The Origins of Rice Agriculture: Recent Progress in East Asia

By Crawford, Gary W.; Shen, Chen | Antiquity, December 1998 | Go to article overview

The Origins of Rice Agriculture: Recent Progress in East Asia


Crawford, Gary W., Shen, Chen, Antiquity


Knowledge of rice domestication and its archaeological context has been increasing explosively of late. Nearly 20 years ago rice from the Hemudu and Luojiajiao sites [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED] indicated that rice domestication likely began before 5000 BC (Crawford 1992; Liu 1992; Yan 1990). By the late 1980s news of rice from the south-central China Pengtousham site a thousand years older than Hemudu begum to circulate (Bellwood et al. 1992; Hunan 1990; Pei 1989). Undocumented news of silvas having a median date of 11,500 BP with domesticated rice has recently made the rounds (Normile 1997). In addition, the first domesticated rice in Southeast Asia, once thought to be to be older than the first rice in China, is not as old as once thought (Glover & Higham 1996: 422; Higham 1995). Finally, wild rice (Oryza rufipogon) was reported to be growing in the Yangzi valley, well outside its purported original range, making domestication there plausible (Yan 1989; 1990; 1997). Significant progress continued to be made in the 1990s and unlike research on other major crops, the literature is generally not accessible to western scholars, with some exceptions (Ahn 1993; Crawford 1992; Glover & Higham 1996; Higham 1995; MacNeish et al. 1997; Underhill 1997).

The 2nd International Academic Conference on Agricultural Archaeology (IACAA) convened in Nanchang, China in October, 1997 to assess the new archaeological, biological and ethnohistoric information pertaining to the evolution, spread, and production of rice in East Asia. Among the nearly 70 papers presented at the Nanchang conference were half a dozen on phytoliths, a similar number on the botany and evolution of rice, while the remainder covered a wide range of archaeological and historic topics related to rice. Additionally, preceding the conference was the publication of an edited volume on the origin and differentiation of Chinese cultivated rice (Wang & Sun 1996). The 36 chapters deal primarily with new archaeological or archaeobotanical data (seven papers); anatomical and morphological studies (five papers); and genetic research (17 papers). Many of the chapters also explore taxonomic issues. In this essay we update the current status of our knowledge of the origins of rice agriculture based on highlights of the conference and in the context of the recently published record. We focus on two themes: the new archaeobotanical evidence for rice agricultural origins in East Asia and identifying and understanding the role of the wild ancestors of domesticated rice.

New archaeological evidence

The number of sites from which rice remains have been reported from all periods in China vary from between 110 and 140, depending on the author (Tang et al. 1993; Wei 1995; You & Zheng 1995). These sites are predominantly younger than 5000 BC. About half are in the middle Yangzi valley while the remainder are distributed from south China to the lower Yangzi, as well as a few from the Huanghe (Yellow River) valley. The middle Yangzi valley comprises the Yangzi River and its main tributaries between the western end of the Three Gorges and the mouth of Lake Poyang (Poyang Hu) [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED].

After 4000 BC the Middle Neolithic Daxi culture dominates the Middle Yangzi (TABLE 1 and [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]). Early Neolithic predecessors of Daxi indicate a complex developmental history (An 1994; He 1989; Lin 1990; Lin & Hu 1993; Meng 1993). To the north of Daxi is the Lijiacun Complex dating from 6000-7000 BC. To the south in Hunan province the earliest Neolithic site is reportedly Yuchanyan (9000-8000 b.c.) (Yah 1997). These Early Neolithic populations appear to have been using rice, but how early its use began, when it became domesticated, and under what circumstances are issues under investigation.

Table 1. Chronology of Early Neolithic in the Middle Yangzi Valley,
based on

calibrated
years BC          Xiajiang Area           Dongting-Hu Area

2000
3000                  Daxi                       Daxi
4000                                   Lower Tangjiagang Complex(? 

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 ...
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 Origins of Rice Agriculture: Recent Progress in East Asia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
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.