Research Paper

Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 55, Issue 6, pp 975-982

First online:

Transition of human diets and agricultural economy in Shenmingpu Site, Henan, from the Warring States to Han Dynasties

  • LiangLiang HouAffiliated withLaboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of SciencesDepartment of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Ning WangAffiliated withLaboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of SciencesDepartment of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , Peng LüAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
  • , YaoWu HuAffiliated withLaboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of SciencesDepartment of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences Email author 
  • , GuoDing SongAffiliated withLaboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of SciencesDepartment of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • , ChangSui WangAffiliated withLaboratory of Human Evolution, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of SciencesDepartment of Scientific History and Archaeometry, Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

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Abstract

Historical records and archaeological remains indicate that the Chinese agricultural economy changed significantly from the Warring States (475–221 BC) to Han Dynasties (206 BC-220 AD), i.e., from rice-millet based agriculture to rice-millet-wheat based agriculture. However, the variation of human diets and the inner relationship between human diets and the agricultural transition during this period remain poorly understood. In this paper, the C and N stable isotopes from human and animal bones at the Shenmingpu site (SMPS), Xichuan County, Henan Province were analyzed. If some outliers (M34, M36, M102) were excluded, the mean δ 13C value ((−16.7±0.8)‰, n=15) of humans in Han Dynasties was dramatically lower than that in the Warring States ((−12.7±0.8)‰, n=14), indicating that the cultivation of rice and wheat, especially wheat, had been more widely popularized in Han Dynasties. Meanwhile, the range of δ 15N values of humans (6.6‰–9.3‰) in Han Dynasties was narrower than that of the Warring States (6.2‰–10.4‰), suggesting that the animal protein resources in human foods during Han Dynasties were more concentrated. The transition of human diets and the close relationship with the change of agricultural economy in SMPS were due to more stable society, the carryout of new agricultural policies, and the emergence of new agricultural tools in Han Dynasties

Keywords

Shenmingpu site the Warring States to Han Dynasties C and N stable isotopes palaeodiet