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Archaeologists excavating in Lahuradeva in Uttar Pradesh have found remains of carbonised material containing grains of cultivated rice along with wild grass dating back about 10,000 years. If this is true, then Middle Ganga Valley could be the home of the first farmers in the world.

Previously it was believed that agriculture began in West Asia in a region known as the Fertile Crescent with the domestication of barley and wheat. Later a new Fertile Crescent was discovered in China where rice cultivation began much before agriculture in West Asia. In the Indian subcontinent wheat and barley cultivation began in Kachi Plain in Baluchistan(Pakistan) in the seventh millennium B.C.

The findings at Lahuradeva were discussed at an International archaeology conference in Lucknow last month.

But none of these theories is fully confirmed or accepted by everyone in the field, and P.C. Panth, former professor of archaeology with Benares Hindu University, pointed to just this as he made a bold claim. “It is possible that middle Ganga valley was the home of the first farmer,” he told The Telegraph.

State archaeology director Rakesh Tiwari echoed him: “The studies at Lahuradewa and Sanai tal (a nearby lake) indicate this settlement could be (the site of) the earliest genesis of agriculture developments than ever found before elsewhere in the world.”

The international experts — who included Professor Peter Bellwood of the Australian National University and Dorian Q. Fuller of the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London — were non-committal. But they agreed that agriculture may have begun at more than one site about roughly the same time. [Enter UP kisan in farm origin debate]

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