SEOUL: South Korean archaeologists said yesterday that they had found the world's oldest known domesticated rice, pushing back by thousands of years the recorded origins of Asia's staple food.
Radioactive dating of the 59 burnt grains of rice found in central South Korea has pushed back the date for the earliest known cultivation of the plant to somewhere between 14,000 and 15,000 years ago, they said.
“This discovery challenges the accepted view about where rice originated and how it evolved,” said Professor Lee Yung-Jo of Chungbuk National University in Cheongju.
Carbonised rice grains, which were found near the Yellow River and Yangtze River in China and were considered to be the world's oldest rice, were dated between 10,500 and 11,000 years ago, he said.
“It suggests that rice may have also evolved in areas which are far north from there,” he said.
The rice grains were found by Lee and his colleague Woo Jong-Yoon of the same university in Sorori in the central province of North Chungcheong, which is located between 36° and 37° of latitude north.
The excavations were made between 1997 and 1998 and again in 2001, Lee said.
The rice was genetically different from modern varieties, which would allow researchers to trace its evolution, he added. – AFP
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