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      Transitions in Productivity: Rice Intensification from Domestication to Urbanisation

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      Archaeology International

      UCL Press

      agriculture, archaeobotany, Neolithic, civilisation, China, Southeast Asia

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          Archaeobotanical research in East and Southeast Asia provides evidence for transitions between lower and higher productivity forms of rice. These shifts in productivity are argued to help explain patterns in the domestication process and the rise of urban societies in these regions. The domestication process, which is now documented as having taken a few millennia, and coming to an end between 6700 and 5900 bp, involved several well documented changes, all of which served to increase the yield of rice harvests by an estimated 366 per cent; this increase provides an in-built pull factor for domestication. Once domesticated, rice diversified into higher productivity, labour-demanding wet rice and lower-yield dry rice. While wet rice in the Lower Yangtze region of China provided a basis for increasing population density and social hierarchy, it was the development of less productive and less demanding dry rice that helped to propel the migrations of farmers and the spread of rice agriculture across South China and Southeast Asia. Later intensification in Southeast Asia, a shift back to wet rice, was a necessary factor for increasing hierarchy and urbanisation in regions such as Thailand.

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          Most cited references 70

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              Perspective: Genetic assimilation and a possible evolutionary paradox: can macroevolution sometimes be so fast as to pass us by?

              The idea of genetic assimilation, that environmentally induced phenotypes may become genetically fixed and no longer require the original environmental stimulus, has had varied success through time in evolutionary biology research. Proposed by Waddington in the 1940s, it became an area of active empirical research mostly thanks to the efforts of its inventor and his collaborators. It was then attacked as of minor importance during the "hardening" of the neo-Darwinian synthesis and was relegated to a secondary role for decades. Recently, several papers have appeared, mostly independently of each other, to explore the likelihood of genetic assimilation as a biological phenomenon and its potential importance to our understanding of evolution. In this article we briefly trace the history of the concept and then discuss theoretical models that have newly employed genetic assimilation in a variety of contexts. We propose a typical scenario of evolution of genetic assimilation via an intermediate stage of phenotypic plasticity and present potential examples of the same. We also discuss a conceptual map of current and future lines of research aimed at exploring the actual relevance of genetic assimilation for evolutionary biology.

                Author and article information

                Archaeology International
                UCL Press (UK )
                30 December 2020
                : 23
                : 1
                : 88-103
                1UCL Institute of Archaeology, UK
                Author notes
                Copyright © 2020, Dorian Q. Fuller

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, References: 53, Pages: 16
                Research Articles and Updates

                Archaeology, Cultural studies

                archaeobotany, Southeast Asia, agriculture, civilisation, Neolithic, China


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