Sea-level fluctuations and the developing Hemudu culture in the Lower Yangtze River, China
Keyang He, Houyuan Lu, Yunfei Zheng, Jianping Zhang, Deke Xu, Xiujia Huan, Jiehua Wang, and Shao Lei. 2018.
Middle-Holocene Sea-Level Fluctuations Interrupted the Developing Hemudu Culture in the Lower Yangtze River, China.
Quaternary Science Reviews 188: 90-103.
This multi-proxy study combining phytolith, pollen, and diatom analyses, was carried out on the eastern coastal zone of China, to study human-environment interaction in the Lower Yangtze River, an area recognized as a center of rice domestication. Dramatic sea-level fluctuations during the Holocene epoch likely had a strong impact on the Hemudu culture, once presumed as a mature agricultural economy based on rice.
In this study, phytoliths were used to trace the cultivation of rice, and to identify the first signs of rice domestication. Based on the data gathered, the authors show that the Hemudu culture and subsequent Liangzhu culture developed in the context of regression and were interrupted by two transgressions that occurred during 6300-5600 BP and 5000-4500 BP.
The regional ecological environment of the Yushan site alternated between intertidal mudflat and freshwater wetlands induced by sea-level fluctuations in the mid-late Holocene. Though rice was cultivated in the wetland as early as 6700 BP, this cultivation was subsequently discontinued due to the transgression; thus, full domestication of rice did not occur until 5600 BP in this region.