Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-118
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2022-118
 
08 Jun 2022
08 Jun 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Holocene spatiotemporal millet agricultural patterns in northern China: A dataset of archaeobotanical macroremains

Keyang He1, Houyuan Lu1,2,3, Jianping Zhang1,2, and Can Wang4 Keyang He et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 2Innovation Academy for Earth Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100029, China
  • 3College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100049, China
  • 4School of History and Culture, Shandong University, Jinan, 250100, China

Abstract. Millet agriculture, i.e., broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) and foxtail millet (Setaria italica), were initially originated in northern China and provided the basis for the emergence of the first state in the Central Plains. However, owing to the lack of a comprehensive archaeobotanical dataset, when, where, and how these two millet types evolved across different regions and periods remains unclear. Here, we presented a dataset of archaeobotanical macroremains (n = 538) spanning the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in northern China and suggested a significant spatiotemporal divergence of millet agriculture in the subhumid mid-lower Yellow River (MLY) and semiarid agro-pastoral ecotone (APE). The key timing of the diffusion and transition of millet agriculture occurred around 6000 cal. a BP, coinciding with the Holocene Optimum and Miaodigou Age. It spread westward and northward from the MLY to the APE and underwent a dramatic transition from low-yield broomcorn millet to high-yield foxtail millet. The combined influence of warm-wet climate, population pressure, and field management may have promoted the intensification, diffusion, and transition of millet agriculture around 6000 cal. a BP. Thereafter, the cropping patterns in the MLY were predominated by foxtail millet (~ 80 %), while those in the APE emphasized on both foxtail (~ 60 %) and broomcorn millet under a persistent drying trend since the mid-Holocene. This study provided the first quantitative spatiotemporal cropping patterns during the Neolithic and Bronze Age in northern China, which can be used for evaluating prehistoric human subsistence, discussing past human-environment interaction, and providing a valuable perspective of agricultural sustainability for the future. The dataset is publicly available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6410368 (He et al., 2022)

Keyang He et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on essd-2022-118', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Jun 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on essd-2022-118', Anonymous Referee #2, 22 Jun 2022
  • AC3: 'Comment on essd-2022-118', Keyang He, 05 Aug 2022

Keyang He et al.

Data sets

A dataset of archaeobotanical macroremains (staple crops) during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in northern China He, Keyang; Lu, Hoyuan; Zhang, Jianping; Wang, Can https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6410368

Keyang He et al.

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Short summary
Here we presented the first quantitative spatiotemporal cropping patterns spanning the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in northern China. Temporally, millet agriculture underwent a dramatic transition from low-yield broomcorn to high-yield foxtail millet around 6000 cal. a BP under the influence of climate and population. Spatially, millet agriculture spread westward and northward from the mid-lower Yellow River to the agro-pastoral ecotone around 6000 cal. a BP and diversified afterwards.