A LONG PROCESS TOWARDS AGRICULTURE IN THE MIDDLE YELLOW RIVER VALLEY, CHINA: EVIDENCE FROM MACRO- AND MICRO-BOTANICAL REMAINS

Li Liu

Abstract


Macro- and micro-botanical remains dating from the Upper Paleolithic through early Neolithic periods in North China have provided significant information for reconstructing the changing subsistence patterns as human groups evolved from mobile hunting-gathering societies to sedentary farming communities. Starch analysis on grinding stones, in particular, has revealed much new data that supplement the inventory of carbonized remains recovered by flotation methods. This paper reviews some recent research projects which have documented a long tradition of processing various plants with grinding stones in the Middle Yellow River valley, including tubers, beans, nuts, and cereals. Exploitation of wild millet can be traced back to 23,000-19,500 cal. BP, more than 10,000 years before its domestication. Several species of tuber, acorn, and wild grasses made up significant proportions of staple food during the early Neolithic, when millet domestication was already underway. These new data help us to better understand the extended transitional process to agriculture in the Middle Yellow River region. Archaeobotany is in an early stage of development in China; it is important to employ an interdisciplinary approach for a more complete documentation of plant use in the past and a better understanding of subsistence practices then.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7152/jipa.v35i0.14727

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