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The development of Yangshao agriculture and its interaction with social dynamics in the middle Yellow River region, China

Wang, Can, Lu, Houyuan, Gu, Wanfa, Wu, Naiqin, Zhang, Jianping, Zuo, Xinxin, Li, Fengjiang, Wang, Daojing, Dong, Yajie, Wang, Songzhi, Liu, Yanfeng, Bao, Yingjian, Hu, Yayi
TheHolocene 2019 v.29 no.1 pp. 173-180
Panicum miliaceum subsp. miliaceum, Setaria italica, archaeobotany, arid lands, artificial selection, crop production, environmental factors, lowlands, phytoliths, radiocarbon dating, rice, wetlands, China, Yellow River
This study presents new archaeobotanical evidence for agricultural production in the middle Yellow River region during the Yangshao culture period. Phytolith analyses, together with radiocarbon dating of samples from 10 sites in Zhengzhou, showed that common millet and foxtail millet were cultivated with rice in the region around 4000–3000 cal BC. The ratio of crop remains revealed that common millet was dominant in the crop structure. Rice cultivation was no longer confined to large sites situated in the lowlands and began to spread into the hilly lands and small sites. Furthermore, both dryland and wetland systems may have been used for rice cultivation. This pattern of crop production may have been mainly influenced by social background and artificial selection, which overcame the limitation of environmental factors. Such development of Yangshao agriculture facilitated the establishment of an agricultural society during the fourth millennium BC. It also has implications for understanding the reason why the middle Yellow River region (Central Plain) became known as ‘the cradle of Chinese civilization’.