Rice, Millets, Social Complexity and the Spread of Millet Agriculture to the Chengdu Plain and Southwest China
D'Alpoim Guedes, Jade
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The Chengdu plain of south-west China lies outside the main centres of early domestication in the Huanghe and Yangzi valleys, but its importance in Chinese prehistory is demonstrated by the spectacular Sanxingdui bronzes of the second millennium BC and by the number of walled enclosures of the third millennium BC associated with the Baodun culture. The latter illustrate the development of social complexity. Paradoxically, however, these are not the outcome of a long settled agricultural history but appear to be associated with the movement of the first farming communities into this region. Recent excavations at the Baodun type site have recovered plant remains indicating not only the importance of rice cultivation, but also the role played by millet in the economy of these and other sites in south-west China. Rice cultivation in paddy fields was supplemented by millet cultivation in neighbouring uplands. Together they illustrate how farmers moving into this area from the Middle Yangzi adjusted their cultivation practices to adapt to their newly colonised territories.