University of Cambridge

Barley

How Early Man Survived at the ‘Roof of the World’—And Found the Secret to Beer Too

For early man, surviving and conquering niche environments, like that of the Tibetan Plateau of Asia, was a difficult task that required the perfect combination of conditions. Tribes needed to learn how to work together, to traverse harsh terrain, to find/build shelter, and above all they had to learn how to feed themselves year-round. And while the surmounting odds of surviving the domain known as the “Roof of the World” were stacked against them, with extreme altitudes, relentless winds, frigid temperatures and low-oxygen conditions complicating the living conditions they had in their new home, researchers now say that early men were able to conquer this uninhabited ecosystem thanks to a cold-hardy crop used to make beer – barley.
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