Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9635
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleWang, Jiajing, Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Rice Domestication in the Lower Yangtze Valley: From a Luxury Food to a Mundane Staple?,' supervised by Dr. Li Liu
JIAJING WANG, then a graduate student at Stanford University, Stanford, California, was awarded a grant in April 2018 to aid research on “Rice Domestication in the Lower Yangtze Valley: From a Luxury Food to a Mundane Staple?,” supervised by Dr. Li Liu. The transition to agriculture is one of the most consequential events in human history. Rice agriculture is known to have originated from the Lower Yangtze River, but the mechanisms of its occurrence remain unclear. This research aims to understand this transition by applying residue analysis to examine the grinding stones and pottery from the Shangshan culture (11,400 -8,600 BP). Results show that the majority of the artifacts were used to process acorns, whereas rice was a minor component in the overall subsistence. Petrographic data, however, indicate that rice was an essential tempering material for pottery making. These findings suggest that the increased acorn resources in the early Holocene attracted humans to settle down in specific locales and began a “mass-production” of grinding stones and pottery. Rice was originated as a minor food supplement and an important pottery temper; later a series of intensification events transformed the crop into a staple food. Departing from the anthropocentric approaches that consider plant domestication as a human strategy to produce sustenance, this research emphasizes how the active agencies of tools and plants “trapped” humans into a sedentary farming life with labor-demanding activities.