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Craniometrical evidence for population admixture between Eastern and Western Eurasians in Bronze Age southwest Xinjiang - Springer

Craniometrical evidence for population admixture between Eastern and Western Eurasians in Bronze Age southwest Xinjiang - Springer | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Xinjiang, the most northwest provincial administrative area of China, was the area where the oriental people met the occidental. The populations in Xinjiang exhibit very high genetic diversity. Previous study revealed that the eastern Xinjiang populations of the Bronze Age were mixed by the Eastern and the Western Eurasians. However, few studies have been performed to reveal when the population admixture started and how far to the west it reached. In this paper, we studied 148 craniofacial traits of 18 skulls from the Bronze Age Liushui graveyard in Khotan (Keriya County) in the southwest of Xinjiang. Seventeen craniometrical parameters of the Khotan samples were then compared with those of other ancient samples from around Xinjiang using dendrogram cluster analysis, principal components analysis, and multidimensional scaling. The results indicated that population sample of Liushui graveyard was mixed by the Western and Eastern Eurasians with about 79% contribution from the east. Therefore, we demonstrated that population admixture between east and west Eurasia can be traced back to as early as 1000 BC in southwest Xinjiang.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

strikes me as a rather antiquated approach to skulls.

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Becka O'Sullivan's comment, February 17, 2013 9:02 AM
The sheer variability in craniofacial traits amongst independent populations makes analysis of this kind incredibly dubious, especially when predicting levels of genetic admixture. Otherwise, it doesn't add more to the methods used by Han Kangxin throughout the 80s and 90s to reach a similar conclusion.
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China's Terracotta Army: 3D

China's Terracotta Army: 3D | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The results of 3D modelling of China's Terracotta Army, undertaken by Institute staff and international colleagues, have recently been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The collaborative research project team, led by Andrew Bevan, Xiuzhen Janice Li andMarcos Martinón-Torres, have built 3D models of the terracotta warriors using a recent variant on photogrammetry probably best termed 'Structure-from-Motion' or SfM. SfM models are made in several steps, involving photo-capture, image-masking, camera alignment and point-cloud construction. The key to making the technique work well is to achieve considerable overlap between photographs as this allows software to identify shared features visible in multiple images (the 'motion' of moving from one camera perspective to another)

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PLOS ONE: Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution

PLOS ONE: Dynamics of Green Sahara Periods and Their Role in Hominin Evolution | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Astronomically forced insolation changes have driven monsoon dynamics and recurrent humid episodes in North Africa, resulting in green Sahara Periods (GSPs) with savannah expansion throughout most of the desert. Despite their potential for expanding the area of prime hominin habitats and favouring out-of-Africa dispersals, GSPs have not been incorporated into the narrative of hominin evolution due to poor knowledge of their timing, dynamics and landscape composition at evolutionary timescales. We present a compilation of continental and marine paleoenvironmental records from within and around North Africa, which enables identification of over 230 GSPs within the last 8 million years. By combining the main climatological determinants of woody cover in tropical Africa with paleoenvironmental and paleoclimatic data for representative (Holocene and Eemian) GSPs, we estimate precipitation regimes and habitat distributions during GSPs. Their chronology is consistent with the ages of Saharan archeological and fossil hominin sites. Each GSP took 2–3 kyr to develop, peaked over 4–8 kyr, biogeographically connected the African tropics to African and Eurasian mid latitudes, and ended within 2–3 kyr, which resulted in rapid habitat fragmentation. We argue that the well-dated succession of GSPs presented here may have played an important role in migration and evolution of hominins

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This study documents "Green Sahara   Periods" through thhe Pleistocene-Pliocene-Miocene, whicb it argued played in a role in in human evolution. These period are the precursors of the Early Holocene green sahara that supported the first ceramic-making grain gatherers in Africa and the early spread of pastoralism. 

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Research Integrity in China

China's research capacity has grown dramatically in the past decade, an expansion that is reshaping the landscape of global scientific investigation. This rapid growth has not necessarily been accompanied by an equally measured promotion of the cultural norms of the scientific enterprise. Most troubling is a lack of research integrity, which may hinder China's growth in original science, damage the reputation of Chinese academics, and dampen the impact of science developed in China.

 

An unhealthy research environment in China is being driven by several factors. In many research-intensive universities and institutions, competitive research grants constitute oversized fractions of their budgets, providing an economic incentive for ethical violations. Misconduct is also inadvertently encouraged by the use of quantitative rather than qualitative measures of merit, which can lure young scientists to climb the academic ladder by stepping outside ethical boundaries. Performance-based subsidiary income is a policy that can entice scientists to act unethically. And there is a talent hierarchy in academia that encourages scientists to overblow their findings

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Some sobering observations, see also the article in the same Science issue on publication bazaaar of articles for purchase (i.e. pay to buy a new indexed sicentific artcile to add to your CV).  My sense is there is certainly less of this in archaeology, as one canot fake a dig, but there is a pandering for headlines and recognition (as earliest, biggest, best) which may sometimes undermine careful research.

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Morphological and genetic evidence for early Holocene cattle management in northeastern China : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

Morphological and genetic evidence for early Holocene cattle management in northeastern China : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The domestication of cattle is generally accepted to have taken place in two independent centres: around 10,500 years ago in the Near East, giving rise to modern taurine cattle, and two millennia later in southern Asia, giving rise to zebu cattle. Here we provide firmly dated morphological and genetic evidence for early Holocene management of taurine cattle in northeastern China. We describe conjoining mandibles from this region that show evidence of oral stereotypy, dated to the early Holocene by two independent 14C dates. Using Illumina high-throughput sequencing coupled with DNA hybridization capture, we characterize 15,406 bp of the mitogenome with on average 16.7-fold coverage. Phylogenetic analyses reveal a hitherto unknown mitochondrial haplogroup that falls outside the known taurine diversity. Our data suggest that the first attempts to manage cattle in northern China predate the introduction of domestic cattle that gave rise to the current stock by several thousand years.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Tantailizing results that could indicate some deadend lineage of early cattle management among the hunter-gatherers of the easternmost steppe before millet cultivation. Another case study in the multi-centric fits-and-starts views of domestication?

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AJHG - Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India

AJHG - Genetic Evidence for Recent Population Mixture in India | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Most Indian groups descend from a mixture of two genetically divergent populations: Ancestral North Indians (ANI) related to Central Asians, Middle Easterners, Caucasians, and Europeans; and Ancestral South Indians (ASI) not closely related to groups outside the subcontinent. The date of mixture is unknown but has implications for understanding Indian history. We report genome-wide data from 73 groups from the Indian subcontinent and analyze linkage disequilibrium to estimate ANI-ASI mixture dates ranging from about 1,900 to 4,200 years ago. In a subset of groups, 100% of the mixture is consistent with having occurred during this period. These results show that India experienced a demographic transformation several thousand years ago, from a region in which major population mixture was common to one in which mixture even between closely related groups became rare because of a shift to endogamy.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This appears quite reasonable in terms of dates and two major demographic foci. Where I suspect it will lead to confusion is that the early North Indian population would not have been Indo-European speaking, but would have spoken languages from probably 2 extinct language families (sometime grouped together as “Language X”. The residual (substrate) vocabulary in Sanskrit, etc., which is not Indo-European include two groups in phonological terms (one of which has Southeast Asian like affinities). In the vocabularies of these pre-Sanskrit languages one find the vocabulary of native trees and crops as well as introduced Near Eastern crops, and interesting a bunch of terminology relating to music and dance. The Harappan language is most likely from one of these as well. IE then is best understood as something to rose to prominence as a lingua franca later. The key linguists who have written on this include Masica (1979); WItzel and Southworth. I have drawn some botanical related conclusions and tables out in a couple of papers.

 

The one potential monkey wrench in the remoteness of South Indian population and Dravidian speakers—although I tend to support this view—is the continuing discussion of potential links between Proto-Dravidian and ancient Elamite. Southworth has recently come around to accepting this ide dn has started championing it (see his chapter for the Bellwood encyclopedia of human migration). As he has done really solid work on Indian languages, I think this has to carry some weight, although I have always sides in the past with those who reject Elamo-Dravidian. 

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raremare's comment, August 28, 2013 11:29 PM
Thats brilliant
animedubbedonline's comment, September 9, 2013 3:07 PM
awesome
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Plant diversity of the Tianshui Basin in the western Loess Plateau during the mid-Holocene – Charcoal records from archaeological sites

Plant diversity of the Tianshui Basin in the western Loess Plateau during the mid-Holocene – Charcoal records from archaeological sites | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Assessing the potential impact of increased temperature needs examination of robust palaeorecords that contain analogues. The fossil charcoal (anthracological) records from the mid-Holocene archaeological sites can provide palaeo-analogues on the impacts of climate change. The Xishanping and Dadiwan sites were continuously developed during the Neolithic Culture in the Tianshui Basin, western Loess Plateau. A total of 24 samples of fossil charcoal were recovered using a floatation method. At least 100 fragments were examined from each sample, and these fragments were identified following standard procedures, and the results were used to reconstruct the vegetation and plant diversity between 5200 and 4300 cal BP, which was a warm period for the region. The charcoal evidence from the Xishanping and Dadiwan sites confirm that woody plants were widely available, including temperate taxa such as Betula,Ulmus, Quercus, Carpinus, Acer, Corylus and Padus, and typical subtropical taxa such as Bambusoideae, Liquidambar formosana, Castanopsis, Pseudotsuga sinensis, and Eucommia ulmoides. The assemblages of fossil charcoal show that mixed forests of north-subtropical evergreen and deciduous broadleaved trees existed. This is a broader range of woody plants than at present in the Tianshui Basin. This leads to the conclusion that the warmer and increasing monsoon precipitation resulted in a northward shift in the southern vegetation zones. And that the natural botanical diversity between 5200 and 4300 cal BP was also greater than at present in the Tianshui Basin, western Loess Plateau.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A good use of archaeological charcoal, as a clear indicator of wood availability in human resource catchments on a cultural timescale. Of interest is that this region was more forested than present, and included a few subtropcial elements from the South during the Late Yangshao to Early Longshan time horozon.

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Holocene evolution in weathering and erosion patterns in the Pearl river delta - Hu - Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems - Wiley Online Library

Holocene evolution in weathering and erosion patterns in the Pearl river delta - Hu - Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems - Wiley Online Library | Kaogu | Scoop.it
Sediments in the Pearl River delta have the potential to record the weathering response of this river basin to climate change since 9.5 ka, most notably weakening of the Asian monsoon since the Early Holocene (~8 ka). Cores from the Pearl River delta show a clear temporal evolution of weathering intensity, as measured by K/Al, K/Rb and clay mineralogy, that shows deposition of less weathered sediment at a time of weakening monsoon rainfall in the Early-Mid Holocene (6.0–2.5 ka). This may reflect an immediate response to a less humid climate, or more likely reduced reworking of older deposits from river terraces as the monsoon weakened. Human settlement of the Pearl River basin may have had a major impact on landscape and erosion as a result of the establishment of widespread agriculture. After around 2.5 ka weathering intensity sharply increased, despite limited change in the monsoon, but at a time when anthropogenic pollutants (e.g., Cu, Zn and Pb) increased and when the flora of the basin changed. 87Sr/86Sr co-varies with these other proxies but is also partly influenced by the presence of carbonate. The sediments in the modern Pearl River are even more weathered than the youngest material from the delta cores. We infer that the spread of farming into the Pearl River basin around 2.7 ka was followed by a widespread reworking of old, weathered soils after 2.5 ka, and large-scale disruption of the river system that was advanced by 2.0 ka.
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This study of rock weathering and pollutions proxies foer sediments from the  Pearl River delta suggest that noticable regional human impact, in terms of erosion, only starts in the the Late Bronze Age/Iron Age around 800-700 BC; plausibly one might see this from just around 1000 BC. Although archaeological indicates some adoption from crops before 2000 BC, this must have been small scale, as most archaeology still points to shell midden coastal traditions, and it makes sense to serious agricultural investment and population growth only in the First Millennium BC. Of course we really need more environmentla archaeology and some good archaeobotanical evidence from this region.

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The Himalayas: Barrier and conduit for gene flow - Gayden - 2013 -

The Himalayas: Barrier and conduit for gene flow - Gayden - 2013 - | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The Himalayan mountain range is strategically located at the crossroads of the major cultural centers in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Although previous Y-chromosome studies indicate that the Himalayas served as a natural barrier for gene flow from the south to the Tibetan plateau, this region is believed to have played an important role as a corridor for human migrations between East and West Eurasia along the ancient Silk Road. To evaluate the effects of the Himalayan mountain range in shaping the maternal lineages of populations residing on either side of the cordillera, we analyzed mitochondrial DNA variation in 344 samples from three Nepalese collections (Newar, Kathmandu and Tamang) and a general population of Tibet. Our results revealed a predominantly East Asian-specific component in Tibet and Tamang, whereas Newar and Kathmandu are both characterized by a combination of East and South Central Asian lineages. Interestingly, Newar and Kathmandu harbor several deep-rooted Indian lineages, including M2, R5, and U2, whose coalescent times from this study (U2, >40 kya) and previous reports (M2 and R5, >50 kya) suggest that Nepal was inhabited during the initial peopling of South Central Asia. Comparisons with our previous Y-chromosome data indicate sex-biased migrations in Tamang and a founder effect and/or genetic drift in Tamang and Newar. Altogether, our results confirm that while the Himalayas acted as a geographic barrier for human movement from the Indian subcontinent to the Tibetan highland, it also served as a conduit for gene flow between Central and East Asia. Am J Phys Anthropol 151:169–182, 2013.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

For the most part these genetic data support the view of the high Himilayas as a boundaries between a South Asian population pool and an eastern Asia one. Most haplogroups in the Tibetan zone look for origins eastward while those in Nepla look south and west, Of inteterest however is some of the dating estimates on 10-12,000 years, which if accepted would imply expansions of terminal Pleisticene expansions westwards towards Tibet of foragers from the southern China region.

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The Neolithic Ceremonial Complex at Niuheliang and Wider Hongshan Landscapes in Northeastern China - Online First - Springer

The Neolithic Ceremonial Complex at Niuheliang and Wider Hongshan Landscapes in Northeastern China - Online First - Springer | Kaogu | Scoop.it

This paper reviews the current evidence for settlement patterns and ceremonial activity amongst Hongshan Neolithic groups in northeastern China, with particular attention to the well-known ceremonial site at Niuheliang. We consider the location of Hongshan ceremonial sites in their wider landscape settings, arguing that such sites are a chronologically late stage of Hongshan ceremonial investment and that, within these broad complexes, the most impressive architecture and portable goods come from an especially late phase of activity. These more impressive localities were also particularly privileged places in terms of their access to major routes, specific kinds of local geology and integrated patterns of visibility. In contrast to more loosely organized Hongshan residential sites of similar size, ceremonial centres such as Niuheliang (and, within these, certain important sub-localities) clearly functioned as key mechanisms for social, political and regional stratification around roughly the mid 6th millennium BP.

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UCL Institute of Archaeology

The UCL Institute of Archaeology is recognised for the excellence of its teaching and student experience, as reflected in numerous university league tables a...
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our new Master's recruitment video. Why London is the right place to study Asian archaeology and heritage (also a good place for archaeobotany)

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Antiquity Vol 87:335, 2013 pp 121-136 - Xiaolong Wu - Cultural hybridity and social status: elite tombs on China's Northern Frontier during the third century BC

Antiquity Vol 87:335, 2013 pp 121-136 - Xiaolong Wu - Cultural hybridity and social status: elite tombs on China's Northern Frontier during the third century BC | Kaogu | Scoop.it

It is a pleasure to present this vivid account of elite tombs on China's Northern Frontier, together with a closely argued case for cultural hybridity within the postcolonial paradigm. This incisive exposition of political interaction on a frontier will resonate with all of us who work with ‘imperial-barbarian’ relations—on any continent.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A study of how local elite culture in 3rd c. BC inner Mongolia activily and creatively drew on both Chinese and "barbarian" traditions to display and create local elite status and identity.

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Mortgaging the future of chinese paleontology

Mortgaging the future of chinese paleontology | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Chinese fossil forgery in the last decade highlights some troubling trends in Chinese vertebrate paleontology (1⇓⇓–4). While fossil forgeries unfailingly stoke public fascination in a field capable of producing the infamous Piltdown man hoax, the widespread damages that forgery causes are often not sufficiently recognized. Amid the renaissance of Chinese paleontology evidenced by stunning discoveries of inconceivable riches of fossils (5), paleontologic science is treading a path never experienced elsewhere: Commercialization of fossils and all that goes with a quasi-free market of fossil trade that has simultaneously become the boom and bane of Chinese vertebrate paleontology.

 

The coupling of several factors enables a spectacular boom in the commercial markets of vertebrate fossils: a long history of “dragon bone” collecting for traditional Chinese medicines, an explosive growth in funding for vertebrate paleontology in China, and a remarkable—if often ill-conceived—building spree of Chinese museums that actively participate in fossil trade. The financial incentive for polishing-up or augmenting an “imperfect” fossil may be irresistible for a farmer of modest means. Eyewitness reports suggest that there are now farmhouses that specialize in faking fossils, with shelves of spare fossil parts at standby for the right components. By their nature, statistics about artificial enhancements of fossils are difficult to come by [some estimate as high as 80% of specimens on display in some Chinese museums (see ref. 3)], but researchers in routine contact with traded fossils can attest to the pervasiveness of fossil faking, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

 

By Chinese law, vertebrate fossils are considered state property and are strictly protected for their scientific value (6). In practice, however, lack of enforcement and corruption enable a thriving fossil market that is highly profitable both domestically and internationally. The scale of illicit quarrying in Chinese fossiliferous sites is unprecedented, resulting in extraordinary discoveries of rare fossils that would not otherwise be found in surface samplings by field paleontologists. While the rest of the paleontologic world still proceeds with its “stone-age” pace of discoveries made by paleontologists scouring surface exposures, Chinese vertebrate paleontology has leapfrogged ahead with the participation of a vast labor force, but in the process risking the future of Chinese paleontology by hollowing out the mountains without regard for collecting common kinds of data and specimens for careful interpretation of ancient environments.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Some sobering discussion of the high levels of creating and modifying fossils for the burgeoning trade in fossils (from dinosaurs to more recent mammals), driven in part by the great expansion in museum buidling in China. Although this is not strictly archaeology, therer are some issue of museums and heritage management here to be sure, and I wonder if this impinges on the Pliestocene study of early humans ever...There are some serious issues about loss of contextual information at the same time as increasing rates of discovery brought out by the growth in non-professional fossil hunting.

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The Archaeobotanist: Unravelling agricultural packages

The Archaeobotanist: Unravelling agricultural packages | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Two recent studies, one for the west and and one for the east, illustrate how crop packages unravel and become less diverse as they spread. The spread of agriculture is so often presented as a processing of unfolding, like a blanket being stretched from the point of origin outwards. This is especially true of the spread of Near Eastern agriculture, a truly diversified crop package of cereals (multiple kinds of wheat and barley, pulses, flax, plus livestock). But when the spread of agriculture is examined in detail, it is clear that crop species and varieties drop out along the way, and those which do make it probably become less genetically diverse....

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The earliest well-dated archeological site in the hyper-arid Tarim Basin and its implications for prehistoric human migration and climatic change

The earliest well-dated archeological site in the hyper-arid Tarim Basin and its implications for prehistoric human migration and climatic change | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The routes and timing of human occupation of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) are crucial for understanding the evolution of Tibetan populations and associated paleoclimatic conditions. Many archeological sites have been found in/around the Tarim Basin, on the northern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Unfortunately, most of these sites are surface sites and cannot be directly dated. Their ages can only be estimated based on imprecise artifact comparisons. We recently found and dated an archeological site on a terrace along the Keriya River. Our ages indicate that the site was occupied at ~ 7.0–7.6 ka, making it the earliest well-dated archeological site yet identified in the Tarim Basin. This suggests that early human foragers migrated into this region prior to ~ 7.0–7.6 ka during the early to mid-Holocene climatic optimum, which may have provided the impetus for populating the region. We hypothesize that the Keriya River, together with the other rivers originating from the TP, may have served as access routes onto the TP for early human foragers. These rivers may also have served as stepping stones for migration further west into the now hyper-arid regions of the Tarim Basin, leading ultimately to the development of the Silk Road.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Evidence for Middle Holocene hunter-gatherers in the Tarim Basin, suggested to have come from the Tibetan Plateau to the south, which was probably occupied from the terminal Pleistocene.

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PLOS ONE: Buried in Sands: Environmental Analysis at the Archaeological Site of Xiaohe Cemetery, Xinjiang, China

PLOS ONE: Buried in Sands: Environmental Analysis at the Archaeological Site of Xiaohe Cemetery, Xinjiang, China | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Palynomorphs extracted from the mud coffins and plant remains preserved at the archaeological site of Xiaohe Cemetery (Cal. 3980 to 3540 years BP) in Lop Nur Desert of Xinjiang, China were investigated for the reconstruction of the ancient environments at the site. The results demonstrate that the Xiaohe People lived at a well-developed oasis, which was surrounded by extensive desert. The vegetation in the oasis consisted of Populus, Phragmites, Typha and probably of Gramineae, while the desert surrounding the oasis had some common drought-resistant plants dominated by Ephedra, Tamarix, Artemisia and Chenopodiaceae. This present work provides the first data of the environmental background at this site for further archaeological investigation.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Xiaohe, one of the famous Tarim basin cemeteries, was more oasis when occupied in the 2nd Millennium BC than is is today.

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Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of Ancient Canids Suggest a European Origin of Domestic Dogs

Complete Mitochondrial Genomes of Ancient Canids Suggest a European Origin of Domestic Dogs | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The geographic and temporal origins of the domestic dog remain controversial, as genetic data suggest a domestication process in East Asia beginning 15,000 years ago, whereas the oldest doglike fossils are found in Europe and Siberia and date to >30,000 years ago. We analyzed the mitochondrial genomes of 18 prehistoric canids from Eurasia and the New World, along with a comprehensive panel of modern dogs and wolves. The mitochondrial genomes of all modern dogs are phylogenetically most closely related to either ancient or modern canids of Europe. Molecular dating suggests an onset of domestication there 18,800 to 32,100 years ago. These findings imply that domestic dogs are the culmination of a process that initiated with European hunter-gatherers and the canids with whom they interacted.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

New data against the Chinese origins hypothesis for domesticated dogs.

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The origins of wheat in China and potential pathways for its introduction: A review

The origins of wheat in China and potential pathways for its introduction: A review | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Today in China, hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum – common wheat or bread wheat) is one of the major staple food crops. The other key cereal staples – rice, foxtail millet and broomcorn millet – are widely accepted as Chinese domesticates, but the origins of wheat cultivation in China are the subject of debate. There has long been a belief among Chinese scholars that China was an independent centre of wheat domestication, but recent scholarship suggests that cultivated wheat was introduced to China from its original site of domestication in the Near East. The precise path of entry is unknown. It is argued here that it is most likely to have been introduced at some time around the late 6th to early 5th millennium BP. Two hypotheses are presented. One hypothesis, supported primarily by the paleobotanical evidence, postulates that T. aestivum came in from the west, through northern Xinjiang, probably from Afghanistan or the Central Asian oases rather than the Eurasian steppes. The second, supported by the available archaeological evidence, proposes that the route of entry might have been from the north-west, from Eurasia, through southern Siberia and Mongolia.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Another attempt to make sense of the esrly wheat finds in China, in this case in terms of hypotheses for routes of introduction. There is a preference in this paper from a route from southern central Asia via Xinjiang, with the case made that the lack of early finds in Xinjiang is due to a lack of archaeobotanical sampling. An introduction from Sibera/Mongolia directly to Gansu is also entertained as a second possibility.

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Vegetation characteristics in the western Loess plateau between 5200 and 4300 cal. b.p. based on fossil charcoal records - Springer

Vegetation characteristics in the western Loess plateau between 5200 and 4300 cal. b.p. based on fossil charcoal records - Springer | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Understanding terrestrial vegetation dynamics is a crucial tool in global change research. The Loess Plateau, an important area for the study of Asian monsoons and early agriculture, poses a controversial question on the potential vegetation and its pattern. Fossil charcoal as direct evidence of wood provides precision in species identification and hence vegetation reconstruction. Charcoals from the Dadiwan and Xishanping sites suggest a great variety of plants between 5200 and 4300 cal.b.p. in the valley area of the western Loess Plateau. The deciduous broad-leaf wood from Quercus,Ulmus, Betula, Corylus and Acer is very frequent and makes up almost half the total abundance ratio of the represented taxa. Meanwhile, some typical subtropical taxa such as Liquidambar formosana,Eucommia ulmoides, Toxicodendron and Bambusoideae, are present at the two study sites. The high abundance of Picea appearing between 5200 and 4300 cal. b.p. suggests the development ofPicea forests in the valley of the western Loess Plateau. The assemblages of charcoal indicate that the mixed forest of evergreen deciduous and conifer-deciduous broadleaved trees developed in the valley of the Loess Plateau during the Holocene optimum. Precipitation is the main controlling factor for forest development. The increasing precipitation is the probable reason for the appearance of north-subtropical forests between 5200 and 4300 cal. b.p

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Human-environment interactions in the development of early Chinese civilization

Beginning with the earliest organized habitation sites the options provided by the regional environment have largely or partially governed the location and relocation of human settlements. The settlement system in second millennium BCE Henan Province, China, evolved during a period of significant climatic change and shifting river courses but relative soil stability. Human–environment interactions across the landscape have left ample remains for investigation by scholars of social and cultural change and by natural scientists. The social effects of climate and geomorphological change during this period are complex and only partially understood. It is well documented that long-term soil stability before and during the second millennium BCE gave rise to the development of good agricultural soils, without which population expansion probably could not have taken place. This paper summarizes some of the recent research in climate change and, from two of our own projects, in geomorphology and ecology that underlie environmental impacts on the evolving state-level societies, especially related to settlement location and relocation. For example, the Sh

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Origin and spread of wheat in China

Origin and spread of wheat in China | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Wheat was added as a new crop to the existing millet and rice based agricultural systems of China. Here we present 35 radiocarbon ages from wheat seeds collected from 18 sites between western (Xinjiang Province) and eastern (Henan Province) China. The earliest wheat ages cluster around 2100–1800 BCE in northern China's Hexi corridor of Gansu Province, where millet was already a well-established crop. Wheat first appears in Xinjiang and Henan about 300–400 years later, and perhaps a little earlier than this in Xinjiang, and we hypothesize that the likely route of wheat into China was via Russia through Gansu.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This paper reports 35 direct AMS dates on archaeological wheat collected along ther Gansu corridor into central China. It corroborates the conclusions reasched by Flad et al (2010):http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/arrival-of-wheat-in-china.html, and the low quantities of wheat underline its minor dietary role when first introduced (as argued recently by Boivin et al 2012: http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/unravelling-agricultural-packages.html). It may still be the case the Zhaojiazhuang has earlier wheat by a couple of hundred years...

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, June 10, 2013 8:57 AM

Contrary to the author's conclusion, however, it seems a bit of a stretch to see a transition to from millet to wheat at 2000 BC (which they try to attribute to climatic change), as wheat did not become really significant agriculturally until perhaps the Han Dyansty. Given aridification ~2000 BC, millets would have been far better, drought-tolerant crops to stick with. The adoption of wheat, instead, needs to be seen in terms of social drivers for the adoption of the exotic.

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Archaeobotanical implications of phytolith assemblages from cultivated rice systems, wild rice stands and macro-regional patterns

Archaeobotanical implications of phytolith assemblages from cultivated rice systems, wild rice stands and macro-regional patterns | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Rice can be cultivated in a range of arable systems, including upland rainfed, lowland rainfed or irrigated, flooded or décrue, and deep water cultivation. These agricultural regimes represent ecosystems controlled to large degree by agricultural practices, and can be shown to produce different weed flora assemblages. In order to reconstruct early rice cultivation systems it is necessary to better establish how ancient rice farming practices may be seen using archaeobotanical data. This paper focuses on using modern analogue phytolith assemblages of associated crop weeds found within cultivation regimes, as well as in wild rice stands (unplanted stands of Oryza nivara or O. rufipogon), as a means of interpreting archaeobotanical assemblages. Rice weeds and sediment samples have been recorded and collected from a range of arable systems and wild stands in India. The husks, leaves and culms of associated weeds were processed for phytolith reference samples, and sediment samples were processed for phytoliths in order to establish patterns identifiable to specific systems. The preliminary results of the phytolith analysis of samples from these modern fields demonstrate that phytolith assemblage statistics show correlation with variation in rice cultivation systems on the basis of differences in environmental conditions and regimes, with wetness being one major factor. Analysis of phytoliths from archaeological samples from contrasting systems in Neolithic China and India demonstrate how this method can be applied to separate archaeological regions and periods based on inferred differences in past agricultural practices, identifying wet cultivation systems in China, dry millet-dominated agriculture of north China and rainfed/dry rice in Neolithic India.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

next we will be expanding on this sort of analysis in the Lower Yangtze...watch this space.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, May 17, 2013 4:15 AM

We present a new methodology for identifying ancient rice arable systems.

We create modern analogues of phytolith assemblages of rice weeds from modern fields.

These analogues are used as models to understand archaeobotanical samples.

We present an analysis of different systems from Neolithic India and China.

More studiies applying and improving on this study are underway now as part of the rice project, which recieved further NERC support: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/calendar/articles/20130509b

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28,000 Rivers Disappeared in China: What Happened?

28,000 Rivers Disappeared in China: What Happened? | Kaogu | Scoop.it
Government officials say it's been caused by statistical inaccuracies and climate change. But is that the whole story?
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River floodplain aggradation history and cultural activities: geoarchaeological investigation at the Yuezhuang site, Lower Yellow River, China

River floodplain aggradation history and cultural activities: geoarchaeological investigation at the Yuezhuang site, Lower Yellow River, China | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Archaeobotanical research at the Yuezhuang and Xihe sites of the Houli culture in the Lower Yellow River has found abundant carbonised plant remains, including rice, millet, weed seeds and many other plants (7800-7000 cal BP). Although studies of the diverse economic practices of the Houli people have begun, issues such as ecological diversity and relationships between site formation processes with environmental changes are still poorly understood. Applying soil micromorphology and related methods such as particle size distribution and loss-on-ignition at Yuezhuang, this paper presents results of the geoarchaeological investigation and the implications for the reconstruction of site formation processes in relation to river alluvial history. A long alluvial sequence is reconstructed, consisting of frequent alternations of short-periods surface stabilities and succeeding alluviations. Human occupations corresponded to those short-term surface stabilities and are evidenced by the presence of anthropogenic inclusions in thin sections, including burned bone fragments and pottery sherds. The significances of this study to an ecological approach focusing on environmental changes and cultural adaption are discussed.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This is one of the first serioes applications of archaeological soil micromophology in China (Richard MacPahil did a liitle some years ago in the Yiluo valley). This geoarchaeological study frames the Houli culture occupation in relation to dynamic cycles of landscape stability and flooding, What we need now is more comparable studies to see if these kinds of setting are typical.

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Zhang Chi and Hsiao-chun Hung - Jiahu 1: earliest farmers beyond the Yangtze River

Zhang Chi and Hsiao-chun Hung - Jiahu 1: earliest farmers beyond the Yangtze River | Kaogu | Scoop.it

The authors summarise the latest evidence for the introduction of rice cultivation into northern China, and show that it most probably began there in the early seventh millennium BC as a result of influence or migration from the Yangtze Valley

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Another selective and incomplete use of the Jiahu data, coupled with contemporary Baligang, which is in a different river valley, and lacked enough ceramics reconsruct a single vessel. Is early Baliganag really the same culture at Jiahu? Is Baligang derived from a migration from the Yangtze as the authors contend? Is there even evidence that Jiahu is an immigrant farming culturwe from the Yangtze? No! There is no evidence really in favour of this, only a dogmatic belief tht rice should have a single centre of origin and dispersal by migration.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, March 3, 2013 6:17 AM

I am too busy on other work to provide a full blog on this now, but I will in due course. Unfortunately this paper is highly mis-leading, and once again Jiahu is the centre of rather selective communication that claims to resolves the origins of rice agriculture but relies on a certain amount slight of hand that obscures  the actual data. First the paper slectively picks data from the ealiest levels from the Peking University excavations at Baligang together with the ragtag data from a couple of excavation campaings at Jiahu (in a different river valley). First, as to the photo seen here, these are storage pits and houses of the Third Millennium BC, Qiujialing/Shijiahe/Longshan period, which is the focus of that site. So the authors have selected misleading photo that has nothing to do with the few lower contexts from which the rice and acorn remains discussed in the paper come. The rice data, itself is unpbulished, but in this paper it relies on an student dissertation (a  very good) which focused on the Qiujialing/Shijiahe/Longshan and Yangshao period, which in a footnote mentioned some preliminary data on sikelet bases from the 7th millennium BC lower levels. That is actually a personal communication from me and Dr. Qin Ling, on the bais of a preliminary sort of one early sample after it came out of the ground in 2008. The very precise precentages given are prone to revisions once the full analysis of the lower levels are finished. In terms of using the data from Jiahu, there are three sets of archaeobotanical data which are mixed in this paper in selective way. First there is the 1999 monograph on earlier excavations, from which comments on rice and the presence of wild foods in quoted. Later informed comments and discussions of this material (such as Fuller et al 2007 in Antiquity, are carefully avoided, as they suggest this maerial is entirely consistent with wild rice gathering from a range of wild rice species or populations). In absence of spikelet bases from Jiahu we simply do not know how much of this rice might have been cultivated and how gathered wild: the grain morpholoigal diversity tends to point towards wild gathering at least some of this. Second, there are the only systematic samples, collected by wet-sieving by Zhao Zhijun. These rightly provided some quantified data on the present of rice versus other foods and some possible weeds. It should be noted that none of the weeds is exclusively diagnostic of either cultivation nor wet rice. (e.g. Digitaria is typically a dry millet weed, but does occur in early rice cultivation as well). Indeed this site shows rice as a co-staple with acorns and Trapa, much as we see in amongst early cultivators in the Yangtze. Zhao's grain metrics, largely overlap the small grains from the 1999 excavation report, but these too are left out. Third there are grain metrics from the later (2004) excavations.that came not through flotation but from hand collecting and coarse screening, which were published by Liu et al in The Holocene 2007 as a critique of the 1999 measurement. (Collection methods could bias these otwards large sizes.) This measurements are quoted here, but mis-quotes, as they actually show size reduction over time-- a trend more inline with wild rice adapting to changing climate than a domestication process. The problem is all these set of measurements are real and should be taken together. They indicate no clear trend in size change but instead a huge spread of metrical diversity. Unfortunately, apart from those readers who have been through the Chinese monogrpahs and dissertations and know the unpublished material from Baligang, this paper may well mislead as well as inform on the earliest rice farmers!

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8000-Year old rice remains from the north edge of the Shandong Highlands, East China

8000-Year old rice remains from the north edge of the Shandong Highlands, East China | Kaogu | Scoop.it

Systematic archaeobotanical work at Xihe site recovered 8000 years old rice and other plant remains. Cultural context analyses of the plant and animal remains indicated Xihe people relied mainly on fishing–hunting–gathering as their subsistence. As the largest amount and higher concentration of plant remains, rice might contribute much to plant food resource at the settlement. Even though it is too early to demonstrate the nature of the rice remains (whether it is wild, cultivated or domesticated), the case that discovery of Xihe rice has undoubtedly provided new evidence for our understanding of rice exploitation subsistence at about 8000 years ago in East China.

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, February 25, 2013 9:13 AM

Importany evidence for early rice and millet consumption in northern Shandong: 74 fragments of rice grains and 2 "Setaria italica" This looks to be morpholoigically wild and would fit with our expectation that wild rice used to range this far north. The authors argue that this rice was had "special" status because of its concetration in a particular pit, but given that this pit had higher density of most categories of plant remains and animals remains (especially fish bones), what seems to be special is the preservation conditions of the pitfill rather than contents of the pit. Beyond this special status context, the authors argue that the chronologicl context should be taken to indicate cultivation because of similar age sites like Jiahu and Baligang also have rice that may be cultivated (or maybe not?)-- this all makes for a rather tenuous argument for inferring cultivation.  Given the fragmentary nature of the 2 foxtail millet grains even the cultivation of these could be questioned. Still an exciting early archaeobotanical assemblage, although looks to be more in the hunter-gather grade than early farming.

jasmin's comment, February 27, 2013 7:33 AM
Rice is the important component in south Indian dishes. http://www.vaango.in/