Monday, October 17, 2016

How, When And Where Did Agriculture Arise In China?

[M]illet cultivation was an auxiliary subsistence strategy in Northern China from 10,000 to 7000 BP; while hunting-gathering was the primary subsistence strategy, the earliest millet-cultivation might have emerged in eastern Inner Mongolia post 7700 BP. 
Millet cultivation transited from a secondary strategy to become dominant in the Guanzhong area of north-central China during 7000-6000 BP, and probably facilitated the development of early Yangshao culture in the middle reaches of the Yellow River valley. 
Intensive millet-based agriculture emerged and widely expanded across the Yellow River valley in northern China during 6000 to 4000 BP. This promoted rapid population growth and cultural evolution in the late Neolithic period, and was key in the subsequent emergence of the ancient Chinese civilization.
From here according to studies of archaebotanical evidence.

Note that the dates are BP and not BCE. This represents a much sustained period of proto-farming than is commonly assumed. It would be interesting to know if climate or evolution of millet or something else were more decisive in the transition from proto-farming to farming.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Progress has also been made on the origins of rice farming.

Yunfei Zheng, Gary W. Crawford, Leping Jiang & Xugao Chen "Rice Domestication Revealed by Reduced Shattering of Archaeological rice from the Lower Yangtze valley" Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 28136 (21 June 2016).

Plant remains dating to between 9000 and 8400 BP from a probable ditch structure at the Huxi site include the oldest rice (Oryza sativa) spikelet bases and associated plant remains recovered in China. The remains document an early stage of rice domestication and the ecological setting in which early cultivation was taking place. The rice spikelet bases from Huxi include wild (shattering), intermediate, and domesticated (non-shattering) forms. The relative frequency of intermediate and non-shattering spikelet bases indicates that selection for, at the very least, non-shattering rice was underway at Huxi. The rice also has characteristics of japonica rice (Oryza sativa subsp. japonica), helping to clarify the emergence of a significant lineage of the crop. Seeds, phytoliths and their context provide evidence of increasing anthropogenesis and cultivation during the occupation. Rice spikelet bases from Kuahuqiao (8000–7700 BP), Tianluoshan (7000–6500 BP), Majiabang (6300–6000 BP), and Liangzhu (5300–4300 BP) sites indicate that rice underwent continuing selection for reduced shattering and japonica rice characteristics, confirming a prolonged domestication process for rice.