The emergence and spread of agriculture in the Neolithic had a revolutionary impact on the development of human society and provided a solid economic basis for the origin and development of human civilization. In southern China, the original crop was rice, but over time the cultivation of millet gradually expanded. Affected by these various environmental and social development factors, there are still many issues regarding the spatio-temporal details of agricultural development in southern Anhui Province, China, with most of the information currently coming from historical records and rather limited archaeological evidence.
The study examined the data of archaeobotanical remains from the Jingshuidun site in the mountainous areas of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in southern Anhui Province. This work was carried out by the research team of Wu Yan, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, entitled “The history of agriculture in the mountainous areas of the lower Yangtze since the late Neolithic” is published online in Earth Science Frontiers in 2022.
The Jingshuidun study site (31°48’3″N, 117°11’50″E), located at the intersection of the lower part of the Yangtze River plain and the southern mountainous area of the province of Anhui, preserves thick archaeological strata and a rare overlapping relationship of several periods of occupation, allowing the study of cultural stages and archaeobotany.
The authors noted that macrobotanical remains and phytoliths of domesticated rice are present in layers at the Jingshuidun site dated to 4874–4820 cal. year BP (middle-late Liangzhu period) and 2667–2568 cal. year BP (from the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty to the beginning of the Spring and Autumn Period). Additionally, macrobotanical remains and phytoliths from the site document the earliest remains of foxtail millet (Setaria italic) in southern Anhui Province, from a layer dating to the late Western Zhou dynasty and early Spring and Autumn period (2667–2568 cal. An BP). These results suggest that the people occupying the Jingshuidun site used unique rice cultivation as early as 4874–4820 cal. year BP, and they began planting millet around at least 2667–2568 cal. year BP, documenting the spread of millet farming in the southern zone at that time.
The study also showed that there were numerous traces of carbonized millet remains in the layers dated to 2667-2568 cal. year BP in the Jingshuidun site, which is the first direct dating of millet remains in southern Anhui. Evidence from macrobotanical remains at the Jingshuidun site shows that dry cultivation techniques from northern China had spread to southern Anhui around 2667–2568 cal. year BP, and that mixed cultivation of rice and millet took place. It can be caused by the migration of ancient peoples and climate change.
Analyzes from their study of macrobotanical remains and phytoliths also formed the basis for reconstructing the subsistence economy of ancient humans at the Jingshuidun site from the late Neolithic to early historical times. They can get a clearer picture of the development of rice and millet agriculture in the southern region of Anhui province, as well as the spread of millet cultivation, by combining their dates with those of archaeobotanical works. previous ones. It provides new evidence for a better understanding of agricultural development and the transmission route of millet in southern Anhui since the late Neolithic.
Quote this article
Wang, J., Chen, X., Zhang, G. et al. The history of agriculture in the mountainous regions of the lower Yangtze River since the late Neolithic. Front. Earth Sci. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11707-021-0956-z
About the researcher
Wu Yan, young teacher. Innovative research achievements have been made focusing on the use of phytolith methods to carry out the origin and spread of agriculture, the use of ancient human plants and food habits and the evolution of herbivores.
About the Frontiers of Earth Science
Frontiers of Earth Science publishes peer-reviewed original, theoretical and experimental frontier research papers, as well as important review articles of more general interest to Earth scientists. The journal features articles dealing with observations, models, processes, and modeling of the inner spheres (including deep crust, mantle, and core) and outer spheres (including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere) of the Earth. Its objective is to promote communication and knowledge sharing between the international earth science communities.
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Earth Science Frontiers
The title of the article
The history of agriculture in the mountainous areas of the lower Yangtze River since the Late Neolithic
Publication date of articles
March 17, 2022
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