Archaeologists in southern subtropical China have uncovered evidence for the first time that people living in Xincun 5,000 years ago may have practised agriculture -before the arrival of domesticated rice in the region.
Current archaeological thinking is that it was the advent of rice cultivation along the Lower Yangtze River that marked the beginning of agriculture in southern China.
Poor organic preservation in the study region, as in many others, means that traditional archaeobotany techniques are not possible.
Now, thanks to a new method of analysis on ancient grinding stones, the archaeologists have uncovered evidence that agriculture could predate the advent of rice in the region. Read more.
New results from the analysis of paddy grains found in the Porunthal graveyard archaeological site prove that writing systems in India were in existence in the 5th Century BC, predating the arrival of Asoka, according to history professor at the Pondicherry University and director of the excavation project at Porunthal K. Rajan.
Rice paddy samples that were contained in an engraved pot found inside one of the graves were found to be from 450 BC when analysed using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) by the Beta Analytic Lab, USA, he said, addressing a private gathering organised by the Manarkeni journal.
Earlier, paddy sample from another grave was dated at 490 BC, but many scholars were unwilling to accept evidence obtained from only one sample. The analysis of the second sample proved that Tamil-Brahmi writing existed in the 5th century BC and was not invented in the 3rd century BC as was previously believed by scholars, he said. This was also the first time anyone had discovered Tamil-Brahmi script along with rice in any archaeological site. Scholars were still debating on the exact letters that were written and its meaning, he said. Read more.
The 1960s marked a turning point for agriculture in Asia: that’s when plant breeders launched a “green revolution” in rice production, selecting variants of a single gene that boosted yields across the continent. A new study finds that prehistoric farmers were revolutionaries, too. They apparently harnessed that same gene when they first domesticated rice as early as 10,000 years ago.
The history of rice farming is very complex, but the basic facts are well established. All of today’s domesticated rice belongs to the species Oryza sativa, which descends from the wild ancestor Oryza rufipogon. O. sativa has two major subspecies, japonica (short-grain rice grown mostly in Japan) and indica (long-grain rice grown mostly in India, Southeast Asia, and southern China). Read more.
Prof. Michael Purugganan of New York University has co-authored a study that indicates that all of the world’s domesticated rice varieties may have originated from just a single place in China thousands of years ago.
Previously, it had been thought that domesticated rice may have come from India as well as China.
Using large-scale gene re-sequencing, Purugganan and a team of researchers traced the origins of domesticated rice as far back as 9,000 years ago to China’s Yangtze Valley, according to a May 2 press release from New York University.