A study combining linguistic, genetic and archaeological evidence has traced the origins of the family of languages including modern Japanese, Korean, Turkish and Mongolian and the people who speak them to millet farmers who inhabited a region in northeastern China about 9,000 years ago.

The findings detailed earlier this month document a shared genetic ancestry for the hundreds of millions of people who speak what the researchers call trans-Eurasian languages across an area stretching more than 8,000 kilometers.

The findings illustrate how humankind's embrace of agriculture following the ice age powered the dispersal of some of the world's major language families. Millet was an important early crop as hunter-gatherers transitioned to an agricultural lifestyle.