Pottery Impressions Reveal EarlierWestward Dispersal of Foxtail Millet in Inner Asian Mountain Corridor

Eiko Endo, Shinya Shoda, Michael Frachetti, Zhanargul Kaliyeva, Galymzhan Kiyasbek, Aidyn Zhuniskhanov, Xinyi Liu, Paula Dupuy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Inner Asian Mountain Corridor (IAMC) has been identified as a major pathway for the westward dispersal of millet from Northern China, where it was initially cultivated. Crossdisciplinary investigations are necessary to distinguish cultivated millet taxa from their wild relatives and to clarify the social context underlying millet adoption in novel environments. Despite the ambiguity in distinguishing Setaria italica from Panicum miliaceum or other Setaria species using conventional analysis of charred macro remains, recent attention has focused on the time gap between the introduction of S. italica to IAMC following P. miliaceum. Here, we employed a pottery impression casting method on materials from four Bronze Age sites in eastern/southeastern Kazakhstan to investigate the surface textures of grain impressions on the surface of pottery containers. We successfully identified both millets (Setaeria and Panicum) from three of the sites, Begash, Tasbas, and Dali in the IAMC. Based on our findings, two species of millet were introduced to the region within a much shorter range of time than previously estimated. In addition, the current evidence supports the premise that these cereals were likely utilized for human consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number1706
Publication statusPublished - Jun 26 2023


  • Setaria italica
  • Panicum miliaceum
  • Central Asia
  • Bronze Age
  • Pottery impression casting method
  • Kazakhstan


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