Letter | Published:

Early domesticated sorghum from Central Sudan

Abstract

LARGE quantities of carbonised Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench grains, spikelets (Fig. 1a) and inflorescence fragments sorted from about 2 foot3 of charred material found in a storage pit at Jebel et Tomat (13° 36′N, 32° 34′E) in Central Sudan (Fig. 2), and small amounts of carbonised sorghum found in eleven levels of the midden excavated there, suggest that sorghum was the staple grain of people who inhabited the site. The date of 245 ± 60 AD (UCLA 1874M) was obtained from a concentration of carbonised plant remains in the floor of the pit, which was dug into the dark clay loam on which the midden rests (Fig. 3) probably at about the same time as the accumulation of the middle or beginning of the upper unit of the midden. The remains of wickerwork matting and many fragments of thick stalks of cereal grass suggest that the pit may have been a silo lined with stalks and mats. If so, it is not dissimilar to the pits made today in the area for storing grain.

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