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Water Management And Agricultural Intensification Of Rice Farming At The Late-Neolithic Site Of Maoshan, Lower Yangtze River, China

Yijie Zhuang, Pin Ding, Charles French

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Intensifying water management for rice farming and related land use involves increasing labour investment in transforming local landscapes. By applying geoarchaeological investigation at the well-preserved late-Neolithic rice paddy site of Maoshan, Lower Yangtze River, during the excavation, this study provides detailed information of the changing relationship between water management, agricultural intensification, environmental change and social evolution during the critical time period of the late Holocene. It illustrates that the intensification of rice farming was facilitated by successful water management and landscape management in most time, and it was the combined effect of gradually increasing aridity, fluctuating sea-level patterns and increasing labour investment in water management that led to the eventual abandonment of the paddy field at the end of the Neolithic in this region. This study therefore draws attention from large-scale sites to small-scale, but economically important, sites in enhancing our understanding of the dynamic relationship between human societies and environmental changes during the late Holocene in this region.