12,000-year-old rice kernel found

Himalayan News Service

Changsha (China), February 17:

A 12,000-year-old rice kernel discovered in China may well be the earliest cultivated rice specimen in the world.

The rice kernel was one among six kernels as well as some ceramic relics found by archaeologists in a cave at the Yuchanyan cultural relics in Hunan province, Xinhua reports.

The specimen would belong to the transitional period between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic Ages (10,000 years ago), or even earlier, said Yuan Jiarong, director of the provincial archaeological research institute. “As the oldest cultivated rice specimen in the world, the discovery marks the significance of central China in the origin of the world’s rice cultivation culture,” said Yuan. He said the other five grains, which were found nearer to the earth’s surface, were still to be dated. Yuan said locals had shown him the cave in 1998 when he was holding a training course there. The cave, five metres above the ground, covers an area of 100 square metres.