Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

pp 2783-2785

Finger Millet: Origins and Development

  • Dorian Q. FullerAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology, University College London Email author 

Basic Species Information

Finger millet is the common English name of the crop Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn., a domesticated cereal of African origin which spreads in prehistory to Asia, also sometimes referred to as korakan or ragi (a widespread local name in India) or dagusa (in Ethiopia). Its English common name comes from the growth form of its seed heads (panicles) which take the form of several fingers (Fig. 1). This cereal is widely cultivated in eastern and central Africa, India, and Sri Lanka and extends eastwards through the Himalayas to southern China, the hills of Southeast Asia and into the hills of Taiwan, and parts of Indonesia and Guam. In Asia it is frequently a cereal in shifting cultivation systems, although it is also produced in permanent field systems on the plains of India. It is also cultivated to a limited extent in modern Yemen and Oman. Although the wild progenitor species (Eleusine africana Kennedy-O’Byrne) is well established, where ...

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