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Article: Holocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A review
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TitleHolocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A review
 
AuthorsZong, Y2
Wang, Z3
Innes, JB1
Chen, Z3
 
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
 
CitationHolocene, 2012, v. 22 n. 6, p. 623-635 [How to Cite?]
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683611409775
 
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.
 
ISSN0959-6836
2013 Impact Factor: 3.794
 
DOIhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683611409775
 
ISI Accession Number IDWOS:000304238500003
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.

 
ReferencesReferences in Scopus
 
DC FieldValue
dc.contributor.authorZong, Y
 
dc.contributor.authorWang, Z
 
dc.contributor.authorInnes, JB
 
dc.contributor.authorChen, Z
 
dc.date.accessioned2012-06-26T06:21:25Z
 
dc.date.available2012-06-26T06:21:25Z
 
dc.date.issued2012
 
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.
 
dc.description.naturelink_to_subscribed_fulltext
 
dc.identifier.citationHolocene, 2012, v. 22 n. 6, p. 623-635 [How to Cite?]
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683611409775
 
dc.identifier.doihttp://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0959683611409775
 
dc.identifier.epage635
 
dc.identifier.hkuros200203
 
dc.identifier.isiWOS:000304238500003
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.

 
dc.identifier.issn0959-6836
2013 Impact Factor: 3.794
 
dc.identifier.issue6
 
dc.identifier.scopuseid_2-s2.0-84861797818
 
dc.identifier.spage623
 
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/151379
 
dc.identifier.volume22
 
dc.languageeng
 
dc.publisherSage Publications Ltd. The Journal's web site is located at http://hol.sagepub.com
 
dc.publisher.placeUnited Kingdom
 
dc.relation.ispartofHolocene
 
dc.relation.referencesReferences in Scopus
 
dc.rightsThe Holocene. Copyright © Sage Publications Ltd.
 
dc.subjectChina
 
dc.subjectCoastal Wetlands
 
dc.subjectEnvironmental Change
 
dc.subjectHolocene
 
dc.subjectNeolithic Agriculture
 
dc.subjectPollen
 
dc.titleHolocene environmental change and Neolithic rice agriculture in the lower Yangtze region of China: A review
 
dc.typeArticle
 
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Author Affiliations
  1. University of Durham
  2. The University of Hong Kong
  3. East China Normal University