Tag Archives: Neolithic

The colonization of Cyprus

Agro-pastoralist colonization of Cyprus in the 10th millennium BP: initial assessments.

A startling variety of new evidence from Cyprus demonstrates that the introduction of the Neolithic occurred in the 10th millennium BP, over a millennium earlier than often assumed in studies of Mediterranean island colonizations (e.g. Stanley Price 1977; Cherry 1990). On the basis of evidence summarized below, we propose that the introduction of agro-pastoralism was by migration rather than a result of adaptations by indigenous foragers. The process does not fit the wave of advance model used to account for the spread of farming in Europe (Ammerman & Cavalli-Sforza 1984), nor its modification, jump dispersal (Van Andel & Runnels 1995), but is the outcome of regional environmental change. All dates in this paper are uncalibrated BP

I know that this is a fascinating article but I have a screaming headache and will read it tomorrow. these are the sites that show imported and therefore domesticated cattle in Cyprus at about 10,500 BP, along with goats and sheep.

Along the same lines is this pdf, The Earliest Prehistory of Cyprus, which has other information on the sites. Again, one for tomorrow.

Using ancient DNA to examine genetic continuity at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Portugal

Using ancient DNA to examine genetic continuity at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Portugal

Two main mechanisms for the introduction of agriculture at the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic in Portugal have been proposed: indigenous adoption and colonisation. Distinguishing between these mechanisms can be regarded as a question of genetic continuity or discontinuity at the transition. A genetic comparison of late Mesolithic and early Neolithic populations at the transition using ancient DNA is described here. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was extracted from human remains collected in several Mesolithic sites of the Sado estuary and from Neolithic cave sites. Phylogenetic analysis, based on the mitochondrial hypervariable region 1 (HVSI), and comparison with DNA from modern European populations was performed. The absence of mtDNA haplogroup J in the ancient Portuguese Neolithic sample suggests that this population was not derived directly from Near Eastern farmers. The Mesolithic and Neolithic groups show genetic discontinuity implying colonisation at the Neolithic transition in Portugal.

A study of Mesolithic and Neolithic Mt DNA from sites inPortugal.


J shows iself to be absent from the Mesolithic and Neolithic samples, and there was some loss of diversity in less common Hg’s. There’s a fair difference between the Mesolithic and Neolithic samples, suggestin population discontinuity-probably a large amount of immgration at the start of the neolithic, although the lack of J suggests this wasn’t from the near East



It also mentions isotope studies on the bones show a very abrupt change from the Meolithic Maritime diet to the land based Neolithic diet, the same as in Britain.

Mesolithic Iberia pdf’s

The Mesolithic of Iberia


Re-thinking the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Iberia: a view from the West.

Bookmarked pdfs, for those interested. Unread by me as yet, they’ll have to wait until later!

A brief summary of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Eastern Sahara

A brief summary of the earliest Neolithic settlements in the Eastern Sahara

A Fred Wendorf paper. Although he supports an early neolithic domestication in the Sahara of cattle he admits in other sources the evidence isn’t great, just suggestive.

The paper was written before the 11,500 year old pots turned up in Mali (I’m still not happy with that dating method) which seems to be associated with the mechtoid people of the Sahara who reached as far south as Niger and Mali during the Saharan wet phase. This also dates the arrival of barley at about 8,000 bp, which would suggest that there are neolithic farming sites further north a touch older than that (barley is near Eastern in origin). This would date the neolithic arrival in Egypt to before the 7,000 year old oldest known Egyptian site near Fayum. 


Red marks the oldest Malian pottery spot. Other pottery yielding sites are marked on the map. Nabta is marked also (inside Egypt).

Prehistoric contacts over the Straits of Gibraltar indicated by genetic analysis of Iberian Bronze Age cattle

Prehistoric contacts over the Straits of Gibraltar indicated by genetic analysis of Iberian Bronze Age cattle
Cecilia Anderung*, Abigail Bouwman†, Per Persson‡, José Miguel Carretero§, Ana Isabel Ortega§, Rengert Elburg¶, Colin Smith∥, Juan Luis Arsuaga**, Hans Ellegren*, and Anders Götherström*,††
+Author Affiliations
The geographic situation of the Iberian Peninsula makes it a natural link between Europe and North Africa. However, it is a matter of debate to what extent African influences via the Straits Gibraltar have affected Iberia’s prehistoric development. Because early African pastoralist communities were dedicated to cattle breeding, a possible means to detect prehistoric African–Iberian contacts might be to analyze the origin of cattle breeds on the Iberian Peninsula. Some contemporary Iberian cattle breeds show a mtDNA haplotype, T1, that is characteristic to African breeds, generally explained as being the result of the Muslim expansion of the 8th century A.D., and of modern imports. To test a possible earlier African influence, we analyzed mtDNA of Bronze Age cattle from the Portalón cave at the Atapuerca site in northern Spain. Although the majority of samples showed the haplotype T3 that dominates among European breeds of today, the T1 haplotype was found in one specimen radiocarbon dated 1800 calibrated years B.C. Accepting T1 as being of African origin, this result indicates prehistoric African–Iberian contacts and lends support to archaeological finds linking early African and Iberian cultures. We also found a wild ox haplotype in the Iberian Bronze Age sample, reflecting local hybridization or backcrossing or that aurochs were hunted by these farming cultures.

It seems they were moving cattle across the straits about 4,000 years ago.

The Spread of Agro-Pastoral Economies across Mediterranean Europe: A View from the Far West

The Spread of Agro-Pastoral Economies across Mediterranean Europe: A View from the Far West.
Jo5o Zilhio
Instituto de Arqueologia, Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa,
1699 Lisboa Codex, Portugal

The transition to food production in Portugal begins with the arrival of cardial pottery and domesticates, an event that can be dated to the time period between 6800 and 6200 Bp. These items are found in sites located in the northern part of Estremadura. Contemporaneous hunter-gatherer adaptations are known to have continued their development up to c. 6000 BP in areas located further south, centered in the inner part of the estuaries of the rivers Tejo, Sado and Mira. This pattern is interpreted as indicating that the onset of agro-pastoral economies is linked to the arrival of small groups of settlers that, through interaction with local hunters, are at the origins of the subsequent expansion (completed about one thousand years later) of those economies to the rest of the Portuguese territory.

The archaeological evidence from southern Spain and southern France commonly invoked by proponents of models of the transition to food production as the result of the domestication of local resources or of the acquisition of novel resources bylocal hunters through long-distance exchange systems is shown to be flawed. Severe disturbances at the MesolithiclNeolithic interface of the stratigraphic sequences upon which such models are based-sometimes not recognized by the excavators, but documented either by subsequent work or by critical evaluation of the site reports–can be shown to have occurred. Such disturbances would account well for the radiocarbon dates between 8000 and 7000 Bp obtained at some of those sites, as well as for the presence of sheep bones in their pre- Neolithic strata.

I’ll admit to not reading this one yet (it’s late). One for Luis.

Just when was the wheel invented, and by whom?


Cucuteni-Trypillian cow-on-wheels, 3950-3650 B.C

I was curious, I’ve seen the invention of the wheel down as 3,500 BC in Sumeria. But this funky little ceramic toy from the Ukraine seems to be a bit older. I’ve seen claims that there’s proof the Trypillians used the wheel 6,500 years ago (reports of a copper axle and some museum exhibits) but I can’t substantiate them. There’s also what appears to be wheel tracks for a cart under a barrow grave in Flintbeck Germany about 3,600 years old, which would make a later invention in Sumer seem unlikely.

I’m not sold on a near Eastern origin of the wheel. The Cucuteni-Trypillians predate Sumer. Also, the language surrounding the wheel seems to be PIE, which would weigh against a Semitic origin. From this publication:

The very earliest presently known evidence for wheeled vehicles comes (in the form of wheeled animal-shaped cups and house models) from the Tripolye culture (phases B2 & early C1) (Gusev 1998; Burmeister 2004: 14f.). The slide-car pulled by oxen is widely assumed to have been the predecessor of wheeled vehicles, and it too is documented from the Tripolye culture (C1 and earlier, cf. Burmeister 2004: 21f.). The Tripolye culture is located in the middle of the earliest vehicle finds, in the forest-steppe with big trees needed for solid wheels yet with plains more trafficable than the forested central and NW Europe or the marshy Sumer, where slide-cars remained long in use.

Although the PIE language being forced on the Trypillians by invaders (suggested in paper) now seems unlikely, as it probably spread out with the first Neolithic farmers. At least, the 9k age for the expansion and northern Turkish origin of PIE would seem to suggest that.

There’s a page here about the worlds oldest wooden wheel found in Slovenia, about 5,200 years old.Seen below. The wheel was found in April 2002, together with a squared oak axle, in the remains of a pile-dwelling settlement.


Population affinities of Neolithic Siberians

Population affinities of Neolithic Siberians: A snapshot from prehistoric Lake Baikal

Archaeological evidence supports the inhabitation of the Lake Baikal region since the Paleolithic. Both metric and nonmetric osteological studies suggest that Neolithic Cis-Baikal populations are the ancestors of contemporary inhabitants of the region. To date, ancient DNA data have not been used to corroborate this biological continuity hypothesis. This study presents a temporal snapshot of the Cis-Baikal Neolithic by examining mtDNA diversity in two cemetery populations situated on the Angara River downstream of Lake Baikal. The 800 years separating the use of the two cemeteries is thought to represent a biocultural hiatus in the Cis-Baikal region, one that ended when a new group migrated into the area. To assess the likelihood that genetic continuity exists between these two Neolithic groups, we examined both mtDNA coding region and hypervariable region I (HVI) polymorphisms from skeletal remains excavated from both cemeteries (Lokomotiv and Ust’-Ida). The mtDNA haplogroup distributions of the two cemetery populations differ significantly, suggesting that they were biologically distinct groups. When the biological distance between these Neolithic groups is compared with modern Siberian and other East Eurasian groups, the posthiatus group (Serovo-Glazkovo) generally aligns with contemporary Siberians, while the prehiatus (Kitoi) individuals are significantly different from all but modern Kets and Shorians living in the Yenisey and Ob River basins to the west of Lake Baikal. These results suggest that the Lake Baikal region experienced a significant depopulation event during the sixth millennium BP, and was reoccupied by a new immigrant population some 800 years later.

Oldest Neolithic settlement in Croatia

C14 dating of early Neolithic settlement Galovo near Slavonski Brod in Northern Croatia


In Northern Croatia, more than hundred settlements are known from the period of the Starcevo culture, the first Neolithic period in south-east (SE) Europe. Here we present the 14C dating of nine charcoal samples from the Neolithic settlement Galovo in Slavonski Brod. According to archaeological findings, it belongs to the early phase (Linear A) of the Starcevo culture and has a special ritual-burial area separated by two wooden fences from its residential part. The vertical stratigraphy revealed two phases of the settlement construction in period 6070-5630 cal BC. In the younger phase (5380-4960 cal BC) the settlement expanded and the burial area became smaller. Combination of archaeological findings and 14C dates thus allowed a reconstruction of the 1000-year-long existence of this settlement that existed simultaneously with the nearby settlement Zadubravlje-Duzine, dated earlier to 6000-5000 cal BC. These are the first absolute dates of the beginning of neolithization in Northern Croatia.

More on the site…

In 2005, the ninth season of systematic archaeological excavations of an Early Neolithic Starčevo culture settlement was conducted on a land called Galovo in the north-eastern part of
Slavonski Brod. The works were organised by the Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb in co-operation with the Museum of Brodsko Posavlje from Slavonski Brod, led by K. Minichreiter, Ph.D. (Minichreiter 2005, 25-30). During the excavations an area of 200 m2 was excavated, which on its southern and western sides was a continuation of the surface excavated in past years. The working pit dwelling 205/206 was completely excavated, and the excavations of the upper layers of four surrounding pit dwellings – 291/292, 323/324, 749/750 and 753/754 – started. In the follow-up settlement excavations, working pit dwelling 205/206 was uncovered with a bread oven and a pottery kiln, as well as a wooden frame and clay weights of a vertical loom. The pit dwelling had two rooms, northern and southern, and on its north-eastern side there was an entrance with two steps, each 20 cm high. In the northern part were the kiln, the oven and the loom, and in the southern part a levelled walking area and a niche (possibly a shelf) for storing things or sitting.

The pit dwelling walls on the western, southern and south-eastern side were steeply dug up to 1 m from the peripheral part of the structure. On the northern, north-eastern and eastern side
sequences of pillar holes were found, and in the middle of the pit dwelling, from NW to SE (along the longer axis) vertical wooden pillars were entrenched (with a 30-40 cm diameter) serving as the main central supports of the roof construction. At two points, rows of diagonal supports were identified as well, arranged vertically with the central structure. Along with clay vessels standard in shape and decorations, fragments of bowls were found in the pit dwelling painted white on a red background. Of specific finds, decorated bone objects, clay idols and smoothed stone axes stand out. Radiocarbon 14C analyses determined the age of the baking oven (5800-5715 cal BC) and the loom (5790-5660 cal BC), suggesting that pit dwelling 205 is somewhat older than the neighbouring pit dwellings. This is confirmed also by vessel fragments with white painted motifs, which were unearthed only in this pit dwelling out of a total of six pit dwellings excavated in this part of the settlement. In the upper layers of pit dwellings 749, 753 and 291 parts of an altar, a dog figurine – protomes on an altar, pillared idols and pottery decorated with reliefs, probably of an animal figure. Archaeological finds belong to the Linear A stage, just as in the previous works. The discovery of white painted patterns on vessels confirm the assumption made by S. Dimitrijević, who called this stage the white Linear A. This significant discovery in continental Croatia moves the white Linear
A distribution border further west, suggesting that white Linear A existed not only in eastern, but also in central Slavonia.

And here and here.

And some images of the site…

Galovo - stove


The very early date means this was probably one of the first neolithic settlements in Croatia- a beautiful country, and well worth a visit. The Neretva river delta in early summer looks like heaven on earth.

Plants and people from the Early Neolithic to Shang periods in North China

Plants and people from the Early Neolithic to Shang periods in North China
Gyoung-Ah Lee*, Gary W. Crawford†,‡, Li Liu*, and Xingcan Chen§
+Author Affiliations

*Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, Victoria 3086, Australia;
†Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, ON, Canada L5L 1C6; and
§Chinese Academy of Social Science, Beijing 100710, China
Communicated by Bruce D. Smith, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, November 11, 2006 (received for review August 15, 2006)

An assemblage of charred plant remains collected from 26 sites in the Yiluo valley of North China as part of an archaeological survey spans the period from the sixth millennium to 1300 calibrated calendrical years (cal) B.C. The plant remains document a long sequence of crops, weeds, and other plants in the country. The results also demonstrate the effectiveness of sediment sampling as part of an archaeological survey. Ten accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dates on crop remains inform an assessment of the sequence of agricultural development in the region. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica subsp. italica) was grown during the Early Neolithic period and was the principal crop for at least four millennia. Broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) was significantly less important throughout the sequence. Rice (Oryza sativa) was introduced by 3000 cal B.C. but apparently was not an important local crop. Wheat became a significant crop between 1600 and 1300 cal B.C. The weed flora diversified through time and were dominated by annual grasses, some of which were probably fodder for domesticated animals. The North China farming tradition that emphasized dry crops (millets, wheat, and legumes) with some rice appears to have been established at the latest by the Early Shang (Erligang; 1600–1300 B.C.) period

Early Neolithic.

Peiligang sites here are small, and cultural deposits are thin, so their representation in our sample is low. Nevertheless, foxtail millet is part of the plant assemblage at Wuluoxipo and Fudian E, in contrast to the Early Neolithic occupations at Xinglonggou in Inner Mongolia and Yuezhuang in Shandong, where broomcorn millet predominates. Weeds are represented only at Wuluoxipo by probable green foxtail grass. Both broomcorn and foxtail millet are reported from the Peiligang site (6), so the absence of broomcorn millet from the small sample in the Yiluo valley late Peiligang is not necessarily evidence of its absence. The two flotation samples, because they contain millet and annual weeds, are qualitatively similar to the rest of the Yiluo survey samples, although they are among the lowest in density of all of the samples. The low density is suggestive of less-intensive food production, but this suggestion needs to be tested by more comprehensive sampling.

Middle Neolithic

Millets are the main crop remains during the Yiluo valley Late Yangshao. Weedy annuals are also quite common. Seed densities are higher at Late Yangshao sites than in the Early Neolithic (Fig. 3), suggesting a greater intensity of crop production and land disturbance by 3500–3000 B.C. Rice phytoliths have been identified at the Yulinzhuang site, situated on the tableland near the Shengshui River (3). Charred rice is in samples that are part of the ongoing analysis of samples from the excavation phase of the Zhaocheng site (Table 1). Subsistence may have been enhanced with the introduction of rice either as a trade item or as a locally grown crop. A possible soybean is in the Zhaocheng sample, but the plant appears to have no more significance there than at other sites in the region. Climatic amelioration and fertile, stable lowlands probably contributed to the success of intensifying agricultural production with two types of millets and possibly rice and soybean being grown. By this time, a two-tiered settlement hierarchy had appeared in the region with the rise of the large center at Zhaocheng (2) in addition to a number of small sites. The other Late Yangshao occupations sampled are the comparatively small ones. The samples, one or two pits from each site, are far too few to provide a comprehensive assessment of hierarchical specialization here. In fact, the evidence for such specialization from the perspective of the plant remains is weak.

Late Neolithic.

Foxtail millet is still the dominant crop during the Longshan. Broomcorn millet density is higher in both the Early and Late Longshan period compared with other periods. Three sites have relatively dense representation of this millet, the highest for all sampled periods (Table 1). Rice is present at Huizui, and an AMS date on the rice (SNU04416) confirms its Late Longshan association in the Yiluo region (Fig. 2). Rice phytoliths have been found in pit samples at Nanshi and Luokou NE, but charred grains have not been found at either location (3). The majority of weedy grasses appear to be millet-tribe grasses (Paniceae) and exhibit far greater morphological variation than do the grasses from earlier periods. Some specimens may be Panicoideae rather than Paniceae. The mannagrass-type seeds are more common than in preceding periods, suggesting that, if the specimens are mannagrass, aquatic habitats are increasing in local significance. Anthropogenic habitats were far more extensive in the Longshan period, and people may have encouraged the grasses, possibly for fodder. Indeed, the Late Longshan Huizui occupation has significant evidence of livestock, primarily pig, but also cattle, sheep, and goat.

Population density, intensified intergroup conflict, and social stratification all increased during the Longshan in the Huanghe basin. The Late Longshan marked a significant increase in the number of sites compared with the preceding Early Longshan, when there was a significant drop in settlement numbers, perhaps representing a local depopulation. Hierarchically organized societies were well established by this time. Agricultural intensification evidenced by expansion of anthropogenic habitats and higher densities of crops correlates with these developments. Broad interregional interaction such as trade in the Yiluo region is evidenced for the first time. To what extent plants were traded is a question for further research. For example, rice may have been a product brought to the region from the south and east. Increasing land instability and climate deterioration during the third millennium B.C. did not deter agricultural intensification (9). The deterioration clearly did not go beyond the tolerances of productive agriculture.

Erlitou Period.

The trends noted for the earlier periods continue. Rice is more prevalent in the samples, although it is still rare and restricted to the large sites, particularly Shaochai. The large Erlitou-period sites also have higher weed diversity, but this may well be a factor of the larger sample size from this period. Preliminary animal-bone analysis at Huizui indicates the continuing importance of livestock. Pigs are dominant, followed by cattle, sheep/goats, and dogs. Many of the weeds are potential animal fodder as they may have been earlier in the valley. Stable isotope analyses at the Yangshao period Xipo site in western Henan provide evidence that pigs and dogs consumed substantial quantities of C4 plants, probably domesticated millet and green foxtail grass (21). Settlement number and size increased significantly during the Erlitou period, and the first major urban center emerged at the Erlitou site (3). Settlement nucleation appears in the survey area for the first time. Shaochai is a large regional administration center, subsidiary to Erlitou (3). The rest of the settlements dating to this period consist of large, medium, and small sites. Small sites have no evidence of craft specialization (2), so they were probably agricultural villages.

Erligang (Early Shang) Period.

Erligang samples are not as numerous as those from the preceding Erlitou period because of a significant reduction in population in the Yiluo valley. Most Erligang period sites are small because the primary urban center moved from Erlitou to Yanshi and subsequently ≈60 km east to Zhengzhou (2). Nevertheless, four sites have substantial plant remains. Foxtail millet still outnumbers other crops, but wheat has the second-highest representation next to foxtail millet at this time (Table 1). The Erligang association of wheat is confirmed by an AMS date (Fig. 2). Beefsteak plant, a potential domesticate for seasoning, oil, and possibly leafy greens, first appears in the flotation record at this time (SI Fig. 15). Rice constitutes a negligible proportion of the grain at the Shangzhuang and Tianposhuiku sites.

Conducting flotation during the survey stage of this project has proven to be an effective heuristic device as well as a method for developing basic knowledge of subsistence through time in a narrowly defined region, the Yiluo valley. Interpretations and limitations of the data must be contextualized in terms of sample size and type. In particular, plants that people rarely used are likely not represented in the flotation samples, so, for example, the initial appearance of introduced crops such as wheat and rice may not be resolvable yet. Two crops, hemp (C. sativa) and canola or rapeseed (B. rapa) reported from a few Neolithic sites in North China have not been found in the Yiluo sequence. Foxtail millet was an important crop, whereas broomcorn millet was a minor, secondary crop throughout the sequence. Broomcorn millet was probably an important insurance food in case of drought. We need to assess whether the Early Neolithic predominance of broomcorn over foxtail millet at Xinglonggou and Yuezhuang ca. 6000 cal B.C. is a regional phenomenon or whether broomcorn millet was domesticated earlier than foxtail millet. No occupations contemporary with these sites are known in the Yiluo valley. However, we suspect that the predominance of foxtail millet relative to broomcorn millet was established by the Late Peiligang/Early Yangshao. Rice was not domesticated in the Huanghe valley but was apparently used in the Yiluo region by Late Yangshao times as evidenced at Zhaocheng. Rice has occasionally been reported from other Yangshao contexts in North China, but none of these specimens has been AMS-dated. Its Yangshao association is feasible because it was as far north as Yuezhuang in Shandong by 6000–5800 cal B.C. AMS dates on rice clearly associate the crop with Longshan occupations at both Huizui in this study and the Liangchengzhen site in Shandong (9). If rice was a valuable commodity, it may have been consumed primarily by the elite lineages living at the largest towns that so far are the only sites with rice in the Yiluo region. However, large sites with rice are situated in the lowlands close to wetlands where rice could have been grown productively, so rice may have been a resource available mainly in these locales. More extensive sampling will help answer such questions related to the distribution and importance of rice in the region.

Wheat, the only crop in the Yiluo samples not native to East Asia, appears during the Erligang (Early Shang) period and was probably a significant crop by then. It is a rare component of Longshan period crop assemblages in Shandong (9) and elsewhere, so we surmise that it was grown in the Yiluo region during the Longshan period as well. More sampling should resolve this issue. Soybean is also a minor component of the Yiluo plant remains from Longshan times onward. Soybean domestication is an unresolved problem, with historic and archaeological data hinting that it was present from the Xia period (equivalent to the Erlitou period) and domesticated by the Zhou period. Where it was domesticated, or whether there were multiple domestications, are unanswered questions. Beefsteak plant, a potential cultigen, is rare but was also present by Erligang times. There is a limited record of this plant for the Late Neolithic period elsewhere (9). A wide range of annual weeds consistent with agricultural land disturbance and possibly fodder for domesticated animals is a component of all assemblages in the region.

Differences in site function and/or taphonomy are suggested by the contrast in seed densities between small and large sites. The highest seed densities are found at small sites, particularly from the Late Yangshao and later periods from which we have substantial samples. Crops are found in higher densities in small sites, but small Late Longshan and Erlitou sites have higher proportions and densities of crops than do larger sites. In contrast, all other artifact classes are common in the larger sites, indicating that craft production and administration occurred only in large settlements. Future research will examine this issue closely by broader sampling of a variety of contexts, particularly to test the possibility that some form of redistributive system that moved products from specialized production centers has a long history in the region. The archaeological record indicates, in fact, that social complexity was well developed by Late Yangshao times in the Yiluo valley (3). Site functions were apparently becoming specialized by the Late Yangshao; smaller settlements may have functioned mainly for agricultural production. Future research will assess whether crops were a component of the redistributive system. However, crops were probably produced as well as consumed at the large sites. Late Longshan agriculture at the large and complex Liangchengzhen and Shantaisi sites to the east have a wide variety of plant remains that vary in composition depending on their context. The same situation likely holds true in the Yiluo valley. The Yiluo plant remains are generally similar to those from both Shantaisi and Liangchengzhen with respect to both weeds and crops, suggesting that food production throughout North China shared many features. Another similarity lies in the limited evidence for the use of nuts and fleshy fruits. These and other questions pertaining to the relationship between plants and people in the Yiluo valley will be more adequately tested in the excavation phase of the project.

Materials and Methods
The Yiluo team systematically surveyed 219 km2 of alluvial plains and loess terraces (Fig. 1) (3). Sediment samples were collected from each site. Assemblages of plant remains tend to vary by context, so every reasonable effort was made to minimize the impact of contextual variation on this stage of the study by sampling the same type of context at each site. Sites are often buried 0.5–2 m below the surface, but pit features visible in vertical cuts of the loess terraces enabled the collection of samples from pits representing domestic contexts (SI Fig. 16). Pit fill normally represents secondary deposition (i.e., infill of general sediment and refuse resulting from a variety of activities by the site occupants). Thus, such samples are ideal for intersite comparisons of a general nature. Samples were collected from one to seven pits at each site depending on the number that was visible. To some extent, the soil volume collected is proportional to the number and complexity of sites in each period (Fig. 4). Individual sample volumes are proportional to the size of each pit and range from 3 to 14 liters of sediment. The relatively small sample from each site limits interpretations to discussions of fundamental similarities and differences among the assemblages. One variable that is affected by the sample size is the number of plant taxa recovered. The number of taxa in the samples exhibits a positive correlation with sample volume (Fig. 6), so small samples tend to contain fewer plant taxa and few or no examples of plants that are rare in the collection as a whole. Details of the flotation process are available elsewhere (22), and sample processing procedures are described in SI Text.

I always associated China with rice. It’s interesting that it wasn’t their first crop. Domesticated rice first appears in Korea about 13,000 years ago. From my previous entry, it seems to have a genetic origin in the Yangzte river area. It’s quite possible that the original domestication site is underwater, as large areas of South East Asia are underwater, mostly the fertlile lowland areas wher rice would have grown, which would have put the Yangtze river delta quite close to Korea