Primitive agriculture among the ancient inhabitants of China arose no later than 8300 years ago

(ORDO NEWS) — Bioarchaeologists analyzed the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen and found out the diet of representatives of the Neolithic cultures of Houli and Beixin.

It turned out that ancient hunter-gatherers from China already 8,300 years ago ate a number of plants with C4 photosynthesis. This, according to scientists, indicates the existence of their primitive agriculture based on the cultivation of millet.

At least 6,000 years ago, this type of economy was already dominant. This is reported in an article published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Recent studies show that millet (Panicum miliaceum) and mogar (Setaria italica) were domesticated about ten thousand years ago. Archaeologists found the oldest evidence of this during excavations of monuments located on the Great Plain of China.

Thus, ancient grains of millet starch were found in the cultural layer, on fragments of pottery and stone tools excavated at the sites of Nanzhuangtou and Donghulin. Apparently, the process of transition from the collection of wild cereals to an economy based on the cultivation of these plants took several millennia.

In the early Neolithic era, around 6500-5500 BC, the Houli culture existed in the Chinese province of Shandong, named after the base monument of the same name.

Although the economy of these people continued to be based on hunting, gathering and fishing, they already knew how to make ceramics, kept dogs and pigs, and also probably grew crops in small quantities.

It was replaced by the Beixin culture, which existed until about the beginning of the 4th millennium BC. A study of its monuments showed that during this period people increasingly relied on a manufacturing economy.

A group of scientists from China, led by Yi Guo (Yi Guo) from Zhejiang University, decided to find out the diet of people who lived in the lower reaches of the Yellow River in the Neolithic era – from the days of the Houli culture to the Beixin culture (about 8000-6000 years ago).

To do this, they analyzed stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in the bone collagen of humans and animals, and also obtained radiocarbon dating for these remains. Materials for this study were found during the excavation of the Houli site located in Shandong province.

Radiocarbon dating showed that the Houli man lived about 8323-8178 years ago, and the two Beixin people lived about 5987-5726 years ago. The study of stable isotopes pointed to some differences in the diet of people who lived in these two periods.

Thus, representatives of the Hawley culture ate mainly plant foods, both plants with C3 photosynthesis and C4 photosynthesis. There was little animal protein in their diet.

Bioarchaeologists noted that, probably, these people had already begun to grow primitive millet, as well as breeding some animals (for example, pigs), but their economy continued to be based on hunting and gathering.

Examination of the remains of people of the Beixin culture showed that they also ate mainly plant foods, and their diet remained stable for a long period of life.

Scientists believe that during this period the basis of the diet of people was already millet, suggesting that 6000 years ago, the economy in the region was based on the cultivation of this cereal.

In addition, paleozoological evidence suggests that these people regularly kept not only dogs, but also pigs in their settlements.

Earlier on N + 1 they talked about other studies of the nutrition of ancient people. So, bioarchaeologists figured out the diet of the first Greek farmers, and also found out that the Neolithic inhabitants of the Baikal region ate fish and seals.


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