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Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China

Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and... Rice (2011) 4:104–113 DOI 10.1007/s12284-011-9071-1 Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China Jade d’Alpoim Guedes Received: 13 October 2011 /Accepted: 3 November 2011 /Published online: 25 November 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011 Abstract Southwest China played a pivotal role in the important role that this region played in the spread of spread of agriculture across East and Southeast Asia. Both agriculture into Southern China and eventually Southeast rice and millet were important in the spread of populations Asia (Bellwood 2005a; 2006; Higham 2002; Van Driem and the expansion of agriculture into this region. Recent 2005; Zhang and Hung 2010). Recent evidence from sites finds in the mountainous peripheries of Sichuan Province in the highlands and basin of Sichuan provide important show that the earliest inhabitants of this region practiced a data for understanding how and when agriculture spread combination of broomcorn and foxtail millet agriculture (ca into this region (Fig. 1). Thesedatarelatetotwo 4000–2500 BC). These crops are adapted to high altitude agricultural systems of interest for understanding popula- and arid environments, which facilitated their movement tion movement and the spread of languages in the region. across this region and eventually into the Tibetan Plateau. The first is the early spread of millet agriculture to the At around 2700 BC, a combined system of rice and foxtail highlands of the Hengduan mountain range to the west and the millet agriculture appears suddenly in sites of the Baodun south and the Qinling mountain range to the north of the culture on the Chengdu Plain. The use of this double Sichuan Basin and the Tibetan Plateau. Current evidence cropping system provided advantages to the inhabitants of suggests that this spread occurred from Northwest China ca this region in both risk reduction and yield. I argue that this 3500 BC or earlier. The second is the spread of rice and foxtail had important consequences for spurring population millet agriculture to the undulating hills of the Sichuan Basin growth, facilitating expansion into new territories and the itself, specifically to the large level area of the Chengdu Plain development of social complexity. in the Northwest portion of the Basin. Here, a system of rice and foxtail agriculture appears suddenly in sites of the Baodun . . . Keywords Southwest China Rice Millet culture ca 2700 BC. Combined rice and foxtail millet formed a Spread of agriculture perfect packet for agricultural expansion, thanks to their versatility and capacity for intensification and potential to reduce risk. From this area, rice and foxtail millet agriculture Introduction spread rapidly into Yunnan, possibly Guizhou, and ultimately into Southeast Asia. The region of Southwest China covers the municipality of The spread of agriculture to this area appears to be Chongqing and the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and accompanied by an increase in social complexity as well as Guizhou in the People’s Republic of China. Situated at the population density. In particular, the appearance of rice and boundary of the Tibetan high plateau and low-lying plains, foxtail millet agriculture on the Chengdu Plain is accom- both linguists and archaeologists have pointed to the panied by a number of sociopolitical transformations which include a settlement pattern dominated by a limited number J. d’Alpoim Guedes (*) of large, central places. These sites are surrounded by walls Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, that would have required considerable investment in terms 11 Divinity Avenue, of labor. Weed flora indicates that labor investments were Cambridge, MA 02138, USA not limited to wall installations, but may also have involved e-mail: jguedes@fas.harvard.edu Rice (2011) 4:104–113 105 orient the reader. Excluding some suspect pre-Holocene sites, there is some evidence that rice cultivation began by at least 8000–7000 cal. BC in the Lower Yangzi River basin at sites such as Shangshan (ca 8000 cal. BC) (Jiang and Liu 2006;Liu et al. 2007;Yuan 2002). Here, it has been argued that rice grains used to temper pottery show signs of initial or early domestication. Following its cultivation ca 8000–7000 cal. BC, rice is thought to have dispersed to the Central East Yellow River Valley by 7000– 6000 cal. BC. A contrasting model proposes that rice cultivation in the Lower Yangzi basin began somewhat later (6000 cal. BC) based on a reevaluation of the data and an examination of the emergence of non-shattering traits in rice spikelet bases (Fuller et al. 2007; Fuller et al. 2008a, b;Fuller and Qin 2010; Zheng et al. 2007). Another possible center for rice domestication lies in the Middle Yangzi River valley sites of the Pengtoushan culture. Compared to the sites of the Lower Yangzi, very little systematic work has been carried out in this area. Based on an evaluation of published rice measurements from the site of Bashidang (6400–6000 BC), Fuller et al. (2008a) have suggested that these fall into the range of wild/immature rice. It is unclear if this represents a stage of pre-domestication cultivation or if these finds are represen- tative of wild rice gathered by foragers. Based on present data, we cannot eliminate the possibility of a second center of domestication in this region. At any rate, by the time that Fig. 1 Location of main sites mentioned in the text: (1) Baodun; (2) the settlements of Daxi culture were established in this Shizishan/Maiping; (3) Yingpanshan, Boxi, and Jiangduichen; (4) region (ca 4000 BC), it is clear that their inhabitants were Haxiu; (5) Zhongzipu; (6) Zhongba; (7) Changdu Karuo; (8) heavily reliant on rice agriculture (Xiang and Huang 1995; Jigongshan; (9) Haimenkou; (10) Baiyangcun; (11) Dadunzi; (12) Nasu et al. 2007). In addition to rice, foxtail millet has also Haidong; (13) Shifodong; (14) Mopandi; (15)Dadiwan;(16) Qujialing; (17) Shijiahe; (18)Pengtoushan; and (19)Chengtoushan. been unearthed at the Daxi cultural site of Chengtoushan (4400–3300 BC). This shows that a part of the repertory investments in water management and the creation of rice from northern China had already been incorporated into the paddies. These data hold important implications for subsistence regime of the south. For a more extensive understanding how early agriculturalists expanded into this discussion of these sites, I refer readers to the articles by region and adapted their patterns of subsistence to widely Bellwood (this volume) and Fuller (this volume). varied environmental settings. The timing of these finds In comparison to rice, investigations on the origins of also hold broader implications for the spread of population millet agriculture are relatively new. Both Bettinger et al. and languages into Southwest China. While initial reports situated the origins of rice cultivation in China at late Pleistocene cave sites such as Yuchanyan (ca. 16000–12000 BC) and Zengpiyan (ca. 8000–5000 BC) (Yuan 2002; Zhang and Setting the stage: new dates for the origins of rice Yuan 1998), recent re-excavations and continued analysis have and millet agriculture considerably changed our understanding of the role of these sites in the origins of Chinese agriculture. For instance, systematic flotation at the site of Zengpiyan produced no rice despite a large variety of other Our understanding of the origins of rice and millet paleobotanical finds (Zhao 2003a). Recent reinvestigation of the site agriculture has changed considerably over the past 10 years of Yuchanyan provided no support for the notion that rice agriculture and a brief review of these changes is necessary in order to was being practiced alongside the use of early pottery (16300–13430 BC) set the finds from Southwest China in context. Recent (Boaretto et al. 2009). Similarly, recent reevaluations of phytolith evidence from the sites of Diaotonghuan and Xianrendong show that debates on the origins of rice cultivation have led to a these sites are representative of hunting and gathering rather than reevaluation of the timing and locus of its emergence. agricultural tradition (Zhao 2010a). Until more solid evidence for rice Although this material lies largely outside the scope of this exploitation is unearthed from late Pleistocene sites, we have chosen to paper, we will give a brief review of these debates to eliminate these sites from our discussion. 106 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 (2010a, 2007) and Liu et al. (2009) have recently proposed highlands is closely linked to the expansion of the that millet cultivation first arose in the upland foothill desert Yangshao culture out of its homeland in the provinces of margins to the north of the Yellow River sometime before Qinghai, Gansu, and Henan. 6000 BC as a means of dealing with increasing climatic Prior to the arrival of millet agriculture in this region, instability. However, the paucity of archaeobotanical data little is known about its early inhabitants. Evidence from means that it is difficult to determine the exact point in time the site of Ziyang makes it clear that the mountainous at which these transformations occurred. Some of the peripheries of the Sichuan Basin have been occupied since earliest concrete evidence comes from Dadiwan, where it Paleolithic times (Ye 1998). However, there is a long gap of is clear that broomcorn millet was consumed (by both time between these Pleistocene occupations and the later humans and the animals they raised as early as 5900 BC) Majiayao culture agricultural sites discovered in this region. (Barton et al. 2009; Gansu 2006; Liu et al. 2004). A recent The discovery of microliths at many sites in the mountain- paper has tried to push the evidence for millet cultivation ous foothills of Sichuan province suggests this gap in time even earlier. Phytolith and chemical work at the Peiligang may be an artifact of excavation practice and that hunter– culture site of Cishan concluded that between 8300 and gatherers forming part of the North China microlithic 6700 cal. BC, the inhabitants of the site were reliant on interaction sphere could have occupied this region as early broomcorn millet (Lu et al. 2009). However, the lack of as 20000 BC (Bettinger et al. 2010a, b). contextual and cultural historical evidence surrounding Microliths have been unearthed at many sites to the these finds makes it difficult to say whether these are Northwest and Northeast of the Sichuan Basin. However, in representative of a food-producing or foraging context all of these sites, microliths are found in association with (Bettinger et al. 2010b). The finds of broomcorn and cultural material such as pottery, adzes, axes, and chisels, foxtail millet at sites of the Xinglongwa culture (6000– which is characteristic of later agricultural settlements. 5500 BC) also suggest a possible center of domestication They thus appear to be dated too much later than those in Northeastern China (Zhao 2005). known from the microlithic in Gansu and Qinghai Provinces. To the northeast, a number of sites have yielded microliths which show similarities to cultural traditions The spread of agriculture into Southwest China further north in Qinghai or Gansu (Ye 1992; Zhongguo Sichuan 1991). C-14 dates have only been carried out at the The mechanism, timing, and spread of rice and millet site of Zhongzipu, leading the excavators to suggest the agriculture into what today is called Southwest China is still remains date to between 5000 and 3500 BC (Zhongguo poorly understood. Currently, the earliest evidence for the Sichuan 1991). In the northwestern foothills of the Sichuan spread of agriculture into this region comes from Sichuan Basin, microliths have also been found at sites such as Province, where two types of agriculture appear to have Yingpanshan (ca 3300 BC) (Chengdu et al. 2002). Similar been intertwined with the spread of populations and lithic material has also been unearthed in the southern possibly language families. In recent years, the spread of peripheries of the Chengdu Plain at the sites of Shizishan rice agriculture has received considerable attention and has and Maiping (Ma 1992; Zhongguo Sichuan 1991). Very been viewed as playing a central role in the spread of few of these sites have been the object of careful population, social complexity, and language across East excavations or direct dating. It is thus unclear whether the Asia (Bellwood 2005a, b; Cavalli-Sforza 2002; Fuller and microliths, ceramics, and other remains are actually Qin 2009). However, the spread of millet agriculture, both contemporaneous. As later agriculturalists moved into this alone and in combination with rice agriculture, also played area, it is possible that their settlements were placed on top an important role in these phenomena. We will review the of hunter–gatherer encampments. As they built house archaeobotanical evidence for the spread of both these foundations and dug graves, they could have brought crops in this section. earlier material to the surface. Much more careful and finer excavation of these sites is needed in order to resolve these Millet agriculture and early settlements on the mountainous chronological problems. Doing so may prove that the peripheries hunter–gatherer occupation of this region has a much longer history than previously thought. Millet agriculture appears to have been well adapted to the The expansion of late Yangshao culture sites into the highlands of western Sichuan, thanks to its short growing highlands surrounding the Sichuan Basin is better under- season and ability to tolerate cold and arid climates (Chai stood. The Yangshao culture first appears in the Central 1999; Mann 1946). These characteristics allowed it to Plains and is found more widely in the Miaodigou phase spread rapidly to sites situated at a range of different (ca 4000–3500 BC), when it expands to Gansu and Eastern altitudes. The spread of millet agriculture into the Sichuan Henan. The Majiayao phase (ca 3500–2500 BC) is Rice (2011) 4:104–113 107 characterized by westward spread into the provinces of Basin played an important role in the spread of agriculture Qinghai and Gansu (Yan 1989). Extensive work carried out into Southwest China. Both foxtail and broomcorn millet by the Chengdu City Institute of Archaeology over the last have short growing seasons, are arid adapted, and can decade shows that this culture expanded not only west but survive in a wide array of climatic conditions, making them also southward into the Sichuan highlands as early as the well suited to mobility and expansion, especially land- Miaodigou period. However, to date, remains of this phase scapes with highly variable and vertical topography such as have been unearthed at only two sites: that of Boxi and the mountainous foothills of western Sichuan. Shared Jiangduichen (Chen 2007). cultural attributes with sites in northwestern China also With the transition to the Majiayao phase (ca 3500 BC), suggest that millet agriculturalists in the Southwest China sites become widely spread across western Sichuan. In this highlands could have played a role in the spread of region, two radiocarbon dates place this phase at approx- populations, languages, and genes. imately 3300–2600 cal. BC (Aba et al. 2008). Sites of this period show clear cultural affinities with the Majiayao Spread of rice agriculture into the Chengdu Plain: evidence heartland. This is clearest in the painted pottery excavated from the site of Baodun from these sites. Recent analysis of this pottery has shown that it was traded into Western Sichuan from the Majiayao Sites of the Baodun culture constitute a lynchpin for heartland in Gansu and Qinghai (Cui et al. 2011; Hong et understanding how rice agriculture moved into Southwest al. 2011). Archaeobotanical analysis of two sites relating to China as they contain some of the earliest archaeobotanical this phase is currently in progress at the Chinese Academy evidence for this region as a whole. The sites of the Baodun of Social Sciences (Zhao 2008). Remains from the site of culture appear suddenly on the Chengdu Plain at around Haxiu (ca 3300–2700 BC) show that subsistence was based 2700 BC. Even the earliest sites of this culture exhibit signs on both broomcorn (Panicum miliaceum)and foxtail of developed social complexity. The remains of around ten (Setaria italica)millet(Abaet al. 2008, 2007;Zhao walled sites pertaining to the Baodun culture have been 2008). Remains from the site of Yingpanshan (ca 3300– discovered, ranging from 7–245 ha in size (Chengdu 2500 BC) show a similar pattern (Chengdu et al. 2002; Gongzuo 2001; Chengdu and Pixian 1999; Chengdu et al. Zhao 2008). The movement of millet agriculture into this 1998; Chengdu and Pixian 2001; Chengdu et al. 2000;He region is also accompanied by pig husbandry, and the bones 2011; Yan and Jiang 1999; Zhongri 2001). Data from the of domestic pigs have been uncovered at nearly all Chengdu Plain Archaeological Survey project as well as Majiayao sites in Western Sichuan (He et al. 2009). recent excavations carried out by the Chengdu City Institute In addition, it is likely that these millet agriculturalists of Archaeology indicate that smaller scale settlements were were responsible for transmitting their agricultural technology also present alongside these larger walled enclosures into the high-altitude environment of the Tibetan Plateau. (Chengdu Guoji 2010; Chengdu 2002, 2004a, 2005a, Painted pottery, domesticated pigs, foxtail, and broomcorn 2006a, b, c, 2007; Chengdu and Pixian 2005; Chengdu millet all appear at the site of Changdu Karuo (3500– and Xindu 2010). The scale of these enclosures and the 2200 BC) on the Tibetan Plateau around the same date labor required to build them hints at the beginnings of as the expansion of the Majiayao culture into Western social complexity in the region. The type site of Baodun Sichuan. This demonstrates the apparent ease with (2700–2100 BC) is surrounded by an interior and exterior which millet agriculture was able to move and adapt wall and covers a total surface area of 245 ha, but the to different ecological zones (d'Alpoim Guedes et al. in internal organization of these sites is still poorly under- preparation; Xizang and Sichuan 1985). stood. Large numbers of ashpits containing domestic refuse Given the proximity of these sites to the Chengdu Plain, as well as a few wattle and daub houses have been we might expect that the first occupation of this agricultur- unearthed. Installations unearthed at the site of Gucheng ally rich area occurred from the north and was connected to in Pixian county have been interpreted as serving a ritual the Majiayao. In fact, pottery unearthed at the early phases function, suggesting that these walled sites may also have of the site of Guiyuanqiao on the Chengdu Plain indicates functioned as ritual centers (Chengdu and Pixian 2001). that millet agriculturalists may have occasionally descended Similarities in ceramic decoration, shape, and manufacture into lower elevation contexts such as the Chengdu Plain (particularly at the site of Baodun itself) have led some (Wan, personal communication). scholars to suggest that the Baodun culture has its origins in Millet agriculturalists (and possibly earlier hunter– the Majiayao culture sites to the northwest, particularly gatherer populations) on the peripheries of the Sichuan Yingpanshan (He 2011; Huang and Zhao 2004). Others have pointed to possible connections in sites of the Jialing River valley to the northeast of the plain (Jiang 2001). Underlying Archaeobotanical analysis is currently being carried out by d'Alpoim both of these theories is the implication that the inhabitants Guedes and Wan (in preparation) for the site of Guiyuanqiao. 108 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 of the Baodun culture practiced millet rather than rice determine the season of its sowing. Together, rice and agriculture. Others have pointed to the large walls surround- foxtail millet formed a diversified food strategy and a ing the sites of the Baodun culture as evidence of regional risk resistant package which was adjustable to different interaction with areas to the east (Flad and Chen 2006;Fuller ecological settings. and Qin 2009). Walled settlements have been found at sites A high proportion (55%) of the rice spikelets unearthed associated with rice agriculture such as those of the at the sites showed a domesticated morphology, whereas Taijiagang (ca 4400 BC) and Daxi cultures (4300–2500 only 11% of spikelets exhibited a wild morphology. These BC) in the Middle Yangzi River valley (Hunan 2007). They data indicate that rice agriculture was transmitted to the have also been discovered in sites of the Qujialing cultures Chengdu Plain as a fully domesticated package. The (3000–2500 BC) and Shijiahe cultures (ca 2500–2000 BC) presence of weeds associated with wet field agriculture, (Beijing et al. 1992; Zhongguo 1965). This has led several such as sedges (Cyperaceae), further suggests that when scholars to hypothesize that the arrival of the Baodun culture rice agriculture moved, it may have moved along with the on the Chengdu Plain is the result of the expansion of rice technology for water management (d’Alpoim Guedes and agriculturalists into this region from the east (Fuller and Qin Jiang 2011). The results of flotation carried out at Baodun 2009;Zhang 2008; Zhang and Hung 2010). make it clear that its inhabitants were heavily reliant on rice Systematic flotation carried out at the site of Baodun agriculture. It is consequently tempting to construct a provides good data for understanding the early movement scenario whereby rice agriculture moved into the Sichuan of rice agriculture into the region (d’Alpoim Guedes and Basin due to expansion from these cultures to the east. Jiang 2011). The significance of taxa at this site was Despite the lack of archaeobotanical evidence from evaluated using a ubiquity score (Pearsall 2000). Ubiquity regions to the east of the plain, one can hypothetically is calculated on the basis of the total percent of samples in consider two different routes for this spread. The first of which a species is present regardless of whether it occurs as these is a northern route, following the Yangzi River one seed or many. As different plant species vary hugely in through the Three Gorges area. However, the lack of the numbers of seeds they produce, estimating the evidence from Eastern Sichuan makes this claim hard to significance of taxa using counts alone can be misleading. evaluate. Flotation has only been carried out at one site in Charred seeds are most likely to enter archaeological site as a the eastern part of the Sichuan Basin: Zhongba. The result of routine activities. Theoretically, plants which are samples from Zhongba range in date from 2500 to 200 most closely related to human activity are more likely to be BC (Zhao and Flad ND). Despite signs of some cultural brought back onto an archaeological site and hence connections with rice-producing sites of the Middle Yangzi, abandoned or discarded on this site. Using ubiquity is flotation at Zhongba shows a clear reliance on broomcorn thus well suited to make inferences about the overall and foxtail millet and not on rice. Only one fragmentary importance a given taxa played at a site. grain of rice is present in the samples from phase 1 (2500– The predominance of rice (Oryza sativa) at Baodun is 1750 BC) and none were found in the two poorly preserved clear, with a total ubiquity of 100% of all samples collected samples from phase 2. Only in phase 3 (1100–200 BC) during two seasons of excavation. A few examples of does the ubiquity of rice increases slightly. The lack of foxtail millet (S. italica) were also unearthed; however, wetland weeds associated with paddy agriculture further these had a relatively low ubiquity of 33% (d’Alpoim suggests that the few finds of rice may not have been grown Guedes and Jiang 2011). Interestingly, no broomcorn millet locally. Based on data from only one site, it is difficult to (P. miliaceum) was found in the samples even though this say whether or not this pattern of subsistence is reflective of formed an important contribution to the diet in sites of the the entire Eastern Sichuan or a small geographical locale. mountainous peripheries. The lower ubiquity of foxtail Zhao and Flad (ND) have suggested that this may be due to millet may be an artifact of preservation. Experimental local conditions surrounding the site. It is indeed possible studies have shown that because of their higher surface that the more vertical topography of this area may have area, smaller seeds such as millets may not survive the presented a challenge for creating the water management carbonization process as well as larger seeds like rice systems associated with rice paddy agriculture, thus (Castillo this volume; D’Andrea 2008; Markel and Rosch prompting the use of dryland crops. 2007; Wright in preparation). Despite its lower ubiquity, it Another potential route for the spread of rice agriculture is thus likely that foxtail millet still formed an important is a southern route through the foothills of Guizhou component of the diet at Baodun. Foxtail millet could have Province, from which it could have moved northward into been cultivated either alongside rice agriculture during the the Sichuan Basin. To date, very little archaeobotanical summer or could have been planted in the fall as a late work has been carried out in Guizhou Province. The earliest season after the rice harvests were collected or as a fallback evidence comes from the Bronze Age site of Jigongshan, crop in years of poor yield. Further work is needed to where rice appears to have formed an important part of the Rice (2011) 4:104–113 109 assemblage (Guizhou et al. 2006). No radiocarbon dates where systematic flotation has been carried out, such as the have been carried out at this site; however, based on pottery Bronze Age sites of Haimenkou and Shifodong in Yunnan chronology, it is said to be contemporaneous with the late (Xue 2010; Zhao 2010b). In both of these sites, foxtail Shang, placing it at roughly ca 1300–1500 BC. The late occurs alongside rice agriculture. This indicates that foxtail date of these finds has led Zhang and Hung (2010)to millet cultivation (combined with rice agriculture) formed hypothesize that the spread of agriculture into this region part of the package of agricultural expansion into southern occurred in the opposite direction and diffused into China. Guizhou from the Sichuan Basin. However, it is probable Together, rice and foxtail millet formed a versatile and that the lack of earlier evidence in this region mostly risk-resistant package that was able to adapt to the varying reflects the dearth of archaeological investigation in the altitudes, water, and climatic conditions which characterize province as a whole. Further research in these areas is the landscape of Southwestern China. The mountainous needed to determine the route via which rice agriculture foothills of Yunnan Province required extensive terracing moved into the Sichuan Basin. work in order for rice paddy cultivation systems to become successful in this area. In the early stages of agricultural Spread of agriculture beyond the Sichuan Basin expansion into this area, a switch to foxtail millet may have facilitated movement into more challenging vertical top- Only a few archaeobotanical finds have been published ographies. Here, rice agriculture may have been initially from Southwest China as a whole and fewer still have been limited to the narrow valley bottoms. In order to reach the directly dated. To the south of the Chengdu Plain, in levels of productivity achieved in flat lands such as the Yunnan Province, rice has been found in the Neolithic Yangtze delta or the Chengdu Plain, extensive landscaping phases of the Haidong site of the Shizhaishan culture which and the creation of terraces would have been necessary. By dates to approximately 2500 (Xiao 2001; Zhang and Hung substituting foxtail millet in the early times of expansion, a 2010). It is unclear, however, what materials were used for food source was assured in a challenging environment. dating this site and what layers the finds of rice came from. Recent evidence from Central Thailand suggests that millet Rice husks have also been found at the sites of Baiyangcun agriculture may have preceded the spread of rice agriculture (ca 2300–2000 cal. BC) (Yunnan 1981; Zhang and Hung into Southeast Asia (Weber et al. 2010). More systematic 2010). Slightly later, rice has also been discovered at the flotation and sampling of archaeological sites may show site of Yongping Xinguang, which dates to approximately that the same is true for Southwest China. 2050–1750 cal. BC according to dates carried out on sediment (Yunnan et al. 2002). A few remains of Conclusion carbonized rice were uncovered in a ditch at this site. Reliable dates for rice come only from later periods, and rice has been unearthed from the early phases of the The spread of both rice and millet agriculture seems to have Haimenkou site ca 1600 BC (Xue 2010) and from the site been closely associated with the transfer of cultural traits, of Mopandi in Yongren County (ca 1400 BC) (Zhao technology, and possibly population movement. In 2003a, b). Similarly dated finds of rice come from the site particular, the spread of rice agriculture to the Sichuan of Dadunzi in Yuanmou (Yunnan 1977). Much further Basin is accompanied by important social change. The south, rice is present at Shifodong where it was directly first of these changes is signaled by a demographic datedto1400BC(Zhao 2010b). Among these sites, transition. Factors which point to this transition include systematic flotation has only been carried out at the sites an increase in the total number of sites (from a single of Haimekou and Shifodong. find in periods prior to the arrival of rice agriculture to Systematic flotation is needed in the earlier sites in this more than 40 sites in the Baodun period) as well as an region to determine whether millet agriculture accompanied increase in site size. In addition, large walls and the rice on its spread southwards. The spread of millet development of water management technology for the use of agriculture into this region is much less well documented, paddies signal an ability to harness a larger labor force. but it is likely that this is due in large part to sampling The presence of a settlement pattern with a limited strategies. The use of a large mesh size or hand picking number of large central places with possible ritual installa- favors the recovery of rice. Millets are much smaller and tions surrounded by smaller hamlets and homesteads also can rarely be seen by the naked eye during the course of an points to a degree of social complexity and possible excavation. The underrepresentation of millet in the specialization. However, these horizontal transformations archaeological record of Southwest China may be an of the social landscape do not appear to be reflected artifact of sampling strategies. In the rest of Southwest vertically. In other regions of China at the same period of China, foxtail millet has only been reported from sites time, studies of grave goods show the development of a 110 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 clear social hierarchy (Liu 2004). Across the board, burials creation of paddies and water management technology is from the Baodun culture are simple pit burials which relatively simple, rice agriculture could be easily intensi- contain few offerings, hinting at a communal ethos as a fied. By adding foxtail millet, either as a fallback or a late governing principal of society. Interestingly, this pattern season crop, this agricultural system gained in both risk appears to be consistent throughout much of the Bronze reduction and yield, possibly spurring population growth Age. The cultures which followed, Sanxingdui (1700–1150 and the development of social complexity. Because of its BC) and Shi’eriqiao (1150–600 BC), were at the center of binary, interchangeable nature, this agricultural system also social networks that brought gold, ivory, the raw material facilitated expansion into new territories. for bronze, marble, jade, and other precious materials Current models have focused to a large extent on the role together for use in elaborate ritual contexts (Bagley 2001; of rice agriculture in the spread of languages across Eastern Chen 1989; Chengdu 2004b; Flad n.d.; Sichuan 1987; Sun and Southeast Asia; however, they should not ignore the 2000; Thote and Bagley 2003; Wang and Ye 1993). Despite importance that foxtail millet had in the ancient agricultural the heavy investment in ritual paraphernalia at Sanxingdui package. In addition, they should not ignore the importance and at the later Shi’erqiao period site of Jinsha, no marked of populations living in the mountainous corridors of the social hierarchy is present in the graves from either of these Himalayan foothills, where a package formed of two highly cultures (Chengdu 2003, 2004a, c, 2005b;d'Alpoim adaptable millet crops allowed the technology of agriculture Guedes et al. 2006;Sun 2000). As rice and millet to be carried both to the lowlands and eventually into the agriculture moved, their potential to support greater challenging environment of the Tibetan Plateau. population densities and harness more labor created Acknowledgments Generous financial support for this study was important social change. However, while this social change provided by the Henry Luce and ACLS Foundation as well as the is reflected in the means of production in the Sichuan Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr 8183). The author would like to Basin, this region did not follow the trajectory to marked thank her collaborators at the Chengdu City Institute of social hierarchy which accompanied the transition to Archaeology, the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Archaeology, and Sichuan University particularly Jiang Ming, He Kunyu, intensive agriculture in other regions of China. Zhang Jianghua, Zhou Zhiqing, Lu Hongliang, Li Yongxian, Given current evidence, it is difficult to say whether the rice ZhangQian, GaoDalun,and WanJiaowho made this research and foxtail millet agricultural package practiced by the possible. The author also benefitted from help and discussions inhabitants of Baodun arrived in the plain as a result of with Zhao Zhijun and Dorian Fuller. Finally, the author would like to thank Chunbai Zhang, Rowan Flad, and Zinovi Matskevich for population movement or simply the diffusion of ideas and providing comments on multiple drafts of this paper. technology. Although the sudden appearance of this package as well as associated developed social complexity appear to point to input from the east, the lack of archaeological References evidence from surrounding regions such as Guizhou and Eastern Sichuan make it difficult to substantiate this conclu- Aba ZQZW, Sichuan SWKY, Chengdu SWKY, Maerkang XWXB, sion. For now, all we can point to are clear contacts between Aba ZW. Sichuan Maerkang Haxiu Yizhi Diaocha Jianbao (A areas both to the east and northwest of the plain. report on the survey at the site of Haxiu in Ma'erkang). Sichuan Both rice and millet agriculturalists were responsible for Wenwu. 2007;2007(4):8–16. the transmission of important agricultural technology across Aba ZQZW, Sichuan SWKY, Chengdu SWKY, Ma'erkang XWT. 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Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China

Rice , Volume 4 (4) – Nov 25, 2011

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References (87)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC
Subject
Life Sciences; Plant Sciences; Plant Genetics & Genomics; Plant Breeding/Biotechnology; Agriculture; Plant Ecology
ISSN
1939-8425
eISSN
1939-8433
DOI
10.1007/s12284-011-9071-1
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See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Rice (2011) 4:104–113 DOI 10.1007/s12284-011-9071-1 Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China Jade d’Alpoim Guedes Received: 13 October 2011 /Accepted: 3 November 2011 /Published online: 25 November 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011 Abstract Southwest China played a pivotal role in the important role that this region played in the spread of spread of agriculture across East and Southeast Asia. Both agriculture into Southern China and eventually Southeast rice and millet were important in the spread of populations Asia (Bellwood 2005a; 2006; Higham 2002; Van Driem and the expansion of agriculture into this region. Recent 2005; Zhang and Hung 2010). Recent evidence from sites finds in the mountainous peripheries of Sichuan Province in the highlands and basin of Sichuan provide important show that the earliest inhabitants of this region practiced a data for understanding how and when agriculture spread combination of broomcorn and foxtail millet agriculture (ca into this region (Fig. 1). Thesedatarelatetotwo 4000–2500 BC). These crops are adapted to high altitude agricultural systems of interest for understanding popula- and arid environments, which facilitated their movement tion movement and the spread of languages in the region. across this region and eventually into the Tibetan Plateau. The first is the early spread of millet agriculture to the At around 2700 BC, a combined system of rice and foxtail highlands of the Hengduan mountain range to the west and the millet agriculture appears suddenly in sites of the Baodun south and the Qinling mountain range to the north of the culture on the Chengdu Plain. The use of this double Sichuan Basin and the Tibetan Plateau. Current evidence cropping system provided advantages to the inhabitants of suggests that this spread occurred from Northwest China ca this region in both risk reduction and yield. I argue that this 3500 BC or earlier. The second is the spread of rice and foxtail had important consequences for spurring population millet agriculture to the undulating hills of the Sichuan Basin growth, facilitating expansion into new territories and the itself, specifically to the large level area of the Chengdu Plain development of social complexity. in the Northwest portion of the Basin. Here, a system of rice and foxtail agriculture appears suddenly in sites of the Baodun . . . Keywords Southwest China Rice Millet culture ca 2700 BC. Combined rice and foxtail millet formed a Spread of agriculture perfect packet for agricultural expansion, thanks to their versatility and capacity for intensification and potential to reduce risk. From this area, rice and foxtail millet agriculture Introduction spread rapidly into Yunnan, possibly Guizhou, and ultimately into Southeast Asia. The region of Southwest China covers the municipality of The spread of agriculture to this area appears to be Chongqing and the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, and accompanied by an increase in social complexity as well as Guizhou in the People’s Republic of China. Situated at the population density. In particular, the appearance of rice and boundary of the Tibetan high plateau and low-lying plains, foxtail millet agriculture on the Chengdu Plain is accom- both linguists and archaeologists have pointed to the panied by a number of sociopolitical transformations which include a settlement pattern dominated by a limited number J. d’Alpoim Guedes (*) of large, central places. These sites are surrounded by walls Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, that would have required considerable investment in terms 11 Divinity Avenue, of labor. Weed flora indicates that labor investments were Cambridge, MA 02138, USA not limited to wall installations, but may also have involved e-mail: jguedes@fas.harvard.edu Rice (2011) 4:104–113 105 orient the reader. Excluding some suspect pre-Holocene sites, there is some evidence that rice cultivation began by at least 8000–7000 cal. BC in the Lower Yangzi River basin at sites such as Shangshan (ca 8000 cal. BC) (Jiang and Liu 2006;Liu et al. 2007;Yuan 2002). Here, it has been argued that rice grains used to temper pottery show signs of initial or early domestication. Following its cultivation ca 8000–7000 cal. BC, rice is thought to have dispersed to the Central East Yellow River Valley by 7000– 6000 cal. BC. A contrasting model proposes that rice cultivation in the Lower Yangzi basin began somewhat later (6000 cal. BC) based on a reevaluation of the data and an examination of the emergence of non-shattering traits in rice spikelet bases (Fuller et al. 2007; Fuller et al. 2008a, b;Fuller and Qin 2010; Zheng et al. 2007). Another possible center for rice domestication lies in the Middle Yangzi River valley sites of the Pengtoushan culture. Compared to the sites of the Lower Yangzi, very little systematic work has been carried out in this area. Based on an evaluation of published rice measurements from the site of Bashidang (6400–6000 BC), Fuller et al. (2008a) have suggested that these fall into the range of wild/immature rice. It is unclear if this represents a stage of pre-domestication cultivation or if these finds are represen- tative of wild rice gathered by foragers. Based on present data, we cannot eliminate the possibility of a second center of domestication in this region. At any rate, by the time that Fig. 1 Location of main sites mentioned in the text: (1) Baodun; (2) the settlements of Daxi culture were established in this Shizishan/Maiping; (3) Yingpanshan, Boxi, and Jiangduichen; (4) region (ca 4000 BC), it is clear that their inhabitants were Haxiu; (5) Zhongzipu; (6) Zhongba; (7) Changdu Karuo; (8) heavily reliant on rice agriculture (Xiang and Huang 1995; Jigongshan; (9) Haimenkou; (10) Baiyangcun; (11) Dadunzi; (12) Nasu et al. 2007). In addition to rice, foxtail millet has also Haidong; (13) Shifodong; (14) Mopandi; (15)Dadiwan;(16) Qujialing; (17) Shijiahe; (18)Pengtoushan; and (19)Chengtoushan. been unearthed at the Daxi cultural site of Chengtoushan (4400–3300 BC). This shows that a part of the repertory investments in water management and the creation of rice from northern China had already been incorporated into the paddies. These data hold important implications for subsistence regime of the south. For a more extensive understanding how early agriculturalists expanded into this discussion of these sites, I refer readers to the articles by region and adapted their patterns of subsistence to widely Bellwood (this volume) and Fuller (this volume). varied environmental settings. The timing of these finds In comparison to rice, investigations on the origins of also hold broader implications for the spread of population millet agriculture are relatively new. Both Bettinger et al. and languages into Southwest China. While initial reports situated the origins of rice cultivation in China at late Pleistocene cave sites such as Yuchanyan (ca. 16000–12000 BC) and Zengpiyan (ca. 8000–5000 BC) (Yuan 2002; Zhang and Setting the stage: new dates for the origins of rice Yuan 1998), recent re-excavations and continued analysis have and millet agriculture considerably changed our understanding of the role of these sites in the origins of Chinese agriculture. For instance, systematic flotation at the site of Zengpiyan produced no rice despite a large variety of other Our understanding of the origins of rice and millet paleobotanical finds (Zhao 2003a). Recent reinvestigation of the site agriculture has changed considerably over the past 10 years of Yuchanyan provided no support for the notion that rice agriculture and a brief review of these changes is necessary in order to was being practiced alongside the use of early pottery (16300–13430 BC) set the finds from Southwest China in context. Recent (Boaretto et al. 2009). Similarly, recent reevaluations of phytolith evidence from the sites of Diaotonghuan and Xianrendong show that debates on the origins of rice cultivation have led to a these sites are representative of hunting and gathering rather than reevaluation of the timing and locus of its emergence. agricultural tradition (Zhao 2010a). Until more solid evidence for rice Although this material lies largely outside the scope of this exploitation is unearthed from late Pleistocene sites, we have chosen to paper, we will give a brief review of these debates to eliminate these sites from our discussion. 106 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 (2010a, 2007) and Liu et al. (2009) have recently proposed highlands is closely linked to the expansion of the that millet cultivation first arose in the upland foothill desert Yangshao culture out of its homeland in the provinces of margins to the north of the Yellow River sometime before Qinghai, Gansu, and Henan. 6000 BC as a means of dealing with increasing climatic Prior to the arrival of millet agriculture in this region, instability. However, the paucity of archaeobotanical data little is known about its early inhabitants. Evidence from means that it is difficult to determine the exact point in time the site of Ziyang makes it clear that the mountainous at which these transformations occurred. Some of the peripheries of the Sichuan Basin have been occupied since earliest concrete evidence comes from Dadiwan, where it Paleolithic times (Ye 1998). However, there is a long gap of is clear that broomcorn millet was consumed (by both time between these Pleistocene occupations and the later humans and the animals they raised as early as 5900 BC) Majiayao culture agricultural sites discovered in this region. (Barton et al. 2009; Gansu 2006; Liu et al. 2004). A recent The discovery of microliths at many sites in the mountain- paper has tried to push the evidence for millet cultivation ous foothills of Sichuan province suggests this gap in time even earlier. Phytolith and chemical work at the Peiligang may be an artifact of excavation practice and that hunter– culture site of Cishan concluded that between 8300 and gatherers forming part of the North China microlithic 6700 cal. BC, the inhabitants of the site were reliant on interaction sphere could have occupied this region as early broomcorn millet (Lu et al. 2009). However, the lack of as 20000 BC (Bettinger et al. 2010a, b). contextual and cultural historical evidence surrounding Microliths have been unearthed at many sites to the these finds makes it difficult to say whether these are Northwest and Northeast of the Sichuan Basin. However, in representative of a food-producing or foraging context all of these sites, microliths are found in association with (Bettinger et al. 2010b). The finds of broomcorn and cultural material such as pottery, adzes, axes, and chisels, foxtail millet at sites of the Xinglongwa culture (6000– which is characteristic of later agricultural settlements. 5500 BC) also suggest a possible center of domestication They thus appear to be dated too much later than those in Northeastern China (Zhao 2005). known from the microlithic in Gansu and Qinghai Provinces. To the northeast, a number of sites have yielded microliths which show similarities to cultural traditions The spread of agriculture into Southwest China further north in Qinghai or Gansu (Ye 1992; Zhongguo Sichuan 1991). C-14 dates have only been carried out at the The mechanism, timing, and spread of rice and millet site of Zhongzipu, leading the excavators to suggest the agriculture into what today is called Southwest China is still remains date to between 5000 and 3500 BC (Zhongguo poorly understood. Currently, the earliest evidence for the Sichuan 1991). In the northwestern foothills of the Sichuan spread of agriculture into this region comes from Sichuan Basin, microliths have also been found at sites such as Province, where two types of agriculture appear to have Yingpanshan (ca 3300 BC) (Chengdu et al. 2002). Similar been intertwined with the spread of populations and lithic material has also been unearthed in the southern possibly language families. In recent years, the spread of peripheries of the Chengdu Plain at the sites of Shizishan rice agriculture has received considerable attention and has and Maiping (Ma 1992; Zhongguo Sichuan 1991). Very been viewed as playing a central role in the spread of few of these sites have been the object of careful population, social complexity, and language across East excavations or direct dating. It is thus unclear whether the Asia (Bellwood 2005a, b; Cavalli-Sforza 2002; Fuller and microliths, ceramics, and other remains are actually Qin 2009). However, the spread of millet agriculture, both contemporaneous. As later agriculturalists moved into this alone and in combination with rice agriculture, also played area, it is possible that their settlements were placed on top an important role in these phenomena. We will review the of hunter–gatherer encampments. As they built house archaeobotanical evidence for the spread of both these foundations and dug graves, they could have brought crops in this section. earlier material to the surface. Much more careful and finer excavation of these sites is needed in order to resolve these Millet agriculture and early settlements on the mountainous chronological problems. Doing so may prove that the peripheries hunter–gatherer occupation of this region has a much longer history than previously thought. Millet agriculture appears to have been well adapted to the The expansion of late Yangshao culture sites into the highlands of western Sichuan, thanks to its short growing highlands surrounding the Sichuan Basin is better under- season and ability to tolerate cold and arid climates (Chai stood. The Yangshao culture first appears in the Central 1999; Mann 1946). These characteristics allowed it to Plains and is found more widely in the Miaodigou phase spread rapidly to sites situated at a range of different (ca 4000–3500 BC), when it expands to Gansu and Eastern altitudes. The spread of millet agriculture into the Sichuan Henan. The Majiayao phase (ca 3500–2500 BC) is Rice (2011) 4:104–113 107 characterized by westward spread into the provinces of Basin played an important role in the spread of agriculture Qinghai and Gansu (Yan 1989). Extensive work carried out into Southwest China. Both foxtail and broomcorn millet by the Chengdu City Institute of Archaeology over the last have short growing seasons, are arid adapted, and can decade shows that this culture expanded not only west but survive in a wide array of climatic conditions, making them also southward into the Sichuan highlands as early as the well suited to mobility and expansion, especially land- Miaodigou period. However, to date, remains of this phase scapes with highly variable and vertical topography such as have been unearthed at only two sites: that of Boxi and the mountainous foothills of western Sichuan. Shared Jiangduichen (Chen 2007). cultural attributes with sites in northwestern China also With the transition to the Majiayao phase (ca 3500 BC), suggest that millet agriculturalists in the Southwest China sites become widely spread across western Sichuan. In this highlands could have played a role in the spread of region, two radiocarbon dates place this phase at approx- populations, languages, and genes. imately 3300–2600 cal. BC (Aba et al. 2008). Sites of this period show clear cultural affinities with the Majiayao Spread of rice agriculture into the Chengdu Plain: evidence heartland. This is clearest in the painted pottery excavated from the site of Baodun from these sites. Recent analysis of this pottery has shown that it was traded into Western Sichuan from the Majiayao Sites of the Baodun culture constitute a lynchpin for heartland in Gansu and Qinghai (Cui et al. 2011; Hong et understanding how rice agriculture moved into Southwest al. 2011). Archaeobotanical analysis of two sites relating to China as they contain some of the earliest archaeobotanical this phase is currently in progress at the Chinese Academy evidence for this region as a whole. The sites of the Baodun of Social Sciences (Zhao 2008). Remains from the site of culture appear suddenly on the Chengdu Plain at around Haxiu (ca 3300–2700 BC) show that subsistence was based 2700 BC. Even the earliest sites of this culture exhibit signs on both broomcorn (Panicum miliaceum)and foxtail of developed social complexity. The remains of around ten (Setaria italica)millet(Abaet al. 2008, 2007;Zhao walled sites pertaining to the Baodun culture have been 2008). Remains from the site of Yingpanshan (ca 3300– discovered, ranging from 7–245 ha in size (Chengdu 2500 BC) show a similar pattern (Chengdu et al. 2002; Gongzuo 2001; Chengdu and Pixian 1999; Chengdu et al. Zhao 2008). The movement of millet agriculture into this 1998; Chengdu and Pixian 2001; Chengdu et al. 2000;He region is also accompanied by pig husbandry, and the bones 2011; Yan and Jiang 1999; Zhongri 2001). Data from the of domestic pigs have been uncovered at nearly all Chengdu Plain Archaeological Survey project as well as Majiayao sites in Western Sichuan (He et al. 2009). recent excavations carried out by the Chengdu City Institute In addition, it is likely that these millet agriculturalists of Archaeology indicate that smaller scale settlements were were responsible for transmitting their agricultural technology also present alongside these larger walled enclosures into the high-altitude environment of the Tibetan Plateau. (Chengdu Guoji 2010; Chengdu 2002, 2004a, 2005a, Painted pottery, domesticated pigs, foxtail, and broomcorn 2006a, b, c, 2007; Chengdu and Pixian 2005; Chengdu millet all appear at the site of Changdu Karuo (3500– and Xindu 2010). The scale of these enclosures and the 2200 BC) on the Tibetan Plateau around the same date labor required to build them hints at the beginnings of as the expansion of the Majiayao culture into Western social complexity in the region. The type site of Baodun Sichuan. This demonstrates the apparent ease with (2700–2100 BC) is surrounded by an interior and exterior which millet agriculture was able to move and adapt wall and covers a total surface area of 245 ha, but the to different ecological zones (d'Alpoim Guedes et al. in internal organization of these sites is still poorly under- preparation; Xizang and Sichuan 1985). stood. Large numbers of ashpits containing domestic refuse Given the proximity of these sites to the Chengdu Plain, as well as a few wattle and daub houses have been we might expect that the first occupation of this agricultur- unearthed. Installations unearthed at the site of Gucheng ally rich area occurred from the north and was connected to in Pixian county have been interpreted as serving a ritual the Majiayao. In fact, pottery unearthed at the early phases function, suggesting that these walled sites may also have of the site of Guiyuanqiao on the Chengdu Plain indicates functioned as ritual centers (Chengdu and Pixian 2001). that millet agriculturalists may have occasionally descended Similarities in ceramic decoration, shape, and manufacture into lower elevation contexts such as the Chengdu Plain (particularly at the site of Baodun itself) have led some (Wan, personal communication). scholars to suggest that the Baodun culture has its origins in Millet agriculturalists (and possibly earlier hunter– the Majiayao culture sites to the northwest, particularly gatherer populations) on the peripheries of the Sichuan Yingpanshan (He 2011; Huang and Zhao 2004). Others have pointed to possible connections in sites of the Jialing River valley to the northeast of the plain (Jiang 2001). Underlying Archaeobotanical analysis is currently being carried out by d'Alpoim both of these theories is the implication that the inhabitants Guedes and Wan (in preparation) for the site of Guiyuanqiao. 108 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 of the Baodun culture practiced millet rather than rice determine the season of its sowing. Together, rice and agriculture. Others have pointed to the large walls surround- foxtail millet formed a diversified food strategy and a ing the sites of the Baodun culture as evidence of regional risk resistant package which was adjustable to different interaction with areas to the east (Flad and Chen 2006;Fuller ecological settings. and Qin 2009). Walled settlements have been found at sites A high proportion (55%) of the rice spikelets unearthed associated with rice agriculture such as those of the at the sites showed a domesticated morphology, whereas Taijiagang (ca 4400 BC) and Daxi cultures (4300–2500 only 11% of spikelets exhibited a wild morphology. These BC) in the Middle Yangzi River valley (Hunan 2007). They data indicate that rice agriculture was transmitted to the have also been discovered in sites of the Qujialing cultures Chengdu Plain as a fully domesticated package. The (3000–2500 BC) and Shijiahe cultures (ca 2500–2000 BC) presence of weeds associated with wet field agriculture, (Beijing et al. 1992; Zhongguo 1965). This has led several such as sedges (Cyperaceae), further suggests that when scholars to hypothesize that the arrival of the Baodun culture rice agriculture moved, it may have moved along with the on the Chengdu Plain is the result of the expansion of rice technology for water management (d’Alpoim Guedes and agriculturalists into this region from the east (Fuller and Qin Jiang 2011). The results of flotation carried out at Baodun 2009;Zhang 2008; Zhang and Hung 2010). make it clear that its inhabitants were heavily reliant on rice Systematic flotation carried out at the site of Baodun agriculture. It is consequently tempting to construct a provides good data for understanding the early movement scenario whereby rice agriculture moved into the Sichuan of rice agriculture into the region (d’Alpoim Guedes and Basin due to expansion from these cultures to the east. Jiang 2011). The significance of taxa at this site was Despite the lack of archaeobotanical evidence from evaluated using a ubiquity score (Pearsall 2000). Ubiquity regions to the east of the plain, one can hypothetically is calculated on the basis of the total percent of samples in consider two different routes for this spread. The first of which a species is present regardless of whether it occurs as these is a northern route, following the Yangzi River one seed or many. As different plant species vary hugely in through the Three Gorges area. However, the lack of the numbers of seeds they produce, estimating the evidence from Eastern Sichuan makes this claim hard to significance of taxa using counts alone can be misleading. evaluate. Flotation has only been carried out at one site in Charred seeds are most likely to enter archaeological site as a the eastern part of the Sichuan Basin: Zhongba. The result of routine activities. Theoretically, plants which are samples from Zhongba range in date from 2500 to 200 most closely related to human activity are more likely to be BC (Zhao and Flad ND). Despite signs of some cultural brought back onto an archaeological site and hence connections with rice-producing sites of the Middle Yangzi, abandoned or discarded on this site. Using ubiquity is flotation at Zhongba shows a clear reliance on broomcorn thus well suited to make inferences about the overall and foxtail millet and not on rice. Only one fragmentary importance a given taxa played at a site. grain of rice is present in the samples from phase 1 (2500– The predominance of rice (Oryza sativa) at Baodun is 1750 BC) and none were found in the two poorly preserved clear, with a total ubiquity of 100% of all samples collected samples from phase 2. Only in phase 3 (1100–200 BC) during two seasons of excavation. A few examples of does the ubiquity of rice increases slightly. The lack of foxtail millet (S. italica) were also unearthed; however, wetland weeds associated with paddy agriculture further these had a relatively low ubiquity of 33% (d’Alpoim suggests that the few finds of rice may not have been grown Guedes and Jiang 2011). Interestingly, no broomcorn millet locally. Based on data from only one site, it is difficult to (P. miliaceum) was found in the samples even though this say whether or not this pattern of subsistence is reflective of formed an important contribution to the diet in sites of the the entire Eastern Sichuan or a small geographical locale. mountainous peripheries. The lower ubiquity of foxtail Zhao and Flad (ND) have suggested that this may be due to millet may be an artifact of preservation. Experimental local conditions surrounding the site. It is indeed possible studies have shown that because of their higher surface that the more vertical topography of this area may have area, smaller seeds such as millets may not survive the presented a challenge for creating the water management carbonization process as well as larger seeds like rice systems associated with rice paddy agriculture, thus (Castillo this volume; D’Andrea 2008; Markel and Rosch prompting the use of dryland crops. 2007; Wright in preparation). Despite its lower ubiquity, it Another potential route for the spread of rice agriculture is thus likely that foxtail millet still formed an important is a southern route through the foothills of Guizhou component of the diet at Baodun. Foxtail millet could have Province, from which it could have moved northward into been cultivated either alongside rice agriculture during the the Sichuan Basin. To date, very little archaeobotanical summer or could have been planted in the fall as a late work has been carried out in Guizhou Province. The earliest season after the rice harvests were collected or as a fallback evidence comes from the Bronze Age site of Jigongshan, crop in years of poor yield. Further work is needed to where rice appears to have formed an important part of the Rice (2011) 4:104–113 109 assemblage (Guizhou et al. 2006). No radiocarbon dates where systematic flotation has been carried out, such as the have been carried out at this site; however, based on pottery Bronze Age sites of Haimenkou and Shifodong in Yunnan chronology, it is said to be contemporaneous with the late (Xue 2010; Zhao 2010b). In both of these sites, foxtail Shang, placing it at roughly ca 1300–1500 BC. The late occurs alongside rice agriculture. This indicates that foxtail date of these finds has led Zhang and Hung (2010)to millet cultivation (combined with rice agriculture) formed hypothesize that the spread of agriculture into this region part of the package of agricultural expansion into southern occurred in the opposite direction and diffused into China. Guizhou from the Sichuan Basin. However, it is probable Together, rice and foxtail millet formed a versatile and that the lack of earlier evidence in this region mostly risk-resistant package that was able to adapt to the varying reflects the dearth of archaeological investigation in the altitudes, water, and climatic conditions which characterize province as a whole. Further research in these areas is the landscape of Southwestern China. The mountainous needed to determine the route via which rice agriculture foothills of Yunnan Province required extensive terracing moved into the Sichuan Basin. work in order for rice paddy cultivation systems to become successful in this area. In the early stages of agricultural Spread of agriculture beyond the Sichuan Basin expansion into this area, a switch to foxtail millet may have facilitated movement into more challenging vertical top- Only a few archaeobotanical finds have been published ographies. Here, rice agriculture may have been initially from Southwest China as a whole and fewer still have been limited to the narrow valley bottoms. In order to reach the directly dated. To the south of the Chengdu Plain, in levels of productivity achieved in flat lands such as the Yunnan Province, rice has been found in the Neolithic Yangtze delta or the Chengdu Plain, extensive landscaping phases of the Haidong site of the Shizhaishan culture which and the creation of terraces would have been necessary. By dates to approximately 2500 (Xiao 2001; Zhang and Hung substituting foxtail millet in the early times of expansion, a 2010). It is unclear, however, what materials were used for food source was assured in a challenging environment. dating this site and what layers the finds of rice came from. Recent evidence from Central Thailand suggests that millet Rice husks have also been found at the sites of Baiyangcun agriculture may have preceded the spread of rice agriculture (ca 2300–2000 cal. BC) (Yunnan 1981; Zhang and Hung into Southeast Asia (Weber et al. 2010). More systematic 2010). Slightly later, rice has also been discovered at the flotation and sampling of archaeological sites may show site of Yongping Xinguang, which dates to approximately that the same is true for Southwest China. 2050–1750 cal. BC according to dates carried out on sediment (Yunnan et al. 2002). A few remains of Conclusion carbonized rice were uncovered in a ditch at this site. Reliable dates for rice come only from later periods, and rice has been unearthed from the early phases of the The spread of both rice and millet agriculture seems to have Haimenkou site ca 1600 BC (Xue 2010) and from the site been closely associated with the transfer of cultural traits, of Mopandi in Yongren County (ca 1400 BC) (Zhao technology, and possibly population movement. In 2003a, b). Similarly dated finds of rice come from the site particular, the spread of rice agriculture to the Sichuan of Dadunzi in Yuanmou (Yunnan 1977). Much further Basin is accompanied by important social change. The south, rice is present at Shifodong where it was directly first of these changes is signaled by a demographic datedto1400BC(Zhao 2010b). Among these sites, transition. Factors which point to this transition include systematic flotation has only been carried out at the sites an increase in the total number of sites (from a single of Haimekou and Shifodong. find in periods prior to the arrival of rice agriculture to Systematic flotation is needed in the earlier sites in this more than 40 sites in the Baodun period) as well as an region to determine whether millet agriculture accompanied increase in site size. In addition, large walls and the rice on its spread southwards. The spread of millet development of water management technology for the use of agriculture into this region is much less well documented, paddies signal an ability to harness a larger labor force. but it is likely that this is due in large part to sampling The presence of a settlement pattern with a limited strategies. The use of a large mesh size or hand picking number of large central places with possible ritual installa- favors the recovery of rice. Millets are much smaller and tions surrounded by smaller hamlets and homesteads also can rarely be seen by the naked eye during the course of an points to a degree of social complexity and possible excavation. The underrepresentation of millet in the specialization. However, these horizontal transformations archaeological record of Southwest China may be an of the social landscape do not appear to be reflected artifact of sampling strategies. In the rest of Southwest vertically. In other regions of China at the same period of China, foxtail millet has only been reported from sites time, studies of grave goods show the development of a 110 Rice (2011) 4:104–113 clear social hierarchy (Liu 2004). Across the board, burials creation of paddies and water management technology is from the Baodun culture are simple pit burials which relatively simple, rice agriculture could be easily intensi- contain few offerings, hinting at a communal ethos as a fied. By adding foxtail millet, either as a fallback or a late governing principal of society. Interestingly, this pattern season crop, this agricultural system gained in both risk appears to be consistent throughout much of the Bronze reduction and yield, possibly spurring population growth Age. The cultures which followed, Sanxingdui (1700–1150 and the development of social complexity. Because of its BC) and Shi’eriqiao (1150–600 BC), were at the center of binary, interchangeable nature, this agricultural system also social networks that brought gold, ivory, the raw material facilitated expansion into new territories. for bronze, marble, jade, and other precious materials Current models have focused to a large extent on the role together for use in elaborate ritual contexts (Bagley 2001; of rice agriculture in the spread of languages across Eastern Chen 1989; Chengdu 2004b; Flad n.d.; Sichuan 1987; Sun and Southeast Asia; however, they should not ignore the 2000; Thote and Bagley 2003; Wang and Ye 1993). Despite importance that foxtail millet had in the ancient agricultural the heavy investment in ritual paraphernalia at Sanxingdui package. In addition, they should not ignore the importance and at the later Shi’erqiao period site of Jinsha, no marked of populations living in the mountainous corridors of the social hierarchy is present in the graves from either of these Himalayan foothills, where a package formed of two highly cultures (Chengdu 2003, 2004a, c, 2005b;d'Alpoim adaptable millet crops allowed the technology of agriculture Guedes et al. 2006;Sun 2000). As rice and millet to be carried both to the lowlands and eventually into the agriculture moved, their potential to support greater challenging environment of the Tibetan Plateau. population densities and harness more labor created Acknowledgments Generous financial support for this study was important social change. However, while this social change provided by the Henry Luce and ACLS Foundation as well as the is reflected in the means of production in the Sichuan Wenner-Gren Foundation (Gr 8183). The author would like to Basin, this region did not follow the trajectory to marked thank her collaborators at the Chengdu City Institute of social hierarchy which accompanied the transition to Archaeology, the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Archaeology, and Sichuan University particularly Jiang Ming, He Kunyu, intensive agriculture in other regions of China. Zhang Jianghua, Zhou Zhiqing, Lu Hongliang, Li Yongxian, Given current evidence, it is difficult to say whether the rice ZhangQian, GaoDalun,and WanJiaowho made this research and foxtail millet agricultural package practiced by the possible. The author also benefitted from help and discussions inhabitants of Baodun arrived in the plain as a result of with Zhao Zhijun and Dorian Fuller. Finally, the author would like to thank Chunbai Zhang, Rowan Flad, and Zinovi Matskevich for population movement or simply the diffusion of ideas and providing comments on multiple drafts of this paper. technology. Although the sudden appearance of this package as well as associated developed social complexity appear to point to input from the east, the lack of archaeological References evidence from surrounding regions such as Guizhou and Eastern Sichuan make it difficult to substantiate this conclu- Aba ZQZW, Sichuan SWKY, Chengdu SWKY, Maerkang XWXB, sion. For now, all we can point to are clear contacts between Aba ZW. Sichuan Maerkang Haxiu Yizhi Diaocha Jianbao (A areas both to the east and northwest of the plain. report on the survey at the site of Haxiu in Ma'erkang). Sichuan Both rice and millet agriculturalists were responsible for Wenwu. 2007;2007(4):8–16. the transmission of important agricultural technology across Aba ZQZW, Sichuan SWKY, Chengdu SWKY, Ma'erkang XWT. 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