Advertisement

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

  • Zhijun ZhaoEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Rice agriculture China Archaeobotanical research 

References

  1. An Z (1989) Prehistoric agriculture in China. In: Harris DR, Hillman GC (eds) Foraging and Farming. Unwin Hyman, London, pp 643–649Google Scholar
  2. Bellwood P (2005) First farmers: the origins of agricultural societies. Cornwall, UKGoogle Scholar
  3. Fuller DQ, Harvey EL, Qin L (2007) Presumed domestication? Evidence for wild rice cultivation and domestication in the fifth millennium BC of the lower Yangtze region. Antiquity 81:316–331Google Scholar
  4. Fuller DQ, Qin L, Zheng Y, Zhao Z, Chen X, Hosoya LA, Sun G-P (2009) The domestication process and domestication rate in rice: spikelet bases from the Lower Yangtze. Science 323:1607–1610CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Guangxi Archaeological Team and Ziyuan Adeministration of Culture Relics (2004) Excavation of the Neolithic site of Xiaojin at Ziyuan County, Guangxi. Kaogu (Archaeology) 3:7–30, in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  6. Harris RD (1989) An evolutionary continuum of people-plant interaction. In: Harris D, Hillman H (eds) Foraging and Farming. Unwin Hyman, London, pp 11–26Google Scholar
  7. Henan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology (1999) Wuyang Jiahu. Science Press (in Chinese), BeijingGoogle Scholar
  8. Ho P-T (1977) The Indigenous origin of Chinese agriculture. In: Reed CA (ed) Origins of Agriculture. Mouton, The Hague, pp 413–484Google Scholar
  9. Hunan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, International Research Center of Japanese Culture (2007) Chengtoushan in Lixian. Cultural Relics Publishing House, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  10. Institute of Archaeology CASS et al (2003) Zengpiyan—a prehistoric site in Gulin. Wenwu Press (in Chinese), BeijingGoogle Scholar
  11. Jiang L, Liu L (2006) New evidence for the origins of sedentism and rice domestication in the lower Yangze river, China. Antiquity 80:355–361Google Scholar
  12. Jones MK, Liu X (2009) Origins of agriculture in East Asia. Science 324:730–731CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Liu J (2006) Hemudu Culture. Wenwu Press (in Chinese), BeijingGoogle Scholar
  14. Lu TLD et al (2003) Starch Residue Analysis of the Zengpiyan Tools. In: Institute of Archaeology, CASS (ed) Zengpiyan-A Prehistoric Cave in South China. Cultural Relics Publishing House, Beijing, pp 646–651, in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  15. Luo Y, Zhang J (2008) Restudy of the pigs bones from the Jiahu site in Wuyang County, Henan. Kaogu No.1:90-96 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  16. MacNeish RS, Libby JG (eds) (1995) Origins of rice agriculture: the preliminary report of the Sino-American Jiangxi Project. Publications in Anthropology No. 13. El Paso Centennial Museum, El PasoGoogle Scholar
  17. Mou Y (1980) Study of the Hemudu Culture. In Proceedings of the 1 st Annual Meeting of Society of Chinese Archaeology. Wenwu Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  18. Yan W (1992) Origins of agriculture and animal husbandry in China. In: Aikens CM, Song NR (eds) Pacific Northeast Asia in prehistory: hunter-fisher-gatherers, farmers, and sociopolitical elites. Washington State University Press, Pullman, pp 113–123Google Scholar
  19. Yuan J (2001) Issues on the origins of domesticated animals in Chinese Neolithc time. WenWu No. 5:51-8 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  20. Zhang C, Hung H-c (2008) The neolithic of Southern China—origin, development and dispersal. Asian Perspect 47(2):299–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zhang J, Wang X (1998) Notes on the recent discovery of ancient cultivated rice at Jiahu, Henan Province: a new theory concerning the origin of Oryza japonica in China. Antiquity 72:897–901Google Scholar
  22. Zhao Z (1998) The middle Yangtze region in China is one place where rice was domesticated: phytolith evidence from the Diaotonghuan cave, northern Jiangxi. Antiquity 278:885–897Google Scholar
  23. Zhao Z (2005a) New archaeobotanic data for the study on the origins of agriculture and civilization in China. Management and Review of Social Sciences, No.2:82-91 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  24. Zhao Z (2005b) Archaeobotany and its recent advances in China. Kaogu (Archaeology), No.7:42-9 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  25. Zhao Z (2006) New study on the ancient agriculture in South China. In: Institute of Archaeology, CASS (ed) Prehistoric archaeology of South China and Southeast Asia. Wenwu Press (in Chinese), Beijing, pp 145–156Google Scholar
  26. Zhao Z, Zhang J (2009) The report of flotation work at the Jiahu site. Kaogu (Archaeology), No 8:86-95 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  27. Zhao Z, Pearsall DM, Benfer RAJ, Piperno DR (1998) Distinguishing rice (Oryza sativa Poaceae) from wild Oryza species through phytolith analysis II: finalised method. Econ Bot 52(2):134–145Google Scholar
  28. Zhao Z, Lu LD, Fuxianguo (2005) Phytolith study for the Dingsishan site in Yongning County, Guangxi. Kaogu (Archaeology), No.11:76-84 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  29. Zhejiang Institute of Archaeology (2003) Hemudu. Wenwu Press, Beijing, in ChineseGoogle Scholar
  30. Zhou X (2002) Rice Farming Tribe. Zhejiang Wenyi Press, Hangzhou, in ChineseGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ArchaeologyChinese Academy of Social SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations