The Tibetan Plateau
, at an altitude of some 3000 meters above sea level, is often called the ‘roof of the world
.’ Some prehistoric
people tried living there starting about 20,000 years ago. Remains of cooked animals and small-scale hearths
show that a few hardy
souls did give the harsh region a go, at least temporarily. But they did not stick around.海拔3000米高的青藏高原常常被叫做“世界屋脊”。在大约2000年前史前人类就试着在这里生活。煮熟的动物和小型灶台残骸表明，一些勇敢的人曾经到过这个恶劣的地区，或者至少暂时在那里呆过。但是没有一直在那呆着。
Permanent human settlements in the area began about 5,200 years ago. So scientists wanted to know. What changed?
Researchers collected artifacts, animal bones and plant remains from 53 sites. The oldest camps only reached altitudes of about 2,500 meters. And at these sites, millet makes up 98 percent of dietary grain.
But about 3,600 years a new kind of barley arrived in the region, after being domesticated in the Fertile Crescent that spread from the Persian Gulf to the Nile. The new barley tolerated frost and had a longer growing season. Which means it grew above the 3000 meter mark—and that people could settle there. Diets at those heights became dominated by the new, hardy barley.
The researchers say that the cross-cultural grain exchange from the Fertile Crescent thus appears to be what allowed humans to finally reach the roof of the world.
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