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Zhang, J., Lu, H., Wu, N., Li, F., Yang, X., Wang, W., Ma, M. & Zhang, X. 2010: Phytolith evidence for rice cultivation and spread in Mid-Late Neolithic archaeological sites in central North China. Boreas, Vol. 39, pp. 592–602. 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2010.00145.x. ISSN 0300-9483.

The history of rice (Oryza sativa) cultivation in North China is ambiguous owing to a lack of evidence from rice remains with precise ages in archaeological sites. In this paper, we present rice phytolith evidence from six archaeological sites in the Guanzhong Basin, central North China, dating from c. 5500 to 2100 cal. a BP (calibrated/calendar ages) based on 19 AMS-dates. The phytoliths found in the three archaeological sites located on the second river terrace (Quanhu, Yangguanzhai and Anban) include three types of phytoliths from rice, namely bulliform, parallel-bilobe and double-peaked. These findings suggest that the earliest cultivated rice in central North China occurred not later than c. 5690 cal. a BP. After c. 5500 cal. a BP, the farming pattern in the Guanzhong Basin was characterized by dominant dry crops (e.g. millets) and locally cultivated rice. A likely spread route of rice from the lower reaches of the Huanghe (Yellow) River towards the Guanzhong Basin in central North China is speculated to have happened at c. 5690 cal. a BP. The findings of this study help us to understand the farming pattern in the area and how rice spread across the semi-arid regions of East Asia.