Special Issue "Advances in East Asian Agricultural Origins Studies: The Pleistocene to Holocene Transition"

A special issue of Quaternary (ISSN 2571-550X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 June 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Pei-Lin Yu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Anthropology, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, USA
Interests: horticulture; ethnoarchaeology; Taiwan; Neolithic SE Asia
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Ikeya Kazunobu
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Modern Society and Civilization, National Museum of Ethnology, Suita, Osaka 565-8511, Japan
Interests: hunter-gatherers; sedentarization; social changes; beads
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Meng Zhang
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA
Interests: lithic technology; hunter-gatherer archaeology & anthropology; ethnoarchaeology; Chinese archaeology & anthropology; modernization in China; visual anthropology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Scientific understanding about domestication and the origins of food production in East Asia is undergoing rapid change based on new data from archeology, paleobiology, and paleoenvironmental studies. The earliest agricultural and pastoral societies emerged from the highly diverse habitats and Paleolithic cultures of East Asia. This offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand and predict variability in the tempo and mode of the Paleolithic to Neolithic transition. Advances in East Asian Agricultural Origins Studies: The Pleistocene to Holocene Transition aims to present the most advanced research from the varied regions of East Asia, with the purpose of evaluating the significance of Paleolithic cultural influences on the transition to Neolithic adaptations by comparing cultural evolutionary scenarios through time and across space. The array of approaches will be multidisciplinary, featuring quantitative, qualitative, and integrated data and methodologies. Understanding the transition from foraging to Neolithic agriculture, which was among the most dramatic and influential in the history of modern Homo sapiens, has ramifications for the study of the Late Quaternary growth of human populations, societal complexity, landscape use, migration, and impacts on ecosystems.

Dr. Pei-Lin Yu
Prof. Dr. Ikeya Kazunobu
Dr. Meng Zhang
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Quaternary is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • plant domestication
  • food production
  • agricultural and pastoral societies
  • cultural evolution
  • Late Quaternary
  • East Asia

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Ethnoarchaeology of Introducing Agriculture and Social Continuity among Sedentarised Hunter–Gatherers: The Transition from the Jomon to the Yayoi Period
Quaternary 2021, 4(3), 28; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4030028 - 14 Sep 2021
Viewed by 636
Abstract
This study was conducted to elucidate the introduction of agriculture and social continuity from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, from an ethnoarchaeological perspective. The Yayoi period has been divided into two types: a broad spectrum economy that relied on many kinds of [...] Read more.
This study was conducted to elucidate the introduction of agriculture and social continuity from the Jomon to the Yayoi period, from an ethnoarchaeological perspective. The Yayoi period has been divided into two types: a broad spectrum economy that relied on many kinds of resources, such as rice, millet, and nuts, and a selective economy that specialised in rice and wild boar. However, it is not clear how the livelihoods shifted from the Jomon to the Yayoi period. In this study, ethnohistorical materials were examined first. Ethnohistorical reference materials gathered worldwide have revealed three relationships between hunter–gatherers and farmers: coexistence, fusion, and assimilation. Focusing on fusion, this study examined situations of hunting, gathering, and fishing, as inferred from ruins of the Late and Final Jomon period, and assessed their relationships with agriculture using ethnohistorical reference materials of the Early Edo period. There were not many social changes caused by the introduction of field farming; however, the introduction of paddy rice cultivation had different effects on society depending on the level of investment in obtaining water from streams and springs and creating irrigation features. Full article
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Article
Early Grain Cultivation and Starting Processes in the Japanese Archipelago
Quaternary 2021, 4(1), 3; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat4010003 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1404
Abstract
This paper presents a specific examination of the introduction of grain cultivation and the processes of development in the Japanese Archipelago. In fact, no definitive archaeological evidence has been found that Jomon hunter–gatherers cultivated grain in the Japanese Archipelago; the earliest potential evidence [...] Read more.
This paper presents a specific examination of the introduction of grain cultivation and the processes of development in the Japanese Archipelago. In fact, no definitive archaeological evidence has been found that Jomon hunter–gatherers cultivated grain in the Japanese Archipelago; the earliest potential evidence of grain is a stamp mark of rice on the surface of a final late-Jomon, in about 11th century BC, pottery found at the Itaya 3 site in Shimane Prefecture. Current evidence indicates that the first grain cultivation was started by Jomon people who adopted irrigated wet rice cultivation that had arrived from the Korean Peninsula to northern parts of Kyushu, and gradually spread eastward thereafter. This study specifically examines four regions, including northern Kyushu, Kinki, southern Kanto, and northern Tohoku, in order to investigate the processes of grain cultivation initiation and spread. First, the years during which wet rice cultivation started in each region are estimated based on carbon-14 dating of earthenware types used during that period. Secondly, the timing of the spread of wet rice cultivation has been estimated based on carbon-14 dating of earthenware. Subsequently, differences in the periods between the initiation and dissemination of wet rice cultivation were estimated. Results suggest that dissemination took place over approximately 250 years in northern Kyushu, where wet rice cultivation first started. The time required for adoption decreased gradually as the trend moved eastward. It was estimated to have taken approximately 150 years in Kinki and 20–30 years in southern Kanto, taking place at about the same time. A factor, significantly contributing to such differences in timing and development processes among regions, was likely the relationship between the first farmers who introduced wet rice farming and the indigenous hunter–gatherers who lived there. Full article
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Article
Alternative Adaptation Strategy during the Paleolithic–Neolithic Transition: Potential Use of Aquatic Resources in the Western Middle Yangtze Valley, China
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 28; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat3030028 - 21 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1193
Abstract
The middle Yangtze Valley is an important region for studying the origin of rice agriculture. Archaeological remains of rice have been found in sites such as Pengtoushan and Bashidang as early as 8000 years ago. However, we know little about the adaptive diversity [...] Read more.
The middle Yangtze Valley is an important region for studying the origin of rice agriculture. Archaeological remains of rice have been found in sites such as Pengtoushan and Bashidang as early as 8000 years ago. However, we know little about the adaptive diversity in this region as research has mostly focused on rice cultivation. With the help of new discoveries, this paper explores another adaptation behavior pattern that emphasizes the utilization of aquatic resources in the western part of the Jianghan Plain during the Paleolithic–Neolithic transition. Although the sea level was continuously rising with the warming process of early Holocene, the lakes that later became widely distributed were still in formation, thus not available for human utilization in the middle Yangtze Valley. However, most notably, the amelioration of the environment was producing a sort of new niche: utilizing aquatic resources became possible at least in parts of this region. A case study from the Guanzhou Site, based on lithics, suggests there were increasing demands for the utilization of aquatic resources. The study proposes that at least two different adaptation strategy changes occurred in the western Jianghan Plain during the Paleolithic–Neolithic transition, i.e., rice agriculture or complex hunting–gathering. These strategies represent adaptations to the different ecological conditions at the crossroads of habitat types. Full article
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Article
Modeling Incipient Use of Neolithic Cultigens by Taiwanese Foragers: Perspectives from Niche Variation Theory, the Prey Choice Model, and the Ideal Free Distribution
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 26; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat3030026 - 07 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1280
Abstract
The earliest evidence for agriculture in Taiwan dates to about 6000 years BP and indicates that farmer-gardeners from Southeast China migrated across the Taiwan Strait. However, little is known about the adaptive interactions between Taiwanese foragers and Neolithic Chinese farmers during the transition. [...] Read more.
The earliest evidence for agriculture in Taiwan dates to about 6000 years BP and indicates that farmer-gardeners from Southeast China migrated across the Taiwan Strait. However, little is known about the adaptive interactions between Taiwanese foragers and Neolithic Chinese farmers during the transition. This paper considers theoretical expectations from human behavioral ecology based models and macroecological patterning from Binford’s hunter-gatherer database to scope the range of responses of native populations to invasive dispersal. Niche variation theory and invasion theory predict that the foraging niche breadths will narrow for native populations and morphologically similar dispersing populations. The encounter contingent prey choice model indicates that groups under resource depression from depleted high-ranked resources will increasingly take low-ranked resources upon encounter. The ideal free distribution with Allee effects categorizes settlement into highly ranked habitats selected on the basis of encounter rates with preferred prey, with niche construction potentially contributing to an upswing in some highly ranked prey species. In coastal plain habitats preferred by farming immigrants, interactions and competition either reduced encounter rates with high ranked prey or were offset by benefits to habitat from the creation of a mosaic of succession ecozones by cultivation. Aquatic-focused foragers were eventually constrained to broaden subsistence by increasing the harvest of low ranked resources, then mobility-compatible Neolithic cultigens were added as a niche-broadening tactic. In locations less suitable for farming, fishing and hunting continued as primary foraging tactics for centuries after Neolithic arrivals. The paper concludes with a set of evidence-based archaeological expectations derived from these models. Full article
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Article
The Climate Fluctuation of the 8.2 ka BP Cooling Event and the Transition into Neolithic Lifeways in North China
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 23; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat3030023 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1487
Abstract
Early Neolithic lifeways in North China, which are marked by a low-level food production economy, population aggregation, and sedentism, thrived just after the period of a climatic cooling event at 8.2 ka. Instead of simply regarding this climate fluctuation as a cause for [...] Read more.
Early Neolithic lifeways in North China, which are marked by a low-level food production economy, population aggregation, and sedentism, thrived just after the period of a climatic cooling event at 8.2 ka. Instead of simply regarding this climate fluctuation as a cause for the significant socio-economic transition, this paper attempts to explore the interplay between people’s choices of coping strategies with climate change as a perspective to learn how people respond to this climate fluctuation and how such responses generated the interlocked socio-economic transitions. This analysis indicates that pre-existing changes in human adaptive behaviors prior to the cooling events were sufficient to enable people in certain areas to apply the intensification of food procurement in circumscribed territories as a strategy to cope with the climate fluctuations of the 8.2 ka BP cooling event. The application of such a coping strategy facilitated the economic and sociopolitical transition into Neolithic lifeways and led to the flourishing development of Neolithic cultures after 8 ka BP in North China. Full article
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Article
Microblade–Based Societies in North China at the End of the Ice Age
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 20; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat3030020 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1211
Abstract
One of the most prominent cultural changes during the end of Ice Age in northeastern Asia was the adoption of microblade technology by prehistoric hunter–gatherers to deal with the challenge brought by the climate deterioration and oscillation during and post the Last Glacial [...] Read more.
One of the most prominent cultural changes during the end of Ice Age in northeastern Asia was the adoption of microblade technology by prehistoric hunter–gatherers to deal with the challenge brought by the climate deterioration and oscillation during and post the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). The Pleistocene to Holocene transition in North China witnessed the rise of broader spectrum subsistence alongside a series of cultural changes, including adoption of food production, highly mobile lifeways being replaced by sedentism, and the formation of new social organization based on their agricultural land–use patterns. From the perspective of technological change, this project aims to build a socio–ecological framework to examine the cultural change of prehistoric microblade–based societies. In contrast to previous studies, the present research employs a macroecological approach based on Binford’s Constructing Frames of Reference (2001) to reconstruct the behaviors and demography of prehistoric foraging groups, under both modern and LGM climate conditions. Three case studies are conducted to show cultural and technological changes among microblade–based societies in North China during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition. Full article
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Review

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Review
Rethinking the Disappearance of Microblade Technology in the Terminal Pleistocene of Hokkaido, Northern Japan: Looking at Archaeological and Palaeoenvironmental Evidence
Quaternary 2020, 3(3), 21; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/quat3030021 - 20 Jul 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1631
Abstract
Archaeological research, for several decades, has shown that various microblade technologies using obsidian and hard shale appeared and developed from the Last Glacial Maximum to the terminal Pleistocene (Bølling–Allerød–Younger Dryas) in Hokkaido, Northern Japan. It is well accepted that microblade technology was closely [...] Read more.
Archaeological research, for several decades, has shown that various microblade technologies using obsidian and hard shale appeared and developed from the Last Glacial Maximum to the terminal Pleistocene (Bølling–Allerød–Younger Dryas) in Hokkaido, Northern Japan. It is well accepted that microblade technology was closely related to the high mobility of foragers to adapt to harsh environments. Recent archaeological and palaeoenvironmental evidence from Hokkaido demonstrates that the disappearance of microblade technology occurred during the terminal Pleistocene, influenced by a wide range of factors, including changes in landscape, climate, subsistence and human populations. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of the current state of research on the process and background of the disappearance of microblade technology and to discuss prospects for future research. This paper will (1) review palaeoenvironmental research in Hokkaido on changes in climate and biological composition from the terminal Pleistocene to the initial Holocene; (2) survey changes in the technological adaptations and resource use of humans based on the archaeological evidence; and (3) discuss how the abrupt fluctuations of climate that occurred in the terminal Pleistocene affected human behaviour and demographics in Hokkaido. Full article
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