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Chen, Tao; Wang, Bo; Power, Robert C.; Jiang, Hongen (2020): The first archaeobotanical evidence of Medicago sativa L. in China: hay fodder for livestock. In: Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2
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Abstract

Three piles of shoots, leaves, and pods were discovered in the Zagunluk cemetery (about AD 100-400 based on 14C dating), Xinjiang, NW China. Morphological characteristics assigned the specimens to Medicago sativa L. (alfalfa). The preserved condition of alfalfa remains unambiguously indicate that the plant was of great economic importance and used as hay fodder at that time. This study provides the first systematic archeobotanical data about the forage utilization of alfalfa and the earliest relevant physical material so far known in China. Our results also help us to understand the dispersal of alfalfa across the Eurasia via the southern Xinjiang region and the cultural exchange information between China and the West.