Evolving Rice Cultivation Systems: Early Results from the Lower Yangtze

Start: May 09, 2013 05:30 PM

Location: Room 612, Institute of Archaeology

Evolving Rice Cultivation Systems: Early Results from the Lower Yangtze

Alison Weisskopf (UCL) will give the first International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) China Night Lecture of Term III, 2012/13 at the Institute on 9 May.   


The Early Rice Project, at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, is clarifying the origins of Asian rice agriculture. Rice can be cultivated in a range of arable systems, including upland rain fed, lowland irrigated and deep water. This project aims to reconstruct early rice cultivation systems, and to better establish how ancient arable rice systems may be seen using archaeobotanical data.

One method is by building modern analogues using associated crop weeds, and phytolith morphotypes found within each type of cultivation regime. Different cultivation systems produce different flora assemblages. Rice weeds and sediment samples have been recorded and collected from a variety of arable systems in India, China, Thailand and Laos to produce modern analogues. These have been used to analyse archaeological samples.

Investigations of archaeological phytoliths from the Lower Yangtze region of China are revealing how the cultivation of rice changed over time, with early cultivation in small, irregular, dug-out paddy fields in the Lower Yangtze from c.4000 BC, providing a means for the careful control of water conditions.


Alison specialises in phytolith research with a focus on the development of agricultural systems. She recently completed research on the Institute's NERC-funded Early Rice project and returns to the Institute to work on the follow-up project on the evolution of rice systems from China to Southeast Asia.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception in Staff Common Room and all are welcome!  China Night events are free and open to the public (booking is not required unless otherwise stated).

Any enquiries about China Night events may be directed to the ICCHA Administrator.