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The agricultural economy during the Longshan period : an archaeobotanical perspective from Shandong and Shanxi

This project aims to examine the agricultural production, agricultural organization, and changes in agriculture that underpin the emergence of social complexity during the Longshan period (ca. 5000-4000BP), which represents the transition from earlier Neolithic economies to the hierarchical societies of the Bronze Age. Samples from regional survey archaeobotany in the Sushui valley, Shanxi and intensive on-site excavation at the Tonglin site, Shandong are analyzed and results are compared with other published data from northern Chinese sites with systematic flotation. Data from the Sushui valley and Tonglin site together with published data from other sites indicate that the Longshan agriculture in northern China was mainly based on millets with the addition of rice. However, the role of rice varied between different sites, which was probably due to the effect of regional climatic patterns that structured local environments in terms of water availability. Wheat was introduced into China but it seems more common in the peripheral areas than in the core area of Henan. Soybean could also be cultivated and it was more ubiquitous in Shandong and Henan than in Shanxi. The incorporation of wheat and soybean into the cropping system could also indicate possible crop rotations between wheat and rice, millets and soybeans developed from the Longshan period. Crop processing analysis indicates a shift from the Yangshao uniformity to the Longshan diversity in crop processing practices. This could be related to agricultural mobility during harvesting time, which then reflects possible social organization changes. The change in crop processing practices from Yangshao to Longshan could indicate the change of social organization from semi-communal/egalitarian to a more centralized/hierarchical system at some sites, and differentiation between different sites in the settlement system. Weed ecology analysis demonstrates that Longshan agriculture was based on permanent fields and the cultivation of permanent fields had already started in the Yangshao period. In addition, other cultivation practices, such as harvesting height, harvesting time, tillage, and soil fertility, were also inferred. This project also shed some light on the role of agriculture in the emergence of social complexity in other regions of the world such as the Near East.
Date January 2011
CreatorsSong, J.
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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