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Did foragers adopt farming? A perspective from the margins of the Tibetan Plateau
- d'Alpoim Guedes, Jade
- Quaternary international 2018 v.489 pp. 91-100
- altitude, farmers, millets, models, niches, China
- Farmer's ability to rapidly grow their populations has been seen as an advantage in allowing them to either engulf or simply do away with foragers. Research on agriculture's spread in East Asia has followed an underlying assumption: that farming produced equally reliable returns across the vast expanse of territories into which it spread. Farmers are thus always seen as being at a demographic advantage. However, in some parts of Asia, ecological barriers to growing crops may have meant that the opposite was true. In order to illuminate how foragers and farmers might have interacted in environments marginal to crop cultivation, I argue that we first need to outline where the barriers to farmer expansion in prehistory lay. Using ecological niche modeling combined with an analysis of recent archaeological data, this paper contrasts forager farmer interaction in two different areas of the Tibetan Plateau. It argues that the higher elevation reaches of the “third pole” constituted a barrier for early millet farmers expanding into the region. In these areas foragers may have maintained a competitive advantage.