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Ecology and hydrology of early rice farming: geoarchaeological and palaeo-ecological evidence from the Late Holocene paddy field site at Maoshan, the Lower Yangtze

Jin, Y; Mo, D; Li, Y; Ding, P; Zong, Y; Zhuang, Y; (2018) Ecology and hydrology of early rice farming: geoarchaeological and palaeo-ecological evidence from the Late Holocene paddy field site at Maoshan, the Lower Yangtze. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 10.1007/s12520-018-0639-1. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The well-preserved Maoshan paddy fields (4700–4300 bp) were built on an intermediate landscape between the foothills and alluvial plain of the Lower Yangtze River. Despite several interdisciplinary research, there has been a lack of detailed environmental and ecological data to contextualise the reconstructed rice farming practices within a wider paleo-environmental background. Our research provides key information on the chronology, vegetation, and long-term hydrological fluctuations at and surrounding the paddy fields. Our 14C and OSL dates show that the initial occupation began at around 5740 ± 140 cal. bp, and the paddy fields were built at around 4675 ± 145 cal. bp and were in use continuously until around 4000 cal. bp. Our pollen, diatom and phytolith data shows that whilst the vegetation in the field was sensitive to changes caused by water management and rice farming, the ecological system surrounding the fields was relatively stable. We suggest that this high frequency of in-field vegetation changes was closely related to intensifying water management for rice farming. This thesis is supported by our geophysical and geochemical analyses of bulk sediments, which shows that the steady build-up of the alluvial sequence was punctuated by several short-term episodes of high-energy surface runoff, including strong flushing in of sandy sediments into the fields perhaps through irrigation activities. Our paleo-ecological and geoarchaeological investigation at Maoshan permits an overview of the development of rice farming and intensifying water management practices in a wider environmental context and offers significant insights to the ongoing debate on the wet-dry dichotomy of early rice farming.

Type: Article
Title: Ecology and hydrology of early rice farming: geoarchaeological and palaeo-ecological evidence from the Late Holocene paddy field site at Maoshan, the Lower Yangtze
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12520-018-0639-1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-018-0639-1
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Paddy fields, Liangzhu culture, Lower Yangtze River, Hydrology, Ecology
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10047762
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