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Article: Holocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A review

TitleHolocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A review
Authors
KeywordsChina
Coastal Wetlands
Environmental Change
Holocene
Neolithic Agriculture
Pollen
Issue Date2012
PublisherSage Publications Ltd. The Journal's web site is located at http://hol.sagepub.com
Citation
Holocene, 2012, v. 22 n. 6, p. 623-635 How to Cite?
AbstractIn this paper, we summarize the Holocene environmental history of the lower Yangtze region, east China, based on the sedimentary records and microfossil diatom, pollen, fungal and charcoal data that were published in the past two decades. We then examine the linkage between changes in the coastal environment and the development of rice agriculture in the region, with reference to the available archaeological evidence and historical archives. Based on the sedimentary and archaeological evidence, we conclude that during the early Holocene sea-level movements and sedimentary processes significantly changed the region's landscape from an open, brackish water environment to a largely enclosed, wetland system. This newly established freshwater marsh environment provided a habitat favourable to rice agriculture. The early Neolithic farmers took the opportunity presented to them and started rice cultivation in locations where freshwater wetland systems were established. During the middle Holocene, environmental conditions were largely stable, and the coastal wetlands evolved slowly. Environmental change was only a supportive player in the Neolithic cultural processes, because the Neolithic people were able to adapt to these changes and took advantages of the newly emerging marsh land for food collection and production. Around 4200 years ago, the prosperous Liangzhu society fell, but there is no evidence to suggest the fall was related to a significant environmental change. The coastal environment continued to evolve slowly during the late Holocene. But this period saw rapid technological development in irrigation and flood protection, and the environmental factor was reduced to background noise. Throughout the Holocene, the main strategy taken by the Neolithic people to cope with environmental change was migration to find better food sources. Along with this strategy was the development of technology in landscape management to ensure a more reliable food production in addition to food collection through hunting, gathering and fishing. © The Author(s) 2011.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/151379
ISSN
2014 Impact Factor: 2.283
ISI Accession Number ID
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Leverhulme Trust, UKF/000128/AL
Shanghai Metropolitan Government
Funding Information:

This research was supported financially by the Leverhulme Trust, UK, under grant F/000128/AL, and a Zijiang Visiting Professorship from the Shanghai Metropolitan Government awarded to Y Zong.

References

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorZong, Yen_US
dc.contributor.authorWang, Zen_US
dc.contributor.authorInnes, JBen_US
dc.contributor.authorChen, Zen_US
dc.date.accessioned2012-06-26T06:21:25Z-
dc.date.available2012-06-26T06:21:25Z-
dc.date.issued2012en_US
dc.identifier.citationHolocene, 2012, v. 22 n. 6, p. 623-635en_US
dc.identifier.issn0959-6836en_US
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/151379-
dc.description.abstractIn this paper, we summarize the Holocene environmental history of the lower Yangtze region, east China, based on the sedimentary records and microfossil diatom, pollen, fungal and charcoal data that were published in the past two decades. We then examine the linkage between changes in the coastal environment and the development of rice agriculture in the region, with reference to the available archaeological evidence and historical archives. Based on the sedimentary and archaeological evidence, we conclude that during the early Holocene sea-level movements and sedimentary processes significantly changed the region's landscape from an open, brackish water environment to a largely enclosed, wetland system. This newly established freshwater marsh environment provided a habitat favourable to rice agriculture. The early Neolithic farmers took the opportunity presented to them and started rice cultivation in locations where freshwater wetland systems were established. During the middle Holocene, environmental conditions were largely stable, and the coastal wetlands evolved slowly. Environmental change was only a supportive player in the Neolithic cultural processes, because the Neolithic people were able to adapt to these changes and took advantages of the newly emerging marsh land for food collection and production. Around 4200 years ago, the prosperous Liangzhu society fell, but there is no evidence to suggest the fall was related to a significant environmental change. The coastal environment continued to evolve slowly during the late Holocene. But this period saw rapid technological development in irrigation and flood protection, and the environmental factor was reduced to background noise. Throughout the Holocene, the main strategy taken by the Neolithic people to cope with environmental change was migration to find better food sources. Along with this strategy was the development of technology in landscape management to ensure a more reliable food production in addition to food collection through hunting, gathering and fishing. © The Author(s) 2011.en_US
dc.languageengen_US
dc.publisherSage Publications Ltd. The Journal's web site is located at http://hol.sagepub.comen_US
dc.relation.ispartofHoloceneen_US
dc.rightsThe Holocene. Copyright © Sage Publications Ltd.-
dc.subjectChinaen_US
dc.subjectCoastal Wetlandsen_US
dc.subjectEnvironmental Changeen_US
dc.subjectHoloceneen_US
dc.subjectNeolithic Agricultureen_US
dc.subjectPollenen_US
dc.titleHolocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A reviewen_US
dc.typeArticleen_US
dc.identifier.emailZong, Y:yqzong@hkucc.hku.hken_US
dc.identifier.authorityZong, Y=rp00846en_US
dc.description.naturelink_to_subscribed_fulltexten_US
dc.identifier.doi10.1177/0959683611409775en_US
dc.identifier.scopuseid_2-s2.0-84861797818en_US
dc.identifier.hkuros200203-
dc.relation.referenceshttp://www.scopus.com/mlt/select.url?eid=2-s2.0-84861797818&selection=ref&src=s&origin=recordpageen_US
dc.identifier.volume22en_US
dc.identifier.issue6en_US
dc.identifier.spage623en_US
dc.identifier.epage635en_US
dc.identifier.isiWOS:000304238500003-
dc.publisher.placeUnited Kingdomen_US
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridZong, Y=7005203454en_US
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridWang, Z=8888585200en_US
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridInnes, JB=7102004815en_US
dc.identifier.scopusauthoridChen, Z=35209923100en_US

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