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Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 161–168 | Cite as

Pollen and phytolith evidence for rice cultivation during the Neolithic at Longqiuzhuang, eastern Jianghuai, China

Article

Abstract

Phytolith and pollen analyses were carried out at the archaeological site at Longqiuzhuang in Gaoyou, Jiangsu, southern China. The results indicate that the key morphological phytolith types associated with cultivated rice (Oryza) are common in the Neolithic cultural layers at this site. The evidence strongly suggests that cultivated rice (mainlyO. japonica) was grown locally during the Neolithic. The archaeopalynological record provides information about the impact of human activity and, in particular, farming on the natural vegetation. The evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved forest was substantially altered, and herbaceous taxa, including ruderals, expanded. Based on the results from the phytolith and pollen analyses, two distinct phases of human activity have been recognized, namely (1) phase A (7000-6300 B.P., i.e. early Neolithic) a warm and humid period when arable farming, including rice cultivation, was pursued but the variation in the size of the carbonized rice grains was low, and (2) phase B (6300-5500 B.P., late Neolithic age), a period of relatively cold and/or arid climate when cultivated rice was of major importance and was morphologically similar to present-day rice. Environment, and in particular climate change in the late Neolithic, were important factors affecting the development of rice as a cultivated crop. It was mainly during this period that artificial selection favoured the emergence of forms similar to those of today.

Key words

Phytolith analysis Pollen analysis Rice cultivation Neolithic Southern China 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanjing Institute of Geology and PalaeontologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPR China
  2. 2.Institute of Archaeology Nanjing MuseumNanjingPR China

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