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Ref ID: 30127
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Hu, Yaowu
Ambrose, Stanley H.
Wang, Changsui
Title: Stable isotopic analysis of human bones from Jianhu site, Henan, China: implications for the transition of agriculture
Date: 2006
Source: Journal of Archaeological Science
Abstract: We have investigated change in subsistence during the transition to agriculture in the site of Jiahu, Henan Province, China, using stable isotopic analysis of collagen and apatite in human bones. Millet agriculture is well documented at drier high latitudes of the Yellow River Valley, while rice agriculture predominated at wetter lower latitudes of the Yangtze Valley region. The early Neolithic site of Jiahu lies near the boundary between the drier north and wetter south. Archaeobotanical evidence shows that rice was a significant component of diet at Jiahu, but its d13C value is similar to that of other foods, and therefore cannot be conclusively identified by carbon isotope analysis. Foxtail and broomcorn millets are the only C4 crops known for the Chinese Neolithic. Because of their high d13C values, their consumption can be evaluated by stable carbon isotope analysis of human bone. Collagen reflects mainly the d13C value of dietary protein, and apatite accurately records that of the whole diet. Isotopic analysis of 15 well-preserved samples from three periods shows that collagen d13C values were very low for almost all individuals, suggesting C3-based foods dominated their diets. However, apatite carbonate d13C values and d13C spacing between collagen and apatite (D13Cap-co) indicate that millet may have been a minor component of the diet in this region. Individuals, who consumed the smallest amounts of animal protein, as indicated by low d15N, generally had the highest apatite d13C values. Archaeobotanical evidence for millet at Jiahu is needed to support this interpretation. Higher rainfall during the early Holocene may have favored rice agriculture, and the drier climate of the middle Holocene may have favored millets cultivation. However, no clear diachronic trends were observed between 9000 and 7800 BP at Jiahu. Therefore larger numbers of individuals from each phase at Jiahu and other sites are needed to evaluate temporal trends in Neolithic diet, and their relation to climate change, and social factors.
Date Created: 1/4/2007
Volume: 33
Number: 9
Page Start: 1319
Page End: 1330