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      Plants and people from the Early Neolithic to Shang periods in North China.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

      Agriculture, history, Archaeology, China, Crops, Agricultural, growth & development, Culture, History, Ancient, Humans, Plant Development, Seeds, Time Factors

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          Abstract

          An assemblage of charred plant remains collected from 26 sites in the Yiluo valley of North China as part of an archaeological survey spans the period from the sixth millennium to 1300 calibrated calendrical years (cal) B.C. The plant remains document a long sequence of crops, weeds, and other plants in the country. The results also demonstrate the effectiveness of sediment sampling as part of an archaeological survey. Ten accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dates on crop remains inform an assessment of the sequence of agricultural development in the region. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica subsp. italica) was grown during the Early Neolithic period and was the principal crop for at least four millennia. Broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) was significantly less important throughout the sequence. Rice (Oryza sativa) was introduced by 3000 cal B.C. but apparently was not an important local crop. Wheat became a significant crop between 1600 and 1300 cal B.C. The weed flora diversified through time and were dominated by annual grasses, some of which were probably fodder for domesticated animals. The North China farming tradition that emphasized dry crops (millets, wheat, and legumes) with some rice appears to have been established at the latest by the Early Shang (Erligang; 1600-1300 B.C.) period.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          17213316
          1764861
          10.1073/pnas.0609763104

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