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The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to the Equator

The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to... Rice (2011) 4:93–103 DOI 10.1007/s12284-011-9068-9 The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to the Equator Peter Bellwood Received: 11 October 2011 /Accepted: 30 October 2011 /Published online: 9 December 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011 Abstract This paper discusses the origins of Oryza sativa Current genetic evidence suggests only one domestication japonica rice cultivation in the Yangzi region of China and of Oryza rufipogon, the ancestral perennial species for asks how and with which migrating human populations it japonica, in or close to the Yangzi Basin (Molina et al. spread south to reach Taiwan by 3,000 BC and Southeast 2011; Zhao 2010; in this paper, I do not discuss the separate Asia by 2,000 BC. The perspective adopted is that the domestication of O. sativa subspecies indica from annual spread of rice was driven mainly by demographic expan- forebears in South Asia). This domestication occurred sion, associated with a spread of languages and archaeo- gradually between 7,000 and 4,000 BC, commencing at logical material culture. Environmental barriers also played the same time that summer monsoon rainfall and temper- major roles in establishing a “pause, adapt, spread, pause atures increased rapidly to levels that encouraged the again” mode of movement, such barriers relating to growth of O. rufipogon northwards to Shandong (Zong et availability of rainfall and alluvial land, latitude (photope- al. 2007). In addition, early Holocene global sea level rose riodism) and climatic seasonality, and the prior presences of 60 m, between 9,650 and 5,000 BC, as a result of glacial other populations, in some cases with vegetative gardening melt water release (Smith et al. 2011), converting the wide systems that did not involve rice or other cereals. coastal plain of eastern China into a much steeper coastline Contingency also played its part in rice history, as we can fringed with many offshore islands (see Fig. 1 for the see with the inability of this crop to spread into Oceania in former extent of this coastal plain). This rather phenomenal part due to the route followed by Neolithic colonizers. rate of climatic warming and coastal drowning was part of the transition from the Younger Dryas subglaciation of the . . . Keywords Oryza sative japonica China Southeast Asia terminal Pleistocene (c.10,800 to 9,500 BC) into the . . . Oceania Archaeology Prehistoric migration Linguistic Holocene epoch of modern interglacial climate. Perhaps it history is no coincidence that the oldest evidence for actual rice exploitation in the Yangzi Valley and its northern tributaries dates from this time span. The cultivation and domestication of rice in China Prior to the Younger Dryas, wild rice had only a very tenuous presence in certain caves to the south of the Yangzi First, I put forward a number of suggestions regarding the (Nakamura 2010). But fairly soon after the Younger Dryas, initial cultivation and eventual domestication of Oryza by at least 7,000 BC, the inland basin archaeological site of sativa (subspecies japonica) and the consequent spread of Shangshan in northern Zhejiang contained a small settle- the human populations who exploited and consumed it. ment of wooden pile dwellings with rice husk tempered P. Bellwood (*) In this paper the term “Yangzi Basin” is used loosely to refer to the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, whole drainage system of the middle and lower Yangzi river and its Australian National University, major tributaries both north and south, plus the lowlands that lie Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia around Hangzhou Bay in Zhejiang Province. Before Christ (BC) e-mail: peter.bellwood@anu.edu.au chronology is used throughout for consistency. 94 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 Fig. 1 China and Southeast Asia, to show archaeological sites, likely routes of early rice transfer, and possible language family homelands. red-slipped pottery, polished stone axes, and grindstones The idea that rice cultivation began close to the (Jiang and Liu 2006). The rice was morphologically wild, contemporary northern edge of the range of the wild but for the first time, we witness the possibility of human plant, as a reaction to periodically adverse climatic cultivation of rice and its deliberate threshing—the pottery circumstances, was to my knowledge first presented by contained chaff, not unprocessed whole grains (Zhao 2010). Yan (1991: 125). It makes good sense, and a slight Similar evidence, also dating back to about 7,000 BC and cooling of climate in central China at about 6,000 BC was including residue analysis in pottery as well as stable possibly a further stimulus to the development of isotope dietary analysis of human bone, indicates rice domestication, by inducing humans to actually plant the rice to ensure a continuing and reliable supply. For consumption at the site of Jiahu in the Huai Valley, a northern tributary of the Yangzi in Henan Province instance, at the site of Baligang, on the Han tributary of (McGovern et al. 2004; Hu et al. 2006; Liu et al. 2007). the middle Yangzi in Henan Province, there is evidence On comparative Austroasiatic linguistic grounds, Ferlus for a rice and acorn economy in the pre-Yangshao (2010) suggests that rice was eaten first as a gruel of archaeological phase at c.6,000 BC, followed by a shift crushed and roughly husked grain. Only later was it boiled to millet in the Yangshao itself (c.5,000 BC), and then a in loose grain form with a calculated amount of water to return to rice in the subsequent Longshan phase (Deng produce the “dry” dietary mainstay that so many people Zhenhua, Peking University, personal communication consume today. Diffloth (2011) also presents a strong case for 2011). Such fluctuations in the presence of rice might aword meaning “husked rice” as a Proto-Austroasiatic have reflected issues of availability and supply on the reconstruction. northern edge of its range. Rice (2011) 4:93–103 95 After Jiahu and Shangshan, further archaeological increasing population. Geertz (1963) referred to this process evidence for the intensification of rice exploitation comes as “agricultural involution,” noting that wet rice intensifi- from Kuahuqiao in northern Zhejiang (ZPICRA 2004; cation did not damage the environment because of the Zong et al. 2007). Dating to c.6,000 BC, this site has stability provided by terracing and field construction, and yielded a waterlogged canoe, wooden paddles, foundations the constant renewal of nutrients by riverine flooding. Fully of pile dwellings, a small proportion of morphologically irrigated wet rice at this level can only spread slowly domesticated rice (most grains still have wild morpholo- because of its need for high labor investment and stable gies) that resembles the japonica subspecies, and a tenurial arrangements in the establishment of new fields. possibility of pig domestication (Liu et al. 2007). By Kirch (1994) has noted a similar situation from a 4,600 BC, rice had risen at Tianluoshan to perhaps 30% of different perspective for wet taro (Colocasia esculenta) a plant food diet that also included acorns, water chestnuts, cultivation in the islands of Futuna and Hawai'i in and foxnuts (Fuller et al. 2009). By 4,000 BC, non- Polynesia. Wet taro was a highly productive agricultural shattering spikelet bases of carbonized rice grains had system in Polynesian prehistory that absorbed high quan- increased sufficiently in percentage in lower Yangzi sites tities of labor and supported populous and powerful (to between 40% and 65%) for Fuller et al. (2009) to accept chiefdoms. However, predatory chieftainship and territorial that rice had become fully domesticated, a process that had expansion emanated not from such areas of plenty but from progressed continuously for more than 2,500 years from the the dry and often overexploited landscapes on the leeward incipient stage of (mainly wild) rice cultivation represented sides of many Polynesian islands. Shifting cultivation under at Jiahu and Shangshan. conditions of periodic stress was the real recipe for Movement of rice in the early days of its cultivation to expansion and land taking, not cropping from highly new locations where water availability was seasonal, rather valuable and labor-intensive wet fields. Vayda (1961) made than perennial, appears to have been crucial for its eventual similar observations for groups such as the Iban of Borneo domestication as an annual cereal. Hill (2009) and Fuller et and the Tiv of Nigeria—shifting cultivation was often al. (2009) suggest that the wild ancestor of domesticated bound up with predatory and often very long distance rice, the perennial grass O. rufipogon,was originally expansion. The ethnographic rice swiddening Iban colo- harvested continuously in perennial swamps by ratooning. nized river banks through perhaps 1,000 km of Borneo, This practice produces lower yields than fresh planting of from western Sarawak to Brunei, in under a century (see seed, but requires far less labor. However, humans also Freeman 1970). eventually would have planted rice seeds outside permanent In the heartland of early rice cultivation in the middle wetlands, perhaps in seasonally wet terrain where the and lower Yangzi Basin, it is likely that rice farming had climatic regime would have imposed selection for the already reached highly intensive levels by as early as 4,000 annual growth habit that characterizes O. sativa. Out- BC. Incipient wet rice field complexes date back to almost planting away from wild stands would also have allowed 5,000 BC at Tianluoshan (Zheng et al. 2009). Fuller et al. any selection towards nonshattering to be retained more (2011) suggest that by 3,000 BC, the system was highly easily with each successive monsoonal planting season productive, capable of supporting the huge population of (Allaby et al. 2008). The implication here is that the very the Liangzhu phase in the lower Yangzi valley. The process of radiation and migration on the part of humans elongated Liangzhu wet rice fields at Maoshan, for was an essential part of the domestication process for rice instance, dating from c.3,200–2,400 BC, were separated right from the start. by long paralleled bunds of fired soil about 20 m apart and Under what kind of cultivation system did rice cultiva- covered an area of at least 50 by 700 m, according to tion initially spread? Fuller and Qin (2009) have suggested phytolith analysis (Qin Ling, Peking University, personal that it spread originally as a wet field crop and also suggest communication 2011). It seems unlikely that rice cultiva- that it spread as a result of increasing social complexity and tion spread into Southeast Asia with the first farmers as a intensification. However, the labor and land tenurial simple transplant of this Liangzhu intensive production demands of intensive wet rice production, and the nature system. of the early Holocene environments of coastal China and Southeast Asia render this mode of production rather The exact size and density of the Liangzhu population will never be unlikely in a pioneer colonization situation, however much known with certainty, but Zhang and Hung (2008) record for the it might have spread among established and demographi- nearby Dongting Lake region of Hunan Province (middle Yangzi) an increase from 22 small sites in the Pengtoushan Phase (6,000 BC) to cally increasing rice-growing populations in later periods. 200 sites, including some very large ones, in the Qujialing-Shijiahe In an economic context, fully irrigated wet rice, as Phase (3,500–2,000 BC), contemporary with Liangzhu. For the lower recorded (for instance) in colonial Java, had an enormous Yangzi, Li et al. (2009, Table 2) record an increase from only three ability to absorb an increasing labor input and to feed an sites prior to 5,000 BC to 517 by 2,000 BC. 96 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 Indeed, there is every reason to expect that early shelf), forming “fiords” flanked by steep slopes until human agricultural expansion into and through a landscape of occupation and forest clearance allowed lowlands to hunter-gatherers would have tended to emphasize those accumulate alluvium and colluvium (cf. Spriggs 2011; systems of production that minimized labor input, especial- Carson 2011, for identical situations in Oceanic islands at ly in situations where manpower was limited. We can see a first colonization). Such coastal plain and valley sedimen- parallel here in the first human settlement of the islands of tation probably did not develop to any degree in Luzon Polynesia, including New Zealand, in which agriculturalist until long after Neolithic farmers had impacted on the settlers (without rice) spent the first few decades of their environment through burning and forest clearance, certainly occupation in a fairly avid reduction, even extirpation, of long after 1,000 BC. easily accessible and naïve bird and sea mammal resources. In mainland Southeast Asia, the only areas of alluvium Investment of labor in wet taro fields appears to have been that could have offered suitable areas for wet rice a late prehistoric activity in most island groups, fueled by cultivation at 2,000 BC, without a considerable input of population increase and the need for intensification of labor on the part of the farmers, were presumably on the production (Kirch 2010; Spriggs 2011). fringes of the largest riverine basins like the Pearl, Red, and Another factor that would have inhibited the export of Mekong (Proske et al. 2010). Island Southeast has only full-scale intensive wet rice agriculture was the nature of small riverine basins, and many regions outside Java and the early Holocene coastal terrain of East Asia, following Bali had very poor potential for wet rice production owing the very dramatic postglacial rise of sea level. This to unfavorable equatorial climates, soils, and terrain (Pelzer transformed the eastern coastline of China from a coastal 1948; Geertz 1963; Spencer 1966). If wet rice production plain up to 700 km wide into an archipelago (Nakamura was involved in farming expansions out of central China, it 2010, see Fig. 1). Modern sea level was reached generally was surely at a very basic level without major investment in by about 5,000 BC, but in areas of shallow continental wet field infrastructure. shelf, such as Sundaland (western Indonesia) and the eastern coastline of China, isostatic loading by the weight of sea water would have caused crustal sinking to continue Early rice and the linguistic record until well after this dated. Proske et al. (2010) dates the highest sea level (+2.5 m) to between 4,000 and 3,000 BC The major language families of Southeast Asia (Austrone- in what is today the Mekong Delta, and Sathiamurthy and sian, Austroasiatic, Tai, Hmong-Mien, and Sino-Tibetan) all Voris (2006) recognize a +5-m-high stand for this area as have reconstructable proto-vocabularies that suggest an recently as 2,200 BC. This means that rice cultivation was early and deep acquaintance with rice and its exploitation spreading southwards from central China at a time when the (Zorc 1994; Sagart 2003; Ferlus 2010; Ratliff 2010; Wolff coastlines were maximally flooded by the Holocene sea 2010; Diffloth 2011). In the Austronesian case, this could level rise, and any perennial freshwater swamps beyond the imply, on linguistic grounds, a familiarity with both wet range of tidal influence would have been of very limited and dry rice as well as with transplantation techniques extent. In the more fortunate situation of the Yangzi Delta, (Sagart 2003). Sagart also favors a dual origin for rice many of the early sites with rice appear to have been vocabularies, one within Austroasiatic and another within sheltered behind a series of chenier ridges that formed Tai and Austronesian. Allowing that rice cultivation was inland from Shanghai (Zong et al. 2007, Fig. 1; Zheng et al. first developed in a generalized Yangzi source region, this 2009). But such favorable circumstances are unlikely to could suggest a dual expansion of rice vocabulary, on the have been available along the more exposed coastlines of one hand involving coastal China from southern Shandong China, south of Hangzhou Bay. southwards to Hainan and Taiwan [Austronesian and Tai, Thus, Rolett et al. (2011) note that the Neolithic site of with (Sagart 2005a, 2008) suggested links to Sino-Tibetan] Tanshishan, in Fujian Province, now 75 km inland near and on the other hand an inland riverine Austroasiatic Fuzhou city was located between 3,000 and 2,300 BC on dispersal (Sidwell 2010). an island in the inner and then estuarine Fuzhou Basin. No The heavily overlain distribution of the Austroasiatic good deltaic land was available for wet rice agriculture, and language family means that it no longer has a precisely the excavators think that the Tanshishan economy was still reconstructable homeland, but Diffloth (2005) suggests close basically without reliance on rice. I have noted a similar to the Bay of Bengal, while Sidwell (2010) favors a Mekong situation for the coastline and rivers of Ilocos Norte in the Basin origin. Has evidence for a now invisible Yangzi northern Philippines (Bellwood et al. 2008); the Holocene homeland for Austroasiatic been erased by Sinitic language sea level rise here drowned narrow incised valleys that were expansion? Or was Austroasiatic dispersal a result of a cut down to the last glacial maximum coastline over steep domino effect, with populations of ultimate Yangzi origin coastal terrain (the Philippines do not lie on a continental introducing rice cultivation to a Southeast Asian (early Rice (2011) 4:93–103 97 Austroasiatic) linguistic population located outside the exploitation (deforestation?) that these islands were actu- Yangzi Basin, which then expanded further in its own right? ally abandoned for agriculture for about 2000 years after The archaeological record can never prove or disprove 1500 BC. It is thus most interesting that the movement of linguistic homeland and migration hypotheses such as Neolithic populations from Taiwan into the northern these, but it can render some more likely than others. For Philippines can now be dated with considerable confi- instance, Zhang and Hung (2010) use purely archaeological dence to about 2,000 BC (Bellwood and Dizon 2005, evidence to suggest expansions of rice cultivation from the 2008;Hung 2005), thus at or just after a time when both Yangzi basin via two routes like those just derived from the the Taiwan and Penghu sequences reveal very high linguistic evidence: one coastal from Zhejiang down to population densities. A contemporary movement of Tai- Fujian and Taiwan, and the other by inland valleys from the speaking populations along the lines suggested by Sagart middle Yangzi to Guangxi and the SE Asian mainland. The is therefore not impossible on demographic grounds, even two streams perhaps met, and mixed, in Guangdong. Such if archaeological evidence for or against it is currently observations could make a central or southern Chinese lacking. origin for rice vocabularies rather likely. Sagart’s(2005b) suggestion of a Taiwan or northern Philippine origin for the Tai language family, as a cousinly Early rice and the archaeological record subgroup to Malayo-Polynesian, is difficult to assess archaeologically because of the relative lack of Neolithic The archaeological chronology of development and outflow information from the key Chinese provinces of Hainan, of Neolithic lifestyles in the eastern Asian region can be Guangdong, and Guangxi. Evidence for rice cultivation summarized as follows (Bellwood 2005: chapters 6, 7, and only reached these regions, like Taiwan, around 3,000 BC, 10; Zhang and Hung 2008, 2010; Fuller et al. 2010; possibly not until 2,000 BC in the case of northern Vietnam Bellwood et al. 2011b): (Zhang and Hung 2010). Early Neolithic links in artifact 1. 8,000–6,000 BC: Development of predomestication assemblages between Taiwan and the Pearl Delta region of cereal agriculture in central China, with japonica rice Guangdong have been suggested (e.g., by Tsang 2005: 71), in the Yangzi, Han, Huai, and lower Yellow river but the archaeological record at this stage is too thin to basins, and mostly foxtail and broomcorn millets to the allow any real testing of Sagart’s hypothesis for Tai. west and north. Indica rice was domesticated in South However, there is good evidence for considerable Asia much later and played no role in the East Asian population growth in Taiwan from the Early Neolithic Neolithic. (3,500 BC) onwards to the Middle Neolithic at about 2,000 2. 6,000–3,500 BC: Gradual spread of Neolithic lifestyles BC. Liu (2007: 55) records, for the Danshui River near through southern China, accompanied by an increasing Taipei, an increase in settlement numbers from 3 in the predominance, especially after 4,000 BC of fully early Dabenkeng (earliest Neolithic) phase to more than 20 domesticated (nonshattering) rice in the middle Dabenkeng, then to more than 50 in the 3. 3,500 BC: Neolithic settlement of Taiwan (Dabenkeng following Middle Neolithic Shuntanpu phase at c.2,000 culture), presumably following developments in Fujian BC. He notes also that Middle Neolithic sites elsewhere in and/or Guangdong (Jiao 2007; Tsang 2005) Taiwan can be up to 20 to 30 times larger than Dabenkeng 4. 3,000–2,000 BC: Neolithic settlement of mainland sites (e.g., 60 ha for Niuchouzi). For eastern Taiwan, Hung Southeast Asia from Guangdong and Guangxi into (2005) documents only five Dabenkeng sites dating from northern Vietnam, and possibly down the Mekong river c.3,500 to 2,500 BC, then 43 Middle Neolithic sites dating (or down the Southeast Asian coastline) into southern between 2,500 and 1,500 BC. So the period from 3,500 to Vietnam and Thailand (Higham 2004; Oxenham et al. 2,000 BC was clearly one of considerable population 2011; Bellwood et al. 2011a) growth throughout the island. 5. 2,000–1,500 BC: Neolithic settlement of the Philip- Likewise, for the sandy and windswept Penghu pines and central Indonesia, via Taiwan, and of the Islands in Taiwan Strait, Tsang (1992:60–62) records a Mariana Islands from the northern Philippines (Bell- total of only four Dabenkeng sites but 32 Middle Neolithic wood and Hiscock 2009; Hung et al. 2011) sites (c.2,500–2,000 BC). However, there was then a sharp In my book First Farmers (Bellwood 2005), these decline to only four sites dated to the interval 2,000–1,500 Neolithic spreads are related mainly to the establishments BC, after which these islands appear to lack subsequent of the Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, and Austronesian occupation until the Chinese historical period, within the language families, with the movements of Tai, Tibeto- past 1,000 years. There is a possibility here that coloni- Burman, and Hmong-Mien speakers being mainly post- zation by a Neolithic rice growing population led to such Neolithic. For the Chinese Neolithic heartland itself, high levels of population growth and environmental over- 98 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 especially along the Yellow River, we can read continuity Into a friction zone (Bellwood 2001: 189) of cultural development from Neolithic times into the Sinitic-speaking Chinese Bronze Age culture of the Moving eastwards beyond Borneo and Bali into Wallacea, Shang Dynasty. For Austroasiatic, Higham (2004)and we find that rice faded rapidly in importance prior to 1950 Rispoli (2007) equate the Neolithic movement through and never penetrated into or beyond New Guinea at all mainland Southeast Asia with the spread of rice cultiva- (Spencer 1966, Figs. 4 and 5). I have discussed this issue tion and incised/stamped pottery from southern China many times (Bellwood 1980, 1985, 1997, 2011) and refer (including Yunnan) into Vietnam, Thailand, Indochina, here mainly to the discussion published in my Prehistory of and Peninsular Malaysia after 2,500/2,000 BC. Offshore, the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. In both editions of that the spread of Austronesian languages with Neolithic book, I suggested that rice faded owing to the inherent population movements from Taiwan to the Philippines unsuitability of the equatorial environment for its cultiva- and Indonesia is also now well documented archaeolog- tion (mainly after Spencer 1966), and that early Austro- ically for the period between 2,000 and 1,500 BC nesians were not entirely a population of avid rice (Bellwood and Dizon 2005, 2008;Bellwood 2011;Bell- cultivators but also contained subpopulations with maritime wood et al. 2011b). However, in tropical Island Southeast or foraging adaptations (as suggested by Sather 1995). Asia beyond Taiwan, a large number of native fruits and They would have been precisely the kind of people we tubers were also incorporated into the economic reper- might expect to sail away by boat, probably without rice, to toire, and rice and millet probably faded in significance as exploit the resources of new islands. Dewar (2003) has populations approached equatorial latitudes (Bellwood since developed the climatic argument in terms of an 1997). increasing unreliability of rainfall, inhibiting rice cultivation The prehistory of rice cultivation in Island Southeast as one moves east through Island Southeast Asia towards Asia is particularly obscure, no doubt in part due to a eastern Melanesia. Neither Dewar nor I see evidence for a simple lack of specialized archaeobotanical research (Cas- sometimes claimed early pre-rice phase of tuber and fruit tillo and Fuller 2010). For instance, remains of rice and cultivation in China or most of Southeast Asia, until one millet were universally absent from sites of the Dabenkeng approaches the acknowledged and independent focus of phase in Taiwan (3,500–2,500 BC) until both were found in fruit and tuber domestication in the New Guinea Highlands. unprecedented carbonized quantities dating to c.2,800 BC, It is possible that this spread into adjacent Melanesian in hitherto unique waterlogged conditions, in the Nanguanli lowland regions, including parts of eastern Indonesia sites in the Tainan Science-Based Industrial Park (Tsang (Donohue and Denham 2010; Lentfer et al. 2010), but the 2005; Tsang et al. 2004). In fact, the list of sites in Island evidence for this is at present rather limited. Southeast Asia in which evidence for rice has been found, Was an unsupportive environment the main reason for particularly as a result of careful analysis of pottery or the nonspread of rice eastwards? Rice undoubtedly found phytoliths, is rapidly increasing, especially in circumstances very supportive climatic and soil conditions in some where carbonized macro-remains are absent. Numerous nonequatorial islands south of the equator, such as Java occurrences are now reported from Taiwan and Borneo and Bali, and it must have crossed the equator to reach (Bellwood 2011; Hsieh et al. this issue). them, suggesting that varieties that were insensitive to day In addition, where morphological or genetic analysis length variation were selected for quite early on in the has been carried out on carbonized rice grains from Austronesian migration process. Indeed, there is no obvious Southeast Asian sites that are more than 2,000 years reason why rice should have disappeared altogether on old, available results all suggest the presence of approaching New Guinea. After all, many Pacific Island japonica but not yet indica, hence supporting a model of populations developed very intensive methods of wet field Neolithic expansion southwards from China. Castillo (this cultivation for aroids, and the New Guinea Highlands had a issue) presents this conclusion for late Neolithic and very long tradition of draining and managing swamps for Bronze Age Thailand, as do Hsieh et al. for Nanguanli the cultivation of Colocasia taro, so it is hard to imagine in Taiwan. Katsunori Tanaka (in Bellwood et al. 2011a) that the environment was totally to blame. If early speakers has presented chloroplast DNA evidence that the rice chaff of Malayo-Polynesian (Extra-Formosan Austronesian) lan- temper in pottery from Neolithic An Son in southern guages regarded rice highly, they would surely have tried to Vietnam (2,000–1,200 BC) was also from japonica rice. carry it with them on their migrations eastwards into some Indica rice does not make an appearance in Southeast Asia of the larger and better watered Pacific islands. until about 2,000 years ago, contemporary with the However, rice might have held little value for the beginnings of contact with India. indigenous non-Austronesian populations of eastern Indo- But one problem remains. Why was rice not carried by nesia and Melanesia (including New Guinea), especially in migrating Austronesians into and across Oceania? competition with tuber and fruit horticulture using vegeta- Rice (2011) 4:93–103 99 tive methods of planting. As Pelzer (1948: 7) once noted: acquired this status by virtue of not sharing any of the “…a plant, the introduction of which involves a change in defining innovations of Proto-Oceanic. It might be methods of cultivation, [will only be] accepted under more accurate to state merely that Chamorro is not an pressure.” New Guineans did not have grain crops, and Oceanic language, without implying any particular relied on tubers and plants such as bananas and sugar cane subgrouping status for it, although its likely origin in that were planted vegetatively. Also, while mid-Holocene the Philippines is well supported by comparative New Guineans did indeed manage water levels for raised linguistics (Blust 2000; Reid 2002). bed and drained fields in swamps, they did not use the 3. New Guinea itself appears to have played no direct role bunded wet field methods typical for wet taro in eastern in the transmission eastwards of Malayo-Polynesian Island Melanesia and Polynesia. So, a nonadoption of rice languages, and the establishment of them in much of by non-Austronesians is perhaps to be expected. But its Papua New Guinea was very marginal and late in time, failure to travel with Malayo-Polynesian-speaking popula- possibly within the past 2,500 years (Ross 1988; tions into other uninhabited regions of Oceania still remains Pawley 2002). Proto-Oceanic itself has generally been surprising, given the suitability of many Oceanic islands for located by linguists in the Bismarck Archipelago, not in wet taro production. New Guinea itself, neither does New Guinea have I think the answer here may be a historical one, significant early Lapita sites. The island itself appears involving the precise directionality of ancient Malayo- not to have been involved in any early spread of Polynesian colonization into Oceania. For many years, it Southeast Asian Neolithic artifact categories from has been assumed (including by me) that this emanated Indonesia into Oceania. from eastern Indonesia at about 1,350 BC, most likely from 4. Indeed, as the initial Neolithic culture of Oceania, Halmahera, and reached the Bismarck Archipelago by Lapita had no visible origin in the eastern Indonesian skirting the northern coastline of New Guinea, in the guise Neolithic at all. Perhaps, like the Talasea (New Britain) of the Lapita culture of archaeologists (e.g., Bellwood obsidian excavated from layers dated to c.1,000 BC in 1997). But there is no strong evidence for this scenario, and the rock shelter of Bukit Tengkorak in Sabah (Bell- there are a number of points against it: wood 1997), the very few pottery finds in Indonesia with decoration that resembles late Lapita represent an 1. There is no secure linguistic evidence for deriving east to west movement from the Bismarcks, rather than Proto-Oceanic specifically from south Halmahera or vice versa. west New Guinea, except for Robert Blust’s (e.g., 2009) placement of the Oceanic and south Halmahera/ On the other hand, the “Pacific” mtDNA clade of pigs west New Guinea subgroups of Malayo-Polynesian associated with Lapita dispersal originated on the northern within a greater Eastern Malayo-Polynesian subgroup. mainland of Southeast Asia or southern China, and did not But south Halmahera/West New Guinea is only weakly apparently travel into Oceania via Taiwan or the Philippines defined by shared innovations, and equally likely is a (Larson et al. 2010). So this might have traveled via concept of an initial and rapid radiation over a very Indonesia. But this need not imply an Indonesian origin for large area of a series of dialects of Proto-Malayo- the Lapita population, or its pots, or its Proto-Oceanic Polynesian, mostly still intercomprehensible owing to language because pigs could easily have been transmitted the short time of differentiation, at the beginning of the as commodities via exchange back along the same route Island Southeast Asian Neolithic (c.2,000-1,500 BC). that brought the Talasea obsidian in the other direction to The formation of the extant subgroups of Malayo- Borneo. There is no reason why a species or lineage of Polynesian would then have postdated this phase. domesticated animal needs travel as part of a significant Under such circumstances, the genesis of Proto- human migration; dingoes (dogs) reached Australia in Oceanic in the Bismarck or Admiralty Islands could prehistoric times with no trace of any human migration at have drawn on early and undifferentiated Malayo- all. Polynesian linguistic resources from anywhere in Island To explain the lack of Lapita connections in eastern Southeast Asia, both Philippines and Indonesia (and not Indonesia, it has recently been proposed that the initial just Halmahera or west New Guinea), as well as taking movement of Malayo-Polynesian speakers into Oceania on indigenous Papuan loans in Melanesia (Donohue went from the northern Philippines eastwards to the and Denham 2010). Mariana Islands, then down from there southwards into 2. Likewise, Chamorro is normally classified as a Western the Bismarcks (Hung et al. 2011; Bellwood 2011). Later, Malayo-Polynesian language today, but given the lack but prior to any significant differentiation of Proto-Oceanic, of any complete internal subgrouping for the Western movement continued back around the north side of New Malayo-Polynesian languages, it is likely that it has Guinea into eastern Indonesia. This movement carried the 100 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 distinctive zonal elements of Lapita red-slipped pottery opposite direction, from the Bismarcks to Indonesia. decoration from Luzon via the Marianas into the Bis- Malayo-Polynesian migration in the western Pacific was marcks, but the huge open sea distances involved thereby a massive clockwise circle rather than a one-way (c.2,300 km on both legs) meant that neither rice nor pigs arrow that always headed east. survived the voyages. There is no dry land between Luzon and Guam, and 3,500 years ago, the Micronesian atolls Conclusions were not yet emergent (Dickinson 2003). So the distances of unbroken ocean that had to be crossed were immense, as In my Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago no doubt were the difficulties of keeping alive stocks of rice, pigs, and dogs during voyages in small canoes with (Bellwood 1985, 1997: 249–254), I suggested three little weather or sea spray protection. It is worth adding that successive phases for the prehistory of rice cultivation in southern China and Southeast Asia. The first, from southern the specific style of pottery referred to above as linking Luzon, the Marianas, and Lapita has never been found in China to Taiwan and the northern Philippines, involved both localized swamp cultivation and dry land shifting Yap or Palau, both subjected to intensive archaeological survey in recent years. cultivation. The second involved mostly shifting cultivation as Austronesian-speaking populations moved through the Pigs and dogs are not reported at all from Marianas prehistory, although a limited amount of rice growing was Philippines into the equatorial zone and towards eastern Indonesia, and also a gradual demise of rice in the face of attested there in the seventeenth century, albeit not recorded by Antonio Pigafetta in 1521 (Nowell 1962: 130–131). the indigenous tubers and fruits that were more suited to perhumid and equatorial environmental conditions. The Blust (2000: 109) suggests that Chamorro has inherited third phase saw the establishment of wet rice cultivation rice-associated vocabulary directly from Proto-Austronesian and that rice must have been taken there in prehistory. after 500 BC in regions of high population growth such as Java and Bali, especially in fertile volcanic landscapes Perhaps so, but there is as yet no archaeological evidence for its presence in the Marianas, and even if it did reach the where terracing could be constructed. Wet rice did not always require a state-level organization, as we can see Marianas, it is unlikely to have traveled successfully onwards to the Bismarcks by that route. This probably from the Mountain Province (Ifugao) terraces in northern Luzon. But my suspicion is that it required both good means that the founders of Proto-Oceanic arrived in the Bismarcks from the Marianas with linguistic resources sources of irrigation water and an increasing population, no doubt operating in a mutualistic relationship akin to Geertz’ very close to Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, but without pigs and rice. The pigs came rapidly later from Indonesia, (1963) concept of agricultural involution. This outline still seems acceptable to me, but now, we the rice never. understand much better the earlier archaeological sequence Rice, therefore, was not taken into Oceania for two reasons: towards rice domestication in China. The core develop- mental sequence in the Yangzi Basin and adjacent areas, 1. The initial Malayo-Polynesian migration from the from wild rice management to intensive wet field construc- Philippines, via the Marianas, to the Bismarcks took tion, occupied the millennia from about 7,000 to 4,000 BC. place under circumstances too difficult for viable rice By the time that rice cultivation was spreading into regions seed stock to get through, and the same applies to pigs such as Vietnam and Taiwan (c.3,000 to 2,000 BC), the and presumably to all other domesticated animals via inner part of the Yangzi Basin had become locked into a that particular route. cycle of wet rice intensification and geographic inertia that 2. The movement of rice southeastwards through Indonesia would have slowed down any inclination for migration on eventually ceased owing to the presence of a resistant the part of the core populations themselves, unless adverse environmental conditions altered the situation drastically. Papuan-speaking population, still dominant today in New Guinea, that had no interest in its adoption as a viable There is indeed some evidence that stress factors might have afflicted lower Yangzi populations during the Maqiao crop. The density and food-producing status of this indigenous population brought the Malayo-Polynesian phase between 1,900 and 1,200 BC (Chen et al. 2005), but migration to a linguistic and genetic standstill in the this seems a little late in time as an explanation for rice southeastern corner of Indonesia (Lansing et al. 2011; expansion, given that rice farmers had already been in Cox et al. 2010; Karafet et al. 2010). There is really no Taiwan for about a millennium beforehand. clear evidence at all for any migration of Malayo- Regardless of whether or not serious mid-Holocene Polynesian-speaking populations from west to east in the climatic change actually occurred in the Yangzi Basin, the vicinity of New Guinea, neither to its north nor to its situation of increasing social complexity would have south, and it is suggested here that they moved in the brought peripheral populations into more frequent domino Rice (2011) 4:93–103 101 matching archaeology, linguistics and genetics. London: relationships with the core groups, magnified no doubt if Routledge; 2008. p. 23–39. that core was suffering from periodic climatic downturns or Bellwood P, Hiscock P. Holocene Australia and the Pacific Basin. In: marine transgressions. Peripheral populations who adopted Scarre C, editor. The human past. 2nd ed. London: Thames and cultivation of a rice plant that had already been domesti- Hudson; 2009. p. 264–305. 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The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to the Equator

Rice , Volume 4 (4) – Dec 9, 2011

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References (120)

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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
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1939-8433
DOI
10.1007/s12284-011-9068-9
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Abstract

Rice (2011) 4:93–103 DOI 10.1007/s12284-011-9068-9 The Checkered Prehistory of Rice Movement Southwards as a Domesticated Cereal—from the Yangzi to the Equator Peter Bellwood Received: 11 October 2011 /Accepted: 30 October 2011 /Published online: 9 December 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011 Abstract This paper discusses the origins of Oryza sativa Current genetic evidence suggests only one domestication japonica rice cultivation in the Yangzi region of China and of Oryza rufipogon, the ancestral perennial species for asks how and with which migrating human populations it japonica, in or close to the Yangzi Basin (Molina et al. spread south to reach Taiwan by 3,000 BC and Southeast 2011; Zhao 2010; in this paper, I do not discuss the separate Asia by 2,000 BC. The perspective adopted is that the domestication of O. sativa subspecies indica from annual spread of rice was driven mainly by demographic expan- forebears in South Asia). This domestication occurred sion, associated with a spread of languages and archaeo- gradually between 7,000 and 4,000 BC, commencing at logical material culture. Environmental barriers also played the same time that summer monsoon rainfall and temper- major roles in establishing a “pause, adapt, spread, pause atures increased rapidly to levels that encouraged the again” mode of movement, such barriers relating to growth of O. rufipogon northwards to Shandong (Zong et availability of rainfall and alluvial land, latitude (photope- al. 2007). In addition, early Holocene global sea level rose riodism) and climatic seasonality, and the prior presences of 60 m, between 9,650 and 5,000 BC, as a result of glacial other populations, in some cases with vegetative gardening melt water release (Smith et al. 2011), converting the wide systems that did not involve rice or other cereals. coastal plain of eastern China into a much steeper coastline Contingency also played its part in rice history, as we can fringed with many offshore islands (see Fig. 1 for the see with the inability of this crop to spread into Oceania in former extent of this coastal plain). This rather phenomenal part due to the route followed by Neolithic colonizers. rate of climatic warming and coastal drowning was part of the transition from the Younger Dryas subglaciation of the . . . Keywords Oryza sative japonica China Southeast Asia terminal Pleistocene (c.10,800 to 9,500 BC) into the . . . Oceania Archaeology Prehistoric migration Linguistic Holocene epoch of modern interglacial climate. Perhaps it history is no coincidence that the oldest evidence for actual rice exploitation in the Yangzi Valley and its northern tributaries dates from this time span. The cultivation and domestication of rice in China Prior to the Younger Dryas, wild rice had only a very tenuous presence in certain caves to the south of the Yangzi First, I put forward a number of suggestions regarding the (Nakamura 2010). But fairly soon after the Younger Dryas, initial cultivation and eventual domestication of Oryza by at least 7,000 BC, the inland basin archaeological site of sativa (subspecies japonica) and the consequent spread of Shangshan in northern Zhejiang contained a small settle- the human populations who exploited and consumed it. ment of wooden pile dwellings with rice husk tempered P. Bellwood (*) In this paper the term “Yangzi Basin” is used loosely to refer to the School of Archaeology and Anthropology, whole drainage system of the middle and lower Yangzi river and its Australian National University, major tributaries both north and south, plus the lowlands that lie Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia around Hangzhou Bay in Zhejiang Province. Before Christ (BC) e-mail: peter.bellwood@anu.edu.au chronology is used throughout for consistency. 94 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 Fig. 1 China and Southeast Asia, to show archaeological sites, likely routes of early rice transfer, and possible language family homelands. red-slipped pottery, polished stone axes, and grindstones The idea that rice cultivation began close to the (Jiang and Liu 2006). The rice was morphologically wild, contemporary northern edge of the range of the wild but for the first time, we witness the possibility of human plant, as a reaction to periodically adverse climatic cultivation of rice and its deliberate threshing—the pottery circumstances, was to my knowledge first presented by contained chaff, not unprocessed whole grains (Zhao 2010). Yan (1991: 125). It makes good sense, and a slight Similar evidence, also dating back to about 7,000 BC and cooling of climate in central China at about 6,000 BC was including residue analysis in pottery as well as stable possibly a further stimulus to the development of isotope dietary analysis of human bone, indicates rice domestication, by inducing humans to actually plant the rice to ensure a continuing and reliable supply. For consumption at the site of Jiahu in the Huai Valley, a northern tributary of the Yangzi in Henan Province instance, at the site of Baligang, on the Han tributary of (McGovern et al. 2004; Hu et al. 2006; Liu et al. 2007). the middle Yangzi in Henan Province, there is evidence On comparative Austroasiatic linguistic grounds, Ferlus for a rice and acorn economy in the pre-Yangshao (2010) suggests that rice was eaten first as a gruel of archaeological phase at c.6,000 BC, followed by a shift crushed and roughly husked grain. Only later was it boiled to millet in the Yangshao itself (c.5,000 BC), and then a in loose grain form with a calculated amount of water to return to rice in the subsequent Longshan phase (Deng produce the “dry” dietary mainstay that so many people Zhenhua, Peking University, personal communication consume today. Diffloth (2011) also presents a strong case for 2011). Such fluctuations in the presence of rice might aword meaning “husked rice” as a Proto-Austroasiatic have reflected issues of availability and supply on the reconstruction. northern edge of its range. Rice (2011) 4:93–103 95 After Jiahu and Shangshan, further archaeological increasing population. Geertz (1963) referred to this process evidence for the intensification of rice exploitation comes as “agricultural involution,” noting that wet rice intensifi- from Kuahuqiao in northern Zhejiang (ZPICRA 2004; cation did not damage the environment because of the Zong et al. 2007). Dating to c.6,000 BC, this site has stability provided by terracing and field construction, and yielded a waterlogged canoe, wooden paddles, foundations the constant renewal of nutrients by riverine flooding. Fully of pile dwellings, a small proportion of morphologically irrigated wet rice at this level can only spread slowly domesticated rice (most grains still have wild morpholo- because of its need for high labor investment and stable gies) that resembles the japonica subspecies, and a tenurial arrangements in the establishment of new fields. possibility of pig domestication (Liu et al. 2007). By Kirch (1994) has noted a similar situation from a 4,600 BC, rice had risen at Tianluoshan to perhaps 30% of different perspective for wet taro (Colocasia esculenta) a plant food diet that also included acorns, water chestnuts, cultivation in the islands of Futuna and Hawai'i in and foxnuts (Fuller et al. 2009). By 4,000 BC, non- Polynesia. Wet taro was a highly productive agricultural shattering spikelet bases of carbonized rice grains had system in Polynesian prehistory that absorbed high quan- increased sufficiently in percentage in lower Yangzi sites tities of labor and supported populous and powerful (to between 40% and 65%) for Fuller et al. (2009) to accept chiefdoms. However, predatory chieftainship and territorial that rice had become fully domesticated, a process that had expansion emanated not from such areas of plenty but from progressed continuously for more than 2,500 years from the the dry and often overexploited landscapes on the leeward incipient stage of (mainly wild) rice cultivation represented sides of many Polynesian islands. Shifting cultivation under at Jiahu and Shangshan. conditions of periodic stress was the real recipe for Movement of rice in the early days of its cultivation to expansion and land taking, not cropping from highly new locations where water availability was seasonal, rather valuable and labor-intensive wet fields. Vayda (1961) made than perennial, appears to have been crucial for its eventual similar observations for groups such as the Iban of Borneo domestication as an annual cereal. Hill (2009) and Fuller et and the Tiv of Nigeria—shifting cultivation was often al. (2009) suggest that the wild ancestor of domesticated bound up with predatory and often very long distance rice, the perennial grass O. rufipogon,was originally expansion. The ethnographic rice swiddening Iban colo- harvested continuously in perennial swamps by ratooning. nized river banks through perhaps 1,000 km of Borneo, This practice produces lower yields than fresh planting of from western Sarawak to Brunei, in under a century (see seed, but requires far less labor. However, humans also Freeman 1970). eventually would have planted rice seeds outside permanent In the heartland of early rice cultivation in the middle wetlands, perhaps in seasonally wet terrain where the and lower Yangzi Basin, it is likely that rice farming had climatic regime would have imposed selection for the already reached highly intensive levels by as early as 4,000 annual growth habit that characterizes O. sativa. Out- BC. Incipient wet rice field complexes date back to almost planting away from wild stands would also have allowed 5,000 BC at Tianluoshan (Zheng et al. 2009). Fuller et al. any selection towards nonshattering to be retained more (2011) suggest that by 3,000 BC, the system was highly easily with each successive monsoonal planting season productive, capable of supporting the huge population of (Allaby et al. 2008). The implication here is that the very the Liangzhu phase in the lower Yangzi valley. The process of radiation and migration on the part of humans elongated Liangzhu wet rice fields at Maoshan, for was an essential part of the domestication process for rice instance, dating from c.3,200–2,400 BC, were separated right from the start. by long paralleled bunds of fired soil about 20 m apart and Under what kind of cultivation system did rice cultiva- covered an area of at least 50 by 700 m, according to tion initially spread? Fuller and Qin (2009) have suggested phytolith analysis (Qin Ling, Peking University, personal that it spread originally as a wet field crop and also suggest communication 2011). It seems unlikely that rice cultiva- that it spread as a result of increasing social complexity and tion spread into Southeast Asia with the first farmers as a intensification. However, the labor and land tenurial simple transplant of this Liangzhu intensive production demands of intensive wet rice production, and the nature system. of the early Holocene environments of coastal China and Southeast Asia render this mode of production rather The exact size and density of the Liangzhu population will never be unlikely in a pioneer colonization situation, however much known with certainty, but Zhang and Hung (2008) record for the it might have spread among established and demographi- nearby Dongting Lake region of Hunan Province (middle Yangzi) an increase from 22 small sites in the Pengtoushan Phase (6,000 BC) to cally increasing rice-growing populations in later periods. 200 sites, including some very large ones, in the Qujialing-Shijiahe In an economic context, fully irrigated wet rice, as Phase (3,500–2,000 BC), contemporary with Liangzhu. For the lower recorded (for instance) in colonial Java, had an enormous Yangzi, Li et al. (2009, Table 2) record an increase from only three ability to absorb an increasing labor input and to feed an sites prior to 5,000 BC to 517 by 2,000 BC. 96 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 Indeed, there is every reason to expect that early shelf), forming “fiords” flanked by steep slopes until human agricultural expansion into and through a landscape of occupation and forest clearance allowed lowlands to hunter-gatherers would have tended to emphasize those accumulate alluvium and colluvium (cf. Spriggs 2011; systems of production that minimized labor input, especial- Carson 2011, for identical situations in Oceanic islands at ly in situations where manpower was limited. We can see a first colonization). Such coastal plain and valley sedimen- parallel here in the first human settlement of the islands of tation probably did not develop to any degree in Luzon Polynesia, including New Zealand, in which agriculturalist until long after Neolithic farmers had impacted on the settlers (without rice) spent the first few decades of their environment through burning and forest clearance, certainly occupation in a fairly avid reduction, even extirpation, of long after 1,000 BC. easily accessible and naïve bird and sea mammal resources. In mainland Southeast Asia, the only areas of alluvium Investment of labor in wet taro fields appears to have been that could have offered suitable areas for wet rice a late prehistoric activity in most island groups, fueled by cultivation at 2,000 BC, without a considerable input of population increase and the need for intensification of labor on the part of the farmers, were presumably on the production (Kirch 2010; Spriggs 2011). fringes of the largest riverine basins like the Pearl, Red, and Another factor that would have inhibited the export of Mekong (Proske et al. 2010). Island Southeast has only full-scale intensive wet rice agriculture was the nature of small riverine basins, and many regions outside Java and the early Holocene coastal terrain of East Asia, following Bali had very poor potential for wet rice production owing the very dramatic postglacial rise of sea level. This to unfavorable equatorial climates, soils, and terrain (Pelzer transformed the eastern coastline of China from a coastal 1948; Geertz 1963; Spencer 1966). If wet rice production plain up to 700 km wide into an archipelago (Nakamura was involved in farming expansions out of central China, it 2010, see Fig. 1). Modern sea level was reached generally was surely at a very basic level without major investment in by about 5,000 BC, but in areas of shallow continental wet field infrastructure. shelf, such as Sundaland (western Indonesia) and the eastern coastline of China, isostatic loading by the weight of sea water would have caused crustal sinking to continue Early rice and the linguistic record until well after this dated. Proske et al. (2010) dates the highest sea level (+2.5 m) to between 4,000 and 3,000 BC The major language families of Southeast Asia (Austrone- in what is today the Mekong Delta, and Sathiamurthy and sian, Austroasiatic, Tai, Hmong-Mien, and Sino-Tibetan) all Voris (2006) recognize a +5-m-high stand for this area as have reconstructable proto-vocabularies that suggest an recently as 2,200 BC. This means that rice cultivation was early and deep acquaintance with rice and its exploitation spreading southwards from central China at a time when the (Zorc 1994; Sagart 2003; Ferlus 2010; Ratliff 2010; Wolff coastlines were maximally flooded by the Holocene sea 2010; Diffloth 2011). In the Austronesian case, this could level rise, and any perennial freshwater swamps beyond the imply, on linguistic grounds, a familiarity with both wet range of tidal influence would have been of very limited and dry rice as well as with transplantation techniques extent. In the more fortunate situation of the Yangzi Delta, (Sagart 2003). Sagart also favors a dual origin for rice many of the early sites with rice appear to have been vocabularies, one within Austroasiatic and another within sheltered behind a series of chenier ridges that formed Tai and Austronesian. Allowing that rice cultivation was inland from Shanghai (Zong et al. 2007, Fig. 1; Zheng et al. first developed in a generalized Yangzi source region, this 2009). But such favorable circumstances are unlikely to could suggest a dual expansion of rice vocabulary, on the have been available along the more exposed coastlines of one hand involving coastal China from southern Shandong China, south of Hangzhou Bay. southwards to Hainan and Taiwan [Austronesian and Tai, Thus, Rolett et al. (2011) note that the Neolithic site of with (Sagart 2005a, 2008) suggested links to Sino-Tibetan] Tanshishan, in Fujian Province, now 75 km inland near and on the other hand an inland riverine Austroasiatic Fuzhou city was located between 3,000 and 2,300 BC on dispersal (Sidwell 2010). an island in the inner and then estuarine Fuzhou Basin. No The heavily overlain distribution of the Austroasiatic good deltaic land was available for wet rice agriculture, and language family means that it no longer has a precisely the excavators think that the Tanshishan economy was still reconstructable homeland, but Diffloth (2005) suggests close basically without reliance on rice. I have noted a similar to the Bay of Bengal, while Sidwell (2010) favors a Mekong situation for the coastline and rivers of Ilocos Norte in the Basin origin. Has evidence for a now invisible Yangzi northern Philippines (Bellwood et al. 2008); the Holocene homeland for Austroasiatic been erased by Sinitic language sea level rise here drowned narrow incised valleys that were expansion? Or was Austroasiatic dispersal a result of a cut down to the last glacial maximum coastline over steep domino effect, with populations of ultimate Yangzi origin coastal terrain (the Philippines do not lie on a continental introducing rice cultivation to a Southeast Asian (early Rice (2011) 4:93–103 97 Austroasiatic) linguistic population located outside the exploitation (deforestation?) that these islands were actu- Yangzi Basin, which then expanded further in its own right? ally abandoned for agriculture for about 2000 years after The archaeological record can never prove or disprove 1500 BC. It is thus most interesting that the movement of linguistic homeland and migration hypotheses such as Neolithic populations from Taiwan into the northern these, but it can render some more likely than others. For Philippines can now be dated with considerable confi- instance, Zhang and Hung (2010) use purely archaeological dence to about 2,000 BC (Bellwood and Dizon 2005, evidence to suggest expansions of rice cultivation from the 2008;Hung 2005), thus at or just after a time when both Yangzi basin via two routes like those just derived from the the Taiwan and Penghu sequences reveal very high linguistic evidence: one coastal from Zhejiang down to population densities. A contemporary movement of Tai- Fujian and Taiwan, and the other by inland valleys from the speaking populations along the lines suggested by Sagart middle Yangzi to Guangxi and the SE Asian mainland. The is therefore not impossible on demographic grounds, even two streams perhaps met, and mixed, in Guangdong. Such if archaeological evidence for or against it is currently observations could make a central or southern Chinese lacking. origin for rice vocabularies rather likely. Sagart’s(2005b) suggestion of a Taiwan or northern Philippine origin for the Tai language family, as a cousinly Early rice and the archaeological record subgroup to Malayo-Polynesian, is difficult to assess archaeologically because of the relative lack of Neolithic The archaeological chronology of development and outflow information from the key Chinese provinces of Hainan, of Neolithic lifestyles in the eastern Asian region can be Guangdong, and Guangxi. Evidence for rice cultivation summarized as follows (Bellwood 2005: chapters 6, 7, and only reached these regions, like Taiwan, around 3,000 BC, 10; Zhang and Hung 2008, 2010; Fuller et al. 2010; possibly not until 2,000 BC in the case of northern Vietnam Bellwood et al. 2011b): (Zhang and Hung 2010). Early Neolithic links in artifact 1. 8,000–6,000 BC: Development of predomestication assemblages between Taiwan and the Pearl Delta region of cereal agriculture in central China, with japonica rice Guangdong have been suggested (e.g., by Tsang 2005: 71), in the Yangzi, Han, Huai, and lower Yellow river but the archaeological record at this stage is too thin to basins, and mostly foxtail and broomcorn millets to the allow any real testing of Sagart’s hypothesis for Tai. west and north. Indica rice was domesticated in South However, there is good evidence for considerable Asia much later and played no role in the East Asian population growth in Taiwan from the Early Neolithic Neolithic. (3,500 BC) onwards to the Middle Neolithic at about 2,000 2. 6,000–3,500 BC: Gradual spread of Neolithic lifestyles BC. Liu (2007: 55) records, for the Danshui River near through southern China, accompanied by an increasing Taipei, an increase in settlement numbers from 3 in the predominance, especially after 4,000 BC of fully early Dabenkeng (earliest Neolithic) phase to more than 20 domesticated (nonshattering) rice in the middle Dabenkeng, then to more than 50 in the 3. 3,500 BC: Neolithic settlement of Taiwan (Dabenkeng following Middle Neolithic Shuntanpu phase at c.2,000 culture), presumably following developments in Fujian BC. He notes also that Middle Neolithic sites elsewhere in and/or Guangdong (Jiao 2007; Tsang 2005) Taiwan can be up to 20 to 30 times larger than Dabenkeng 4. 3,000–2,000 BC: Neolithic settlement of mainland sites (e.g., 60 ha for Niuchouzi). For eastern Taiwan, Hung Southeast Asia from Guangdong and Guangxi into (2005) documents only five Dabenkeng sites dating from northern Vietnam, and possibly down the Mekong river c.3,500 to 2,500 BC, then 43 Middle Neolithic sites dating (or down the Southeast Asian coastline) into southern between 2,500 and 1,500 BC. So the period from 3,500 to Vietnam and Thailand (Higham 2004; Oxenham et al. 2,000 BC was clearly one of considerable population 2011; Bellwood et al. 2011a) growth throughout the island. 5. 2,000–1,500 BC: Neolithic settlement of the Philip- Likewise, for the sandy and windswept Penghu pines and central Indonesia, via Taiwan, and of the Islands in Taiwan Strait, Tsang (1992:60–62) records a Mariana Islands from the northern Philippines (Bell- total of only four Dabenkeng sites but 32 Middle Neolithic wood and Hiscock 2009; Hung et al. 2011) sites (c.2,500–2,000 BC). However, there was then a sharp In my book First Farmers (Bellwood 2005), these decline to only four sites dated to the interval 2,000–1,500 Neolithic spreads are related mainly to the establishments BC, after which these islands appear to lack subsequent of the Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, and Austronesian occupation until the Chinese historical period, within the language families, with the movements of Tai, Tibeto- past 1,000 years. There is a possibility here that coloni- Burman, and Hmong-Mien speakers being mainly post- zation by a Neolithic rice growing population led to such Neolithic. For the Chinese Neolithic heartland itself, high levels of population growth and environmental over- 98 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 especially along the Yellow River, we can read continuity Into a friction zone (Bellwood 2001: 189) of cultural development from Neolithic times into the Sinitic-speaking Chinese Bronze Age culture of the Moving eastwards beyond Borneo and Bali into Wallacea, Shang Dynasty. For Austroasiatic, Higham (2004)and we find that rice faded rapidly in importance prior to 1950 Rispoli (2007) equate the Neolithic movement through and never penetrated into or beyond New Guinea at all mainland Southeast Asia with the spread of rice cultiva- (Spencer 1966, Figs. 4 and 5). I have discussed this issue tion and incised/stamped pottery from southern China many times (Bellwood 1980, 1985, 1997, 2011) and refer (including Yunnan) into Vietnam, Thailand, Indochina, here mainly to the discussion published in my Prehistory of and Peninsular Malaysia after 2,500/2,000 BC. Offshore, the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago. In both editions of that the spread of Austronesian languages with Neolithic book, I suggested that rice faded owing to the inherent population movements from Taiwan to the Philippines unsuitability of the equatorial environment for its cultiva- and Indonesia is also now well documented archaeolog- tion (mainly after Spencer 1966), and that early Austro- ically for the period between 2,000 and 1,500 BC nesians were not entirely a population of avid rice (Bellwood and Dizon 2005, 2008;Bellwood 2011;Bell- cultivators but also contained subpopulations with maritime wood et al. 2011b). However, in tropical Island Southeast or foraging adaptations (as suggested by Sather 1995). Asia beyond Taiwan, a large number of native fruits and They would have been precisely the kind of people we tubers were also incorporated into the economic reper- might expect to sail away by boat, probably without rice, to toire, and rice and millet probably faded in significance as exploit the resources of new islands. Dewar (2003) has populations approached equatorial latitudes (Bellwood since developed the climatic argument in terms of an 1997). increasing unreliability of rainfall, inhibiting rice cultivation The prehistory of rice cultivation in Island Southeast as one moves east through Island Southeast Asia towards Asia is particularly obscure, no doubt in part due to a eastern Melanesia. Neither Dewar nor I see evidence for a simple lack of specialized archaeobotanical research (Cas- sometimes claimed early pre-rice phase of tuber and fruit tillo and Fuller 2010). For instance, remains of rice and cultivation in China or most of Southeast Asia, until one millet were universally absent from sites of the Dabenkeng approaches the acknowledged and independent focus of phase in Taiwan (3,500–2,500 BC) until both were found in fruit and tuber domestication in the New Guinea Highlands. unprecedented carbonized quantities dating to c.2,800 BC, It is possible that this spread into adjacent Melanesian in hitherto unique waterlogged conditions, in the Nanguanli lowland regions, including parts of eastern Indonesia sites in the Tainan Science-Based Industrial Park (Tsang (Donohue and Denham 2010; Lentfer et al. 2010), but the 2005; Tsang et al. 2004). In fact, the list of sites in Island evidence for this is at present rather limited. Southeast Asia in which evidence for rice has been found, Was an unsupportive environment the main reason for particularly as a result of careful analysis of pottery or the nonspread of rice eastwards? Rice undoubtedly found phytoliths, is rapidly increasing, especially in circumstances very supportive climatic and soil conditions in some where carbonized macro-remains are absent. Numerous nonequatorial islands south of the equator, such as Java occurrences are now reported from Taiwan and Borneo and Bali, and it must have crossed the equator to reach (Bellwood 2011; Hsieh et al. this issue). them, suggesting that varieties that were insensitive to day In addition, where morphological or genetic analysis length variation were selected for quite early on in the has been carried out on carbonized rice grains from Austronesian migration process. Indeed, there is no obvious Southeast Asian sites that are more than 2,000 years reason why rice should have disappeared altogether on old, available results all suggest the presence of approaching New Guinea. After all, many Pacific Island japonica but not yet indica, hence supporting a model of populations developed very intensive methods of wet field Neolithic expansion southwards from China. Castillo (this cultivation for aroids, and the New Guinea Highlands had a issue) presents this conclusion for late Neolithic and very long tradition of draining and managing swamps for Bronze Age Thailand, as do Hsieh et al. for Nanguanli the cultivation of Colocasia taro, so it is hard to imagine in Taiwan. Katsunori Tanaka (in Bellwood et al. 2011a) that the environment was totally to blame. If early speakers has presented chloroplast DNA evidence that the rice chaff of Malayo-Polynesian (Extra-Formosan Austronesian) lan- temper in pottery from Neolithic An Son in southern guages regarded rice highly, they would surely have tried to Vietnam (2,000–1,200 BC) was also from japonica rice. carry it with them on their migrations eastwards into some Indica rice does not make an appearance in Southeast Asia of the larger and better watered Pacific islands. until about 2,000 years ago, contemporary with the However, rice might have held little value for the beginnings of contact with India. indigenous non-Austronesian populations of eastern Indo- But one problem remains. Why was rice not carried by nesia and Melanesia (including New Guinea), especially in migrating Austronesians into and across Oceania? competition with tuber and fruit horticulture using vegeta- Rice (2011) 4:93–103 99 tive methods of planting. As Pelzer (1948: 7) once noted: acquired this status by virtue of not sharing any of the “…a plant, the introduction of which involves a change in defining innovations of Proto-Oceanic. It might be methods of cultivation, [will only be] accepted under more accurate to state merely that Chamorro is not an pressure.” New Guineans did not have grain crops, and Oceanic language, without implying any particular relied on tubers and plants such as bananas and sugar cane subgrouping status for it, although its likely origin in that were planted vegetatively. Also, while mid-Holocene the Philippines is well supported by comparative New Guineans did indeed manage water levels for raised linguistics (Blust 2000; Reid 2002). bed and drained fields in swamps, they did not use the 3. New Guinea itself appears to have played no direct role bunded wet field methods typical for wet taro in eastern in the transmission eastwards of Malayo-Polynesian Island Melanesia and Polynesia. So, a nonadoption of rice languages, and the establishment of them in much of by non-Austronesians is perhaps to be expected. But its Papua New Guinea was very marginal and late in time, failure to travel with Malayo-Polynesian-speaking popula- possibly within the past 2,500 years (Ross 1988; tions into other uninhabited regions of Oceania still remains Pawley 2002). Proto-Oceanic itself has generally been surprising, given the suitability of many Oceanic islands for located by linguists in the Bismarck Archipelago, not in wet taro production. New Guinea itself, neither does New Guinea have I think the answer here may be a historical one, significant early Lapita sites. The island itself appears involving the precise directionality of ancient Malayo- not to have been involved in any early spread of Polynesian colonization into Oceania. For many years, it Southeast Asian Neolithic artifact categories from has been assumed (including by me) that this emanated Indonesia into Oceania. from eastern Indonesia at about 1,350 BC, most likely from 4. Indeed, as the initial Neolithic culture of Oceania, Halmahera, and reached the Bismarck Archipelago by Lapita had no visible origin in the eastern Indonesian skirting the northern coastline of New Guinea, in the guise Neolithic at all. Perhaps, like the Talasea (New Britain) of the Lapita culture of archaeologists (e.g., Bellwood obsidian excavated from layers dated to c.1,000 BC in 1997). But there is no strong evidence for this scenario, and the rock shelter of Bukit Tengkorak in Sabah (Bell- there are a number of points against it: wood 1997), the very few pottery finds in Indonesia with decoration that resembles late Lapita represent an 1. There is no secure linguistic evidence for deriving east to west movement from the Bismarcks, rather than Proto-Oceanic specifically from south Halmahera or vice versa. west New Guinea, except for Robert Blust’s (e.g., 2009) placement of the Oceanic and south Halmahera/ On the other hand, the “Pacific” mtDNA clade of pigs west New Guinea subgroups of Malayo-Polynesian associated with Lapita dispersal originated on the northern within a greater Eastern Malayo-Polynesian subgroup. mainland of Southeast Asia or southern China, and did not But south Halmahera/West New Guinea is only weakly apparently travel into Oceania via Taiwan or the Philippines defined by shared innovations, and equally likely is a (Larson et al. 2010). So this might have traveled via concept of an initial and rapid radiation over a very Indonesia. But this need not imply an Indonesian origin for large area of a series of dialects of Proto-Malayo- the Lapita population, or its pots, or its Proto-Oceanic Polynesian, mostly still intercomprehensible owing to language because pigs could easily have been transmitted the short time of differentiation, at the beginning of the as commodities via exchange back along the same route Island Southeast Asian Neolithic (c.2,000-1,500 BC). that brought the Talasea obsidian in the other direction to The formation of the extant subgroups of Malayo- Borneo. There is no reason why a species or lineage of Polynesian would then have postdated this phase. domesticated animal needs travel as part of a significant Under such circumstances, the genesis of Proto- human migration; dingoes (dogs) reached Australia in Oceanic in the Bismarck or Admiralty Islands could prehistoric times with no trace of any human migration at have drawn on early and undifferentiated Malayo- all. Polynesian linguistic resources from anywhere in Island To explain the lack of Lapita connections in eastern Southeast Asia, both Philippines and Indonesia (and not Indonesia, it has recently been proposed that the initial just Halmahera or west New Guinea), as well as taking movement of Malayo-Polynesian speakers into Oceania on indigenous Papuan loans in Melanesia (Donohue went from the northern Philippines eastwards to the and Denham 2010). Mariana Islands, then down from there southwards into 2. Likewise, Chamorro is normally classified as a Western the Bismarcks (Hung et al. 2011; Bellwood 2011). Later, Malayo-Polynesian language today, but given the lack but prior to any significant differentiation of Proto-Oceanic, of any complete internal subgrouping for the Western movement continued back around the north side of New Malayo-Polynesian languages, it is likely that it has Guinea into eastern Indonesia. This movement carried the 100 Rice (2011) 4:93–103 distinctive zonal elements of Lapita red-slipped pottery opposite direction, from the Bismarcks to Indonesia. decoration from Luzon via the Marianas into the Bis- Malayo-Polynesian migration in the western Pacific was marcks, but the huge open sea distances involved thereby a massive clockwise circle rather than a one-way (c.2,300 km on both legs) meant that neither rice nor pigs arrow that always headed east. survived the voyages. There is no dry land between Luzon and Guam, and 3,500 years ago, the Micronesian atolls Conclusions were not yet emergent (Dickinson 2003). So the distances of unbroken ocean that had to be crossed were immense, as In my Prehistory of the Indo-Malaysian Archipelago no doubt were the difficulties of keeping alive stocks of rice, pigs, and dogs during voyages in small canoes with (Bellwood 1985, 1997: 249–254), I suggested three little weather or sea spray protection. It is worth adding that successive phases for the prehistory of rice cultivation in southern China and Southeast Asia. The first, from southern the specific style of pottery referred to above as linking Luzon, the Marianas, and Lapita has never been found in China to Taiwan and the northern Philippines, involved both localized swamp cultivation and dry land shifting Yap or Palau, both subjected to intensive archaeological survey in recent years. cultivation. The second involved mostly shifting cultivation as Austronesian-speaking populations moved through the Pigs and dogs are not reported at all from Marianas prehistory, although a limited amount of rice growing was Philippines into the equatorial zone and towards eastern Indonesia, and also a gradual demise of rice in the face of attested there in the seventeenth century, albeit not recorded by Antonio Pigafetta in 1521 (Nowell 1962: 130–131). the indigenous tubers and fruits that were more suited to perhumid and equatorial environmental conditions. The Blust (2000: 109) suggests that Chamorro has inherited third phase saw the establishment of wet rice cultivation rice-associated vocabulary directly from Proto-Austronesian and that rice must have been taken there in prehistory. after 500 BC in regions of high population growth such as Java and Bali, especially in fertile volcanic landscapes Perhaps so, but there is as yet no archaeological evidence for its presence in the Marianas, and even if it did reach the where terracing could be constructed. Wet rice did not always require a state-level organization, as we can see Marianas, it is unlikely to have traveled successfully onwards to the Bismarcks by that route. This probably from the Mountain Province (Ifugao) terraces in northern Luzon. But my suspicion is that it required both good means that the founders of Proto-Oceanic arrived in the Bismarcks from the Marianas with linguistic resources sources of irrigation water and an increasing population, no doubt operating in a mutualistic relationship akin to Geertz’ very close to Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, but without pigs and rice. The pigs came rapidly later from Indonesia, (1963) concept of agricultural involution. This outline still seems acceptable to me, but now, we the rice never. understand much better the earlier archaeological sequence Rice, therefore, was not taken into Oceania for two reasons: towards rice domestication in China. The core develop- mental sequence in the Yangzi Basin and adjacent areas, 1. The initial Malayo-Polynesian migration from the from wild rice management to intensive wet field construc- Philippines, via the Marianas, to the Bismarcks took tion, occupied the millennia from about 7,000 to 4,000 BC. place under circumstances too difficult for viable rice By the time that rice cultivation was spreading into regions seed stock to get through, and the same applies to pigs such as Vietnam and Taiwan (c.3,000 to 2,000 BC), the and presumably to all other domesticated animals via inner part of the Yangzi Basin had become locked into a that particular route. cycle of wet rice intensification and geographic inertia that 2. The movement of rice southeastwards through Indonesia would have slowed down any inclination for migration on eventually ceased owing to the presence of a resistant the part of the core populations themselves, unless adverse environmental conditions altered the situation drastically. Papuan-speaking population, still dominant today in New Guinea, that had no interest in its adoption as a viable There is indeed some evidence that stress factors might have afflicted lower Yangzi populations during the Maqiao crop. The density and food-producing status of this indigenous population brought the Malayo-Polynesian phase between 1,900 and 1,200 BC (Chen et al. 2005), but migration to a linguistic and genetic standstill in the this seems a little late in time as an explanation for rice southeastern corner of Indonesia (Lansing et al. 2011; expansion, given that rice farmers had already been in Cox et al. 2010; Karafet et al. 2010). There is really no Taiwan for about a millennium beforehand. clear evidence at all for any migration of Malayo- Regardless of whether or not serious mid-Holocene Polynesian-speaking populations from west to east in the climatic change actually occurred in the Yangzi Basin, the vicinity of New Guinea, neither to its north nor to its situation of increasing social complexity would have south, and it is suggested here that they moved in the brought peripheral populations into more frequent domino Rice (2011) 4:93–103 101 matching archaeology, linguistics and genetics. London: relationships with the core groups, magnified no doubt if Routledge; 2008. p. 23–39. that core was suffering from periodic climatic downturns or Bellwood P, Hiscock P. Holocene Australia and the Pacific Basin. In: marine transgressions. Peripheral populations who adopted Scarre C, editor. The human past. 2nd ed. London: Thames and cultivation of a rice plant that had already been domesti- Hudson; 2009. p. 264–305. 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