Symposium Workshop: The Origin of Eurasian Food-ways and Cuisines: Environmental challenge and culinary solutions to Food Globalization in Prehistory

November 7, 2020
7:00 am - 11:30 am

7 NOVEMBER | 7:00 AM – 11:30 AM CST

The Origin of Eurasian Food-way and Cuisines: Environmental challenge and culinary solutions to Food Globalization in Prehistory

Convener: Xinyi Liu, Washington University in St.Louis
Co-convener: Petra Vaiglova, Washington University in St. Louis

This event will be conducted virtually via Zoom by invitation only.

Abstract: Between 5000 and 1500 cal. BC, the Eurasian and African landmass underwent a continental-scale process of food ‘globalization’ of staple crops. During this process, the so-called ‘Fertile Crescent Founder Crops’, notably wheat and barley, moved from their origin of domestication in western Asia to ancient Europe, India, and China, while broomcorn and foxtail millet moved in the opposite direction: from East Asia to West Asia, the Caucasus and Europe. Rice traveled across East, South, and Southeast Asia; African millets and sorghum moved across sub-Saharan Africa and subsequently the Indian Ocean. By 1,500 cal. BC, the process brought together previously isolated agricultural zones to form a new kind of farming system that enabled multi-cropping. This fundamentally transformed Eurasian diets and cuisines. Understanding the prehistoric roots of Eurasian foodways and cuisines provides perspectives that can not only transform our knowledge of the human past but also raise awareness of present-day and future challenges of food security. In this workshop, we consider the environmental and social drivers of the trans-Eurasian exchange of cereal crops with a geographic focus on both sides of Asia: Anatolia and the Yellow River region. We emphasize the role played by the primary agent of agricultural production – the ordinary farmers in the past.


  • Michael Spate, the University of Sydney, Australia
  • Shinya Shoda, Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Japan
  • Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute, Vilnius University, Lithuania 
  • Dragana Filipovic, Kiel University, Germany
  • Martin Jones, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Harriet Hunt, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Amy Bogaard, University of Oxford, UK
  • Rachel Reid, Virginia Tech, the US
  • Michael Franchetti, Washington University
  • Petra Vaiglova, Washington University
  • Xinyi Liu, Washington University