(ORDO NEWS) — A study by a joint archaeological team from the National Museum of China, the Nanjing Museum and the Sihong County Museum found evidence of rice cultivation at a Neolithic site 8,000 years ago.
The researchers conducted microscopic analysis of macro- and micro-plant remains, food remains, and rice fields from the Hanjing Middle Neolithic site in the Huai River region of China.
Charred rice grains and spikelet bases recovered by flotation confirmed the coexistence of domesticated and wild rice, and direct radiocarbon dating of charred rice grains showed a date between 8400-8000 cal. BP.
Archaeological features resembling a paddy field indicate some early form of management of local hydrology in Hanjing, which may have contributed to irrigation and drainage.
The team also studied the microstructure of pots with charred remains of rice plants or imprints on the inner and/or outer surface, as well as in the cross section of the pots. Some translucent remains have been identified as rice husk phytolith.
Lipid analysis of both food crusts and ceramic matrices suggests that pottery vessels were primarily used to treat C3-based plants (possibly rice), aquatic products, and terrestrial non-ruminants.
Combining zooarchaeological data with archaeobotanical data, it becomes clear that hunting, fishing, rice cultivation, and the collection of wild plants were important components of the subsistence economy in Hanjing.
Dr. Zhenwei Qiu of the National Museum of China said: “This subsistence economy points to a common pattern of subsistence strategies among Early and Middle Neolithic sites in the Huai Valley, where hunting and gathering continued to play a very important role in food production,” says Qiu. .
The team believes that the Hanjing site represents one of the earliest evidence of rice cultivation and domestication in the Huai River Valley, supporting the region as another important early rice development center that has been less well understood and may have taken a different path to start and development. rice growing compared to the middle and lower Yangtze river regions.
Measurements of Oryza-type bulliform cells and Oryza-type double-apex feather cells show that these two types of phytoliths have different implications for predicting rice domestication in Hanjing.
This discrepancy in identifying phytoliths and predicting rice domestication may be due to several analytical and methodological factors, including analytical approaches and sampling issues, statistical methods applied during measurements and data analysis,” Qiu added.
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