The Emergence of Agriculture in Southern China

By Chi, Zhang; Hsiao-chun, Hung | Antiquity, March 2010 | Go to article overview

The Emergence of Agriculture in Southern China


Chi, Zhang, Hsiao-chun, Hung, Antiquity


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Introduction

The Yangtze Valley in central China is widely regarded by archaeologists, palaeobotanists and plant geneticists as the location of the earliest cultivation of Asian rice (Oryza sativa var. japonica) (Crawford &Chen 1998; Higham & Lu 1998; Zhao 1998; Bellwood 2005:111; Jiang & Liu 2006; Londo et al. 2006; Fuller et al. 2007, 2009). A previous article (Zhang & Hung 2008a) outlined Neolithic cultural developments related to the establishment of food production in the Middle and Lower Yangtze Valley from 10 000 to 2000 BC (14C-calibrated chronology). The Pengtoushan-Zaoshi and Shangshan-Kuahuqiao phases (8000-5000 BC), in the Middle and Lower Yangtze Valley respectively, have provided evidence for very early pre-domestication rice production, possible pig domestication (Yuan et al. 2008), and pottery spindle whorls that imply utilisation of plant fibres. Considerable quantities of rice husk and grains have been recovered from these sites. After 5000 BC, farming settlements associated with the pivotal Daxi, Shinianshan, Beiyinyangin-Xuejiagang, Hemudu and Majiabang-Songze site complexes (5000-3500 BC) spread gradually throughout the Middle and Lower Yangtze Valley. Enclosed rice fields have been exposed in some Lower Yangtze Majiabang-Songze sites, such as Caoxieshan (Zou et al. 2000:97-113). Later in time, the two Longshan-phase site complexes represented by Qujialing-Shijiahe and Liangzhu (30002300 BC), in the Middle and Lower Yangtze Valley respectively, saw the establishment of large-scale wet rice cultivation (Fuller et al. 2007).

It has been suggested that the southward dispersal of rice agriculture from the Yangtze Valley was perhaps related to the expansions of Austroasiatic- and Austronesian-speaking populations into Mainland and Island Southeast Asia respectively (e.g. Higham & Lu 1998; Higham 2002; Diamond & Bellwood 2003; Bellwood 2005: 222). If so, then southern China, between the Yangtze Basin and northern Mainland Southeast Asia, must have played a significant role in the spread of rice farming. However, due to the rarity of reported rice remains and reliable 14C dates, the question of agricultural development in southern China proper, south of the Yangtze Basin, remains poorly understood. We have previously suggested (Zhang & Hung 2008a) that the process of agricultural dispersal in China was not a singular event. To illustrate this, we focus here on recent discoveries from the regions of Lingnan-Fujian-Taiwan (Lingnan includes the provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong) and south-west China (Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces).

Coastal south-eastern China and Taiwan

New evidence for ancient rice cultivation has been reported from south-eastern China, with the oldest sites in Fujian, Taiwan and Guangdong (Figure 1). Here, rice remains can be confidently dated to 3000 BC, whereas dates for many other sites are clustered around 2500 BC.

Guangdong (Figure 1, sites 5, 6, 7 and 8)

In the 1970s, a large quantity of rice grains and stalks from the lower and middle layers at Shixia in northern Guangdong (c. 2600-2300 BC) were claimed to be of cultivated rice (Yang 1978; Zhang et al. 2006). More recently, four new discoveries of older rice remains have occurred in Guangdong. These come from the pre-Shixia phase at Shixia itself (Yang 1998; Xiang 2005), from Shaxia in Hong Kong, from Guye in Gaoming on the Lower Xi River, and from Xinghuahe on the Upper Xi River (Table 1).

There are varied opinions on the date of the oldest rice remains at Shixia. The Guangdong Institute of Archaeology (IA, Guangdong 2000) suggests a date contemporary with the Tangjiagang-Daxi phase in the Middle Yangtze, c. 4800 BC, and with the earliest Xiantouling phase, c. 5000-3500/3000 BC, in the Zhu (Pearl) Estuary. But the pre-Shixia phase lacks the painted pottery typical of early Xiantouling, and so may be contemporary with Caotangwan phase I in Guangdong and Shenwan (Sham Wan) layer F on Lamma Island in Hong Kong (Meacham 1978; Zhuhai Museum et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Emergence of Agriculture in Southern China
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.