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Archaeobotanical Studies of Eleusine coracana ssp. coracana (Finger Millet)

K. W. Hilu, J. M. J. de Wet and J. R. Harlan
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 66, No. 3 (Mar., 1979), pp. 330-333
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2442610
Page Count: 4
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Archaeobotanical Studies of Eleusine coracana ssp. coracana (Finger Millet)
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Abstract

Two controversial archaeological specimens of finger millet, Eleusine coracana ssp. coracana (L.) Gaertn., were examined by light and scanning electron microscopy. Identification of the material was based on morphological and anatomical comparison with laboratory carbonized grains of modern Eleusine. Seed morphology of the Indian archaeological collection did not conform with those of domesticated or wild species of Eleusine. The other archaeological collection examined is from Ethiopia. It is estimated to date back to the third millennium B.C. These well preserved inflorescence fragments were positively identified as finger millet. If the suggested date is correct, they represent the oldest archaeological record for the crop, as well as the oldest agricultural record for Africa south of the Sahara. These findings support biosystematic evidence for an East African origin of finger millet which leaves India as a secondary center of diversity.

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