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Chen X.-L.,Chinese Academy of Sciences | Fang Y.-M.,Henan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics Zhengzhou | Hu Y.-W.,University of Chinese Academy of Sciences | Hou Y.-F.,Henan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics Zhengzhou | And 5 more authors.
International Journal of Osteoarchaeology

During the late Longshan period (ca. 4200-3900 BP) settlements on the Central Plains of China underwent a diversification in food production technologies, which set the stage for rapid economic and social development. The introduction of novel domesticates such as rice, wheat, cattle, and sheep not only provided more food choices, but also changed ideas concerning land use, farming techniques, and the use and mobilization of large scale labor forces. To better understand the contribution that these new dietary items and practices made to shaping the late Longshan period societies, a stable isotope ratio study of humans (n=12) and animals (n=42) was conducted at the late Longshan period site of Wadian. The human δ13C and δ15N values are clustered into two distinct groups. One group of nine individuals (δ13C=-9.9±0.7‰; δ15N=7.5±0.5‰) had a predominately C4 diet based on millet grains with little protein input from the domestic animals. The other group of three individuals (δ13C=-14.3±0.8‰; δ15N=10.2±0.3‰) had a mixed C3/C4 diet of millets and rice and were consuming sheep and cattle. The animals also displayed dietary diversity with the pigs (δ13C=-11.3±2.5‰; δ15N=6.9±1.0‰, n=10) and dogs (δ13C=-10.1±1.0‰; δ15N=7.2±1.1‰, n=7) having mostly a C4 plant based diet (millets). In contrast, the cattle (δ13C=-12.8±2.1‰; δ15N=7.6±0.7‰, n=9), sheep (δ13C=-16.7±0.9‰; δ15N=7.6±0.1‰, n=2), and cervids (δ13C=-20.8±0.9‰; δ15N=5.0±1.2‰, n=10) had diets with a greater contribution from C3 sources such as rice and wild plants. The discovery that humans and animals had different subsistence patterns indicates dietary complexity at Wadian and that rice agriculture, and cattle and sheep husbandry practices were already an important part of the local economy by the late Longshan period in the southern region of the Central Plains of China. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Source

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