Temporal changes of mixed millet and rice agriculture in Neolithic-Bronze Age Central Plain, China: Archaeobotanical evidence from the Zhuzhai site
Wang, C.; Lu, H.Y.; Gu, W.F.; Zuo, X.X.; Zhang, J.P.; Liu, Y.F.; Bao, Y.J.; Hu, Y.Y.
Holocene 28(5): 738-754
Mixed millet and rice agriculture is a unique agricultural style of China, and is distributed in a broad band between the Yangtze and Yellow River basin. However, the development of this style during the Neolithic-Bronze Age has not been comprehensively clarified, owing to limited archaeobotanical data and imprecise chronology for most of the regions. Here, the Central Plain, a location where mixed agriculture may have first appeared, was selected as the area for research. Phytolith and macrofossil analyses from the Zhuzhai site, together with the accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dating of samples, reveal information about the temporal changes of mixed agriculture as well as the domestication and cultivation of crops in this region. The results indicate that mixed millet and rice agriculture formed in the Central Plain about 8000 years ago. Common millet was the principal crop in the Peiligang and Yangshao periods, with the domestication process beginning in the Peiligang period and continuing up to the Shang period, at which time it was replaced by foxtail millet. Foxtail millet may have gone through a significant degree of domestication by ca. 6000 cal. BC, but its domestication process was still unclear. Rice had appeared since the Peiligang period, but its proportions were always low. Rice assigned to the Peiligang and Yangshao Cultures was the domesticated japonica, and its cultivation was always performed in dry field systems through the Neolithic-Bronze time. Within the subsistence economy, mixed agriculture was a minor component during the Peiligang period, but has been dominant since the Yangshao period.