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Rice Was First Domesticated in Rondônia State 4,000 Years Ago

10/19/2017 - 10h35

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REINALDO JOSÉ LOPES
FROM SÃO PAULO

Rice as a cultivated crop thousands of years ago wasn't something exclusive to China as it may have seemed. Around the year 2,000 BC, the inhabitants of a marshy region in what today is Rondônia were already cultivating different varieties of the grain, that were part of an agriculture mix which also included corn and squash.

This scenario, revealed thanks to the analysis of microscopic trace elements of plants, gives new weight to the idea that the southwestern Amazon was among the primary agricultural cradles of the planet.

After all, Rondônia and neighboring regions are also considered the center of origin for other crops like manioc (cassava) and peanuts.

Locally known as duck-rice or swamp-rice, these varieties of the cereal were consumed by indigenous peoples, according to reports from colonial times, and are still consumed today by traditional populations in the Amazon and the Pantanal, but no one imagined that in the distant past, they could have been actively cultivated by the region's inhabitants.

The clues pointing in this direction come from phytoliths, tiny silicon structures (like grains of sand) that plants produce.

Every kind of plant - and every part of the vegetable organism, like leaves, seeds, etc. -produces specific forms of phytoliths. They are much more durable than the rest of the plant, which aids archaeologists who work in regions where the organic material decomposes quickly, like the in the Amazon.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

Read the article in the original language

Pedro Tenorio Lezama
Around the year 2,000 BC, the inhabitants of a region in what today is Rondônia were already cultivating different varieties of rice
Around the year 2,000 BC, the inhabitants of a region in what today is Rondônia were already cultivating different varieties of rice

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