Tuesday, 6 December 2011

More on rice and millet in South China and Southeast Asia

Some new publications highlight new research and new researchers working on the archaeobotany of parts of China and Southeast Asia. Three recent papers all from among a new generation of archaeobotanists report and review evidence for archaeological rice and foxtail millet (Setaria italica) in the parts of China and in Thailand. Recently published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, is a paper by Nasu et al. on "Land use change for rice and millet at Chengtoushan" a Daxi era (4500-4000 BC) site in Hunan province. This reports in detail the weed flora, mainly indicative of wet rice cultivation (on , as well as discussion of probable rainfed foxtail millet, the earliest South of its probably northern Chinese areas of origin, as well as plausible Perilla and melon (Cucumis melo) cultivation. Two papers have also appeared in the journal Rice from a conference on agriculture and language-spread held at Cornell in September, both by PhD students. One by Jade Guedes, who is carrying out new primary archaeobotanical research in Sichuan province, reviews "Millets, Rice, Social Complexity, and the Spread of Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China." The other, by one my PhD students at UCL, Cristina Castillo, reviews the archaeobotanical record from Thailand: "Rice in Thailand: The Archaeobotanical Contribution". Both also discuss weed flora, including evidence for wet rice cultivation in the case of the Chengdu Bronze Age and dry, rainfed rice in the case of Iron Age southern Thailand.