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Primitive Rice Seeds Found Further North in China


Chinese archaeologists have recently found primitive rice seeds and ancient farm tools in central China, further north than the long-believed origin of rice at Yangtze River valley in south China.

Recent discovery in Wuyang County, central China's Henan province, proves that about 9,000 years ago, people living there had created quite advanced rice-raising technique.

The upper reaches of Huaihe River was probably one of the sources of China's rice agriculture, said Zhang Juzhong, a professor from Chinese University of Science and Technology, also head of the archaeological team.

If it is true, that means a great achievement of Chinese agricultural development, said Zhang, adding that it is of great importance to the research about the origin and dissemination of rice in China, as well as to the study about the development of rice agriculture in China.

However, he did not rule out the possibility that the rice agriculture in central China was introduced from south China.

The new findings include relics of rice grains, carbonized rice and whole sets of farm tools such as stone shovels, sickles, axes, knives, saddle-querns and rollers.

With new technique, the experts also selected some well-preserved husked rice by floatation process. According to their shape, these seeds were in the process of cultivation, evolving from primitive rice to round-grained nonglutinous rice.

These findings not only shows the importance of rice agriculture to the people living along Huaihe River 9,000 years ago, but also contribute a lot to the research about economy and social division of labor of that community, said archaeologists.

It is a long-held view that rice agriculture is the character of Yangtze River area in south China, but the discovery in Jiahu relics site of Wuyang County changes this traditional view.

The level of cultivation of rice in Jiahu obviously is higher than that of the same period in Yangtze River area, archaeologists said.

Huaihe River, flowing from west to east and between the Yellow River in the north and the Yangtze River in the south, is originated in the Tongbo Mountains in Henan Province. The river is regarded as one demarcation lines between north and south China.

Archaeologists also examined the unearthed plant seeds including legumes, hawthorns and grapes and fish bones so as to know the economical situation and people's diet structure of that age.

From April to June this year, under the authorization of State Bureau of Cultural Heritage, Chinese University of Science and Technology, Archaeological Institute of Henan Province, and Museum of Wuyang County cooperated in the seventh excavation of the Jiahu relic site.

Jiahu, with a history of 7,800 to 9,000 years, is a very important archaeological site of early Neolithic age. In the 1980s, six times of archaeological excavations have been conducted here, with the discovery of bone flutes with seven musical scales, groups of tortoise shells and primitive engraved characters.

This year Jiahu relic site is elected as one of "China's Top 100 Archaeological Discovery in the 20th Century."

(Xinhua News Agency 07/17/2001)

In This Series

Jiyuan -- Origin of Chinese Culture

Chinese Dragon Originates From Primitive Agriculture

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