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Presumed Domestication? Evidence For Wild Rice Cultivation And Domestication In The Fifth Millennium BC Of The Lower Yangtze Region

Dorian Q Fuller, Emma Harvey, Ling Qin

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Prompted by a recent article by Jiang and Liu in Antiquity (80, 2006), Dorian Fuller and his co-authors return to the question of rice cultivation and consider some of the difficulties involved in identifying the transition from wild to domesticated rice. Using data from Eastern China, they propose that, at least for the Lower Yangtze region, the advent of rice domestication around 4000 BC was preceded by a phase of pre-domestication cultivation that began around 5000 BC. This rice, together with other subsistence foods like nuts, acorns and waterchestnuts, was gathered by sedentary hunter-gatherer-foragers. The implications for sedentism and the spread of agriculture as a long term process are discussed.