Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 99–105

New data and new issues for the study of origin of rice agriculture in China

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12520-010-0028-x

Cite this article as:
Zhao, Z. Archaeol Anthropol Sci (2010) 2: 99. doi:10.1007/s12520-010-0028-x


China was one of the major centers for the origin of agriculture in the world. The origins of agriculture in China, especially the origin of rice agriculture, made a significant contribution not only to the occurrence of Chinese civilization but also to the development of world history. Recently, the study on the origin of rice agriculture has attracted the attention of the academic community due to the dramatic development of archaeobotanical research in China. In recent years, the flotation technique has widely implemented in archaeological excavations in China. As the result, a tremendous amount of plant remains have been recovered from archaeological sites, including those much related to the study of early rice agriculture. The new data provide direct archaeological evidence for, and raise some new issues about, the origin of rice agriculture in China. For example, the rice remains from the Shangshan site, dated to ca. 10,000 cal. B.P., suggest the beginning of rice cultivation regardless of whether that rice was domesticated or not. The quantitative analysis of plant remains recovered by floatation from the Jiahu site, dated to ca. 8,000 cal. B.P., revealed that the subsistence of the Jiahu people mainly relied on fishing/hunting/gathering, while the products of rice cultivation and animal husbandry were only a supplement to their diet. The ongoing excavation, with floatation and water-sieving, at the Tianluoshan site, dated to 6,000 to 7,000 cal. B.P., suggests that rice farming, though important, was only part of a broader subsistence pattern of the Hemudu Culture, and rice domestication culminated after 6,500 B.P and the beginning of rice domestication remain unclear.


Rice agricultureChinaArchaeobotanical research

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyChinese Academy of Social SciencesBeijingChina