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Transitions from Foraging to Farming in Ancient China and Beyond: An Archaeobotanical Perspective


Archaeobotany Symposium 2017

April 21-23, Stanford Archaeology Center Building 500



Agriculture originated independently at least twice in China, making this region an important player in the global study of agricultural origins. While many aspects of the nature of this transition remain unclear, new sites, new fieldwork at known sites, and new analytical techniques are continually improving our understanding of the prehistory of farming. Archaeobotanical research forms a major component of this ongoing work. In order to provide a platform for international scholarly exchange on this topic, the Stanford Archaeology Center hosted a symposium titled “Transitions from Foraging to Farming in Ancient China and Beyond: An Archaeobotanical Perspective” from April 21-23, 2017.

The symposium included nineteen scholar participants from institutions in the US, China, Canada, the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands. Scholars presented new ideas and new findings, and engaged in lively discussion and debate. Presentations focused on the origins of and transitions to agriculture and domestication with a focus on China, but incorporating other world regions. Some of the topics discussed included archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence of millet and rice farming, and the types of theoretical and methodological frameworks used to interpret evidence of agriculture and diet.

In commemoration of Professor Ofer Bar-Yosef (1937-2020) and Dr. Alison Weisskopf (1960-2018).



W. Ge, S. Yang, Y. Chen, S. Dong, T. Jiao, M. Wang, M. Wu, Y. Huang, X. Fan, X. Yin, Y. Zhang, Q. TanInvestigating the late Neolithic millet agriculture in Southeast China: new multidisciplinary evidences Quat. Int. (2019)

Jones et al., 2019 R.K. Jones, P.J. Piper, C.P. Groves, T. Nguyễn Anh, M.H. Nguyễn Thi, H. Nguyễn Thị, T. Hiep Hoang, M.F. OxenhamShifting subsistence patterns from the terminal pleistocene to late Holocene: a regional southeast Asian analysis Quat. Int. (2019),

Kealhofer and Marsh, 2019 L. Kealhofer, B. MarshAgricultural impact and political economy: niche construction in the Gordion region, central Anatolia Quat. Int. (2019),


Lee et al., 2019 G.A. Lee, M.S. Cho, H. ObataCoastal farmers during the early and middle Holocene: archaeobotanical and grain impression studies on the east coast of Korea

Quat. Int. (2019)

Levin, 2019 M.J. LevinPrehistoric agricultural transformations in tropical Remote Oceania: towards comprehensive phytolith analysis Quat. Int. (2019),  

Li et al., 2019 W. Li, C. Tsoraki, W. Lan, Y. Yang, J. Zhang, A. van GijnNew insights into the grinding tools used by the earliest farmers in the central plain of China Quat. Int. (2019)


Liu et al., 2019 L. Liu, N. Duncan, X. Chen, J. CuiExploitation of job's tears in Paleolithic and Neolithic China: methodological problems and solutions Quat. Int. (2019)

Liu et al., 2018 L. Liu, M.J. Levin, M.F. Bonomo, J. Wang, J. Shi, X. Chen, J. Han, Y. SongHarvesting and processing wild cereals in the upper palaeolithic Yellow river valley, China

Antiquity, 92 (363) (2018), pp. 603-619

Price and Bar-Yosef, 2011 T.D. Price, O. Bar-YosefThe origins of agriculture: new data, new ideas Curr. Anthropol. (Supplement 4) (2011), pp. S163-S164

Wang et al., 2019 J. Wang, X. Zhao, H. Wang, L. LiuPlant exploitation of the first farmers in Northwest China: microbotanical evidence from Dadiwan

Quat. Int. (2019)

J. ZhangThe Site Report of Jiahu Science Press, Beijing (2015)

Zhang et al., 2019 Z. Zhang, Z. Chen, F. Marshall, H. Lü, X. Lemoine, T. Wangyal, T. Dorje, X. LiuThe importance of localized hunting of diverse animals to early inhabitants of the eastern Tibetan plateau at Xiaoenda Quat. Int. (2019)



This symposium was co-sponsored by the Stanford Archaeology Center; the Confucius Institute, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

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