Chinese Science Bulletin

, 56:762 | Cite as

Early agricultural development and environmental effects in the Neolithic Longdong basin (eastern Gansu)

  • XinYing Zhou
  • XiaoQiang Li
  • KeLiang Zhao
  • John Dodson
  • Nan Sun
  • Qing Yang
Open Access
Article Geology


Neolithic agricultural development and environmental effects in the Longdong area were reconstructed using a synthetic approach, investigating pollen, charcoal, and seed remains for two cultural layer sections and five flotation sites. Results show that Neolithic agriculture in the Longdong area had a simple organization and was dominated by the production of common millet, especially in the early and middle Yangshao age. After the late Yangshao age, Neolithic agriculture developed into a more complex structure, dominated by both common and foxtail millet and the cultivation of rice and soybeans. The production of foxtail millet gradually increased through the Neolithic period, reaching its highest point during the Qijia culture. Soybeans were first cultivated during the late Yangshao culture, approximately 5000 cal a BP. Rice production began no later than 4800 cal a BP, and continued to exist in the Qijia culture, approximately 4000 cal a BP. Agricultural production in Neolithic Longdong, specifically in the “Yuan” area of the loess plateau, developed as a shrub and grass dominated landscape. Vegetation in the river valleys was partly covered with Picea, Tusga, and Quercus coniferous and broadleaf mixed forests. Agricultural activity during the Neolithic period caused an increase in farmland on the loess tableland and a decrease in the abundance of shrub and grassland in the Longdong area. When farmlands were abandoned, vegetation recovered with Hippophae-, Rosaceae-, Ephedra-, and Leguminosae-dominated shrublands and Artemisia-dominated grasslands.


eastern Gansu Neolithic early agriculture environmental effect pollen seed 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • XinYing Zhou
    • 1
  • XiaoQiang Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • KeLiang Zhao
    • 1
    • 3
  • John Dodson
    • 4
  • Nan Sun
    • 1
    • 3
  • Qing Yang
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.Laboratory of Human Evolution and Archeological Science, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and PaleoanthropologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Institute for Environmental Researchthe Australian Nuclear Science and Technology OrganizationSydneyAustralia

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