Origins of Agriculture and Sedentary Communities in Northeast China

Participants surveying the land

Prof. Gidon Shelach

The project Origins of Agriculture and Sedentary Communities in Northeast China addresses the development of agriculture and sedentary ways of life, two interrelated processes that revolutionized human subsistence strategies, dietary habits and living conditions. At the same time, they are also associated with meaningful transformations of social relations and cultural formations that dramatically changed the nature of human societies and set the stage for the development of complex societies. Surprisingly, though, of the handful of centers of independent agricultural development in the world, China is the only one for which we cannot reconstruct a full trajectory from hunter-gatherer societies to agricultural communities. Through a field work in the Fuxin (阜新) area, western Liaoning province, we hope to accumulate archaeological data that will help filling this gap in our knowledge of China’s past and will be instrumental in better understanding one of the most important processes in the history of Chinese Civilization and the development of human society in large.

Our field work including systematic and intensive regional surveys as well as targeted excavations in a selection of early Neolithic and Pre-Neolithic sites discovered by such surveys.  It brings together archaeologists and students from theResearch Center of Chinese Frontier Archaeology at Jilin University, the Hebrew University, and the Liaoning Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics.  The research is funded with grants from the National Geographic Society (grant no. 8614-09) and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 502\11).