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Feeding ancient cities in South Asia: dating the adoption of rice, millet and tropical pulses in the Indus civilisation

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Petrie, C. A. 
Bates, J. 
Higham, T. 
Singh, R. N. 


The first direct absolute dates for the exploitation of several summer crops by Indus populations are presented. These include rice, millets and three tropical pulse species at two settlements in the hinterland of the urban site of Rakhigarhi. The dates confirm the role of native summer domesticates in the rise of Indus cities. They demonstrate that, from their earliest phases, a range of crops and variable strategies, including multi-cropping were used to feed different urban centres. This has important implications for our understanding of the development of the earliest cities in South Asia, particularly the organisation of labour and provisioning throughout the year.


This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Cambridge University Press via


South Asia, Indus civilisation, rice, millet, pulses

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Cambridge University Press
UK India Education and Research Initiative (Standard Award), British Academy (Stein Arnold Fund and International Mobility Scheme), Isaac Newton Trust, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC Radiocarbon Facility (Project IDs: NF/2009/2/7, NF/2013/1/6)), Arts and Humanities Research Council (Studentship), Trinity College (University of Cambridge), Division of Archaeology, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology (University of Cambridge)