New radiocarbon and archaeobotanical evidence reveal the timing and route of southward dispersal of rice farming in south China
Yang, X.Y.; Chen, Q.H.; Ma, Y.C.; Li, Z.; Hung, H.C.; Zhang, Q.L.; Jin, Z.W.; Liu, S.Q.; Zhou, Z.Y.; Fu, X.G.
Science Bulletin 63(22): 1495-1501
The origins and spreads of rice agriculture have been enduring topics, yet the timing and southward dispersal from the Yangtze River Basin have been difficult to trace, due to the scarcity of archaeobotanical data, especially systematic macro-plant remains examination, combined with the poor preservation in the humid climate and acidic soils of China's southern provinces. Here, we report new radiocarbon dating and preserved rice phytolith evidence, derived from three Late Neolithic archaeological sites in south China, dated about 5,000-4,100 cal a BP. Our results demonstrate that rice farming had spread southward through the mountainous regions of Wuyi and Nanling, then entered the areas of Western Fujian and North Guangdong by 5,000 cal a BP, followed by continued expansion into coastal areas of East China Sea and South China Sea, also crossing the Taiwan Strait, around 4,500-4,000 cal a BP. The North River, East River, Min River, and possibly other river systems likely were influential as pathways or conduits.