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Shu J.-W.,CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology | Shu J.-W.,Kyoto Prefectural University | Wang W.-M.,CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology | Jiang L.-P.,Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics
Palaeoworld | Year: 2012

It remains debatable as to how the prehistoric human communities managed the environment to enable the initial cultivation of rice during the early Neolithic in the coastal lower reaches of the Yangtze River, East China. Previous studies proposed an environmental context for the first rice cultivation at Kuahuqiao, Hangzhou, based on an archaeological sedimentary microfossil record that had been well-dated using radiocarbon methods. Those studies suggested that early humans began burning the predominantly alder scrub in a local swampy wetland, starting about 7750. cal. yr BP, which permitted the start of dedicated rice (Oryza) cultivation. Here we present a new, finer-detailed pollen-phytolith-microscopic charcoal record from the same locality. Our result reveals that local woods dominated by oak (Quercus) and pine (Pinus) were targeted for burning by early cultivators before the start of rice agriculture. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, CAS. Source

Shu J.,CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology | Shu J.,Kyoto Prefectural University | Wang W.,CAS Nanjing Institute of Geology and Palaeontology | Jiang L.,Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics | Takahara H.,Kyoto Prefectural University
Quaternary International | Year: 2010

A new 2.6-m long archaeological sedimentary profile from Kuahuqiao, Zhejiang Province, was examined for pollen-phytolith-charcoal microfossil content. The results bring a new and improved insight into the previously established vegetation sequence, contributing to better understanding the interaction between vegetation, fire and human activity in the early Neolithic Lower Yangtze, discussed in the context of archaeological record and published available data. Three distinctive phases were well represented: the nature-dominated phase (c. 8250-7950. cal. BP), the human-affected phase (c. 7950-7400 cal. BP) and the marine-controlled phase (post-7400 cal. BP), considering vegetation changes, human impact, and environment dynamics. Around 8300. cal. BP, the mixed broadleaved evergreen and deciduous forest, mainly consisting of Quercus, Pinus, Cyclobalanopsis, Liquidambar, and Ulmus/Zelkova, developed at Kuahuqiao. It was initially opened by the early local Neolithic hunters and foragers by means of fire since c.7950. cal. BP, indicated by abundant microfossil charcoal in cultural layers. The disturbed forest in the lowlands progressively retreated and was predominately replaced by a Poaceae-dominated vegetation pattern, suggesting increasingly intensified human interference including rice cultivation since 7760. cal. BP. Quercus and Pinus were the main components among the woods targeted by humans in the local small basin, strongly supported by archaeological records as well. However, the short period of Alnus flourishing reported elsewhere is not documented in the pollen sequence. In addition, the combined pollen and archaeological evidence shows that the well recorded local spread of Typha around 7400. cal. BP could mainly be a natural response to the expansion of water regime in addition to the result of human management of the environment. The increasing water level was presumably induced by the local blocked hydrological ecosystem as a result of its retrogression prompted by rising sea level, before the Kuahuqiao Culture ended in the subsequent marine transgression. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. Source

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