Crops and Culture: Dispersal of African Millets to the Indian Subcontinent and its Cultural Consequences

  • Randi Haaland Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and African Archaeology at the department of Archaeology, History, Culture and Religion University of Bergen
Keywords: African millets, dispersal Indian subcontinent, cuisine

Abstract

In this paper I will discuss the spread of African crops to the Indian subcontinent. The spread was probably related to the Indus civilizations trading network in the Indian Ocean during the late 3rd millennium BC. It was at this time African food plants, the so-called big millets were dispersed across the African savannah to the horn of Africa and further to the Indian sub-continent. The big millets were cultivated as monsoon summer crops complementing the existing barley/wheat winter crops. The African pot/porridge cuisine was added to wheat/barley oven/bread cuisine. Recent study in Nepal shows that the African crops are cultivated today on marginal agricultural land in the foothills of Himalaya. We will look at Nepal as an example of the production and consumption of African big millets. The crops are processed into porridge and beer, and this cuisine is a food tradition similar to the pot and porridge cuisine we find in sub-Saharan Africa.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v5i0.6354

Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 5, 2011: 1-30


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Author Biography

Randi Haaland, Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and African Archaeology at the department of Archaeology, History, Culture and Religion University of Bergen
Haaland, Randi is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and African Archaeology at the department of Archaeology, History, Culture and Religion University of Bergen, She has been coordinator for projects on research and competence building in Sudan, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Palestine. She has in addition been doing archaeological fieldwork in Ethiopia, Mali and Nepal. She has designed a master course for foreign students of which 28 students from Africa, Near East and Nepal have completed their degree. Her main research interest is transition to food production in the Sudanese Nile valley and the technology and symbolism of iron working. She is currently writing up her work financed by the Norwegian Research Council on the symbolic aspects of foodways seen in a global context. Besides her permanent positions at Bergen University she has short-term teaching assignments at University of Khartoum, Sudan and Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. Her most well known publications are: she edited the book “African Iron working; Ancient and traditional” (1986). She wrote the book, Socio-Economic Differentiation in the Neolithic Sudan (1987), Emergence of Sedentism; New Ways of Living, New Ways of Symbolising in Antiquity (1997), "Porridge and Pot, Bread and Oven: Food Ways and Symbolism in Africa and the Near East from the Neolithic to the Present.” in Cambridge Archaeological Journal (2007). She wrote with her husband Gunnar Haaland an article on Landscape “in Oxford Handbook of Archaeology and Religion (2011). She was awarded King Herald’s Medal of Merit in Gold in 2008.
Published
2012-06-20
How to Cite
Haaland, R. (2012). Crops and Culture: Dispersal of African Millets to the Indian Subcontinent and its Cultural Consequences. Dhaulagiri Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, 5, 1-30. https://doi.org/10.3126/dsaj.v5i0.6354
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