The spread of agriculture in eastern Asia

Archaeological bases for hypothetical farmer/language dispersals

in Language Dynamics and Change
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Millets and rice were important for the demographic history of China. This review draws on current archaeobotanical evidence for rice and millets across China, Korea, eastern Russia, Taiwan, Mainland southeast Asia, and Japan, taking a critical approach to dating evidence, evidence for cultivation, and morphological domestication. There is no evidence to suggest that millets and rice were domesticated simultaneously within a single region. Instead, 5 regions of north China are candidates for independent early cultivation of millets that led to domestication, and 3 regions of the Yangtze basin are candidates for separate rice domestication trajectories. The integration of rice and millet into a single agricultural system took place ca. 4000 BC, and after this the spread of agricultural systems and population growth are in evidence. The most striking evidence for agricultural dispersal and population growth took place between 3000 and 2500 BC, which has implications for major language dispersals.

The spread of agriculture in eastern Asia

Archaeological bases for hypothetical farmer/language dispersals

in Language Dynamics and Change

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    Figure 1

    Distribution of early sites with archaeobotanical finds of millet and/or rice with median ages between 8000 and 4500 BC. Morphologically wild and domesticated rice differentiated. Regional cultures indicated: A. Peiligang, B. Cishan, C. Houli, D. Xinglongwa, E. Dadiwan, F. Lower Yangtze Neolithic, G. Upper Huai/ Han Neolithic, H. Middle Yangtze Neolithic.

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    Figure 2

    Illustration of episodes of evolution of domestication in Lower Yangtze rice, including percentage of non-shattering (top) and grain width (bottom)after Fuller, 2014

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    Figure 3

    Distribution of sites with archaeobotanical finds of millet and/or rice with median ages between 4500 and 3000 BC. Selected sites with both millet and rice labelled: (1) Nanjiaokou; (2) Baligang; (3) Huitupo; (4) Chengtoushan.

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    Figure 4

    Distribution of sites with archaeobotanical finds of millet and/or rice with median ages between 3500 and 2000 BC. Selected sites labelled: (1) Baodun, (2) Qamdo Karuo, (3) Baiyangcun, (4) Haimenkou, (5) Dadunzi, (6) Shifodong, (7) Gantuoyan, (8) Wenjiatun, (9) Jitap-ri and Masan-ri, (10) Daechonri [problematic], (11) Oun and Sangchon B, (12) Kazahari, (13) Ryugasaki, (14) Nabatake (ca. 850 BC), (15) Khok Phanom Di, (16) Non Pa Wai.

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    Figure 5

    Proxies for demographic change: (A) deforestation trends estimated from regional pollen databases (after Ren, 2007); (B) total increase in recorded archaeological sites across north China (after Wagner et al., 2013); (C) regional site counts per century, geometric scale (Upper Yellow River data from Li et al., 2009; others from Wagner et al., 2013); (D) regional site counts per century, geometric scale (data from Li et al., 2009)

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