Research Articles

Cultural evolution and spatial-temporal distribution of archaeological sites from 9.5-2.3 ka BP in the Yan-Liao region, China

  • YUAN Yuying
  • College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China

Author: Yuan Yuying (1993-), PhD Candidate, specialized in human-environment interaction and historical geography. E-mail:

Received date: 2017-04-18

  Accepted date: 2017-10-16

  Online published: 2019-03-20

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371148

Major Program of National Social Science Fund of China, No.13&ZD082


Journal of Geographical Sciences, All Rights Reserved


With basic information from 8353 archaeological sites, this study describes a holistic spatial-temporal distribution pattern of archaeological sites of the prehistoric culture sequence from 9.5 ka BP (ka BP = thousands of years before 0 BP, where “0 BP” is defined as the year AD 1950) to 2.3 ka BP in the region that extends from the Yanshan Mountains to the Liaohe River Plain (i.e., the Yan-Liao region) in northern China. Based on spatial statistics analysis - including the spatial density of the sites and Geographic Information System nearest-neighbour analysis, combined with a review of environmental and climatic data - this paper analyses cultural evolution, the spatial-temporal features of the archaeological sites and human activities against the backdrop of climatic and environmental changes in this region. The results reveal that prehistoric cultural evolution in the Yan-Liao region is extensively influenced by climatic and environmental changes. The Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures, which primarily developed during a habitable period from 8.5 ka BP to 6.0 ka BP with strong summer monsoons, have similar maximum density values, spatial patterns and subsistence strategies dominated by hunting-gathering. Significant changes occurred in the Hongshan and Lower Xiajiadian cultures, with a significant increase in numbers and densities of sites and a slump in average nearest-neighbour ratio when the environment began to deteriorate starting in 6.0 ka BP. Additionally, with the onset of a weak summer monsoon and the predominance of primitive agriculture, sites of these two cultures present a different type of concentric circle-shaped pattern in space. As the environment continuously deteriorated with increasing aridity and the spread of steppe, more sites were distributed towards the south, and primitive agriculture was replaced by livestock husbandry in the Upper Xiajiadian culture. The most densely populated areas of the studied cultures are centralized within a limited area. The Laohahe River and Jiaolaihe River basins formed the core area in which most archaeological sites were distributed during the strong summer monsoon period and the first few thousand years of the weak summer monsoon period.

Cite this article

YUAN Yuying . Cultural evolution and spatial-temporal distribution of archaeological sites from 9.5-2.3 ka BP in the Yan-Liao region, China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2019 , 29(3) : 449 -464 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-019-1609-y

1 Introduction

In recent years, archaeological, geographical and geological data and methods have been extensively used to study prehistoric cultural evolution, migration, the trajectory of prehistoric society, and interactions between humans and the environment (Brantingham and Gao, 2006; Tarasov et al., 2006; Zhang et al., 2007; Harrower, 2010). With the development and application of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, attempts have been made to integrate site-based archaeology with a broader landscape-scale analysis (Qiao, 2007; Han et al., 2008; Dong et al., 2012b; Guo et al., 2013; Xu et al., 2016), offering a novel approach to the study of human-environment interactions and cultural development from the standpoint of spatial analysis. In addition, studies combined with archaeobotanical and stratigraphic analysis have made valuable contributions to reconstructing the palaeoenvironment and understanding how human individuals and cultures responded to its changes (Zhang et al., 2010; Zhang et al., 2011; Dong et al., 2013; Knitter et al., 2013). These studies demonstrated that a combination of archaeological data, geographical information and GIS analysis is useful for exploring human activities and developments in prehistoric cultures in connection with the impact of environmental changes. However, most recent studies have been focused on the intra-site or sub-regional scale (e.g. Zhang et al., 2011; Li et al., 2012; Li et al., 2014). Systematic, quantitative analysis on a broader regional scale (e.g., Wagner et al., 2013) has been lacking.
In China, the Xar Moron and the Liaohe river plains are important regions where several prehistoric cultures originated. Until now, studies in this area have primarily focused on specific archaeological sites, cultures or geographical units (e.g., Xiao et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2010). Comprehensive studies on the entire region and the influence of climatic and environmental changes on the evolution and distribution characteristics of the entire prehistoric culture sequence (e.g., Wang et al., 2016) are rare. This paper seeks to contribute to this area. The study describes holistic spatial-temporal patterns of site distribution of the prehistoric culture sequence developing during 9.5-2.3 ka BP (ka BP = thousands of years before 0 BP, where “0 BP” is defined as the year AD 1950) in the region that extends from the Yanshan Mountains to the Liaohe River Plain (referred to here as the Yan-Liao region) in North China. Cultural evolution, site distribution patterns and correlations among human, environment and climate change are discussed from a broader regional and cultural perspective, with a comprehensive quantitative analysis of spatial statistics and environmental data. The methods adopted in the research can be applied into the study of other prehistoric cultures and the regional environment.

2 Study area

The study area (Figure 1) extends about 1000 km from the Yanshan Mountains to the Liaohe River Plain (the Yan-Liao region). It consists of low-elevated alluvial and loess plains, coastal lowlands surrounding the Liaodong Bay and a chain of mountain ridges and plateaus elevated from -200 m to 3000 m. The region is located on the northwestern margin of the East Asian summer monsoon area. The mean annual temperature is approximately 0-6℃ in the semi-arid northwestern part (Chifeng city and Tongliao city) with annual precipitation of 300-500 mm. Coastal mountains and plains in the semi-humid south-eastern part receive more precipitation (450-600 mm) with higher annual temperature (6-9℃). Farther from the sea, the amount of precipitation decreases substantially. Approximately 60%-70% of the precipitation occurs from June to August as the summer monsoon intensifies. Due to rainfall variability and frequent cold waves in winter, the region is vulnerable to climate change (CAS, 1984). Human activities and settlements were largely limited by water availability. According to the vegetation atlas of China (Hou, 2001), alluvial and loess plains are primarily used for crops, vegetation and fruit production, while the gentle slopes are exploited for soy, corn, sorghum, millet and wheat cultivation. During the prehistoric period, the dry western and northern plains covered with herbaceous vegetation were more suitable for pasture, while the eastern and southern plains could support agriculture with their more stable water supply.
Figure 1 Location map of the Yan-Liao region with major river systems and cities. The white circles with the letters A - F indicate sites with palaeoenvironmental records discussed in the text: A - Dunde Ice Core, B - Dali Lake, C - Hulun Lake, D - Anguli-nuur Lake, E - Chahai Site, and F - South Liaoning (39°30′N, 122°E).

3 Materials and methods

3.1 Collection of the archaeological data

The published results of three national systematic archaeological field surveys in China, which were performed in 1956, 1981 and 2007, provide the original archaeological information used in this study. In the surveys, the archaeological sites of all prehistoric and historical periods were registered. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage compiled the basic information such as location, culture type and size into the series Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics by provinces, with coarse chronologies of the sites mainly based on ceramic typology. The data of archaeological sites examined in this study were extracted from the following Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics: Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Volume (2003), Beijing Volume (2008), Liaoning Volume (2009) and Hebei Volume (2013). The chronology of and quantitative changes in the archaeological sites of the prehistoric culture sequence studied in this paper are summarized and presented in Figure 2. Although there are still some deficiencies, such as controversial periods of certain culture, rough site chronology, omission of undiscovered sites and inaccurate location of certain site, the long time span and large number of sites guarantee that most of the results and conclusions in this study are reliable.
Figure 2 Quantitative changes in the number of archaeological sites of the studied prehistoric cultures with a chronological sequence

3.2 Geospatial data

3.2.1 Primary coverage and mapping of sites
The primary topographic coverage in this study is a 30 m digital elevation model of the research area that was extracted from an Aster satellite image and slightly adjusted based on known ground control points. The major rivers and lakes were extracted from the China Historical Geographic Information System project (CHGIS, 2007). After preparation work, the archaeological and geographical data of all sites were imported into GIS. With the longitude and latitude data, the sites were plotted as points on the map in GIS. The coordinate system of each layer was adjusted according to the World Geodetic System 1984 (WGS 1984).
3.2.2 Spatial density
Since the purpose of this paper is to study the evolution and spatial-temporal distribution patterns of archaeological sites of different cultures, and the sites are small compared to the entire study region, the sites can be regarded and calculated as points scattered in space. An archaeological site represents a settlement where human lived and can be regarded as a basic unit of archaeological analysis (Chang, 1967). Thus, the density of sites indicates population density to an extent and can be used to estimate population size (Han et al., 2008; Dong et al., 2012b). The Point Density tool in GIS calculates a magnitude per unit area from point features that fall within an area around each cell. The spatial density features of sites were obtained with this tool.
3.2.3 Nearest-neighbour analysis
Spatial density analysis provides the average value of point density in a certain area but cannot show cluster features. Therefore, nearest-neighbour analysis is required. The value of the average nearest-neighbour (ANN) ratio indicates whether points are clustered (< 1), random (= 1) or dispersed (> 1) in space. It is calculated based on the average distance from each point to its nearest neighbouring point. The calculation formulas are as follows:
where ${{\bar{D}}_{O}}$ is the observed mean distance between each point and its nearest neighbour, and ${{\bar{D}}_{E}}$ is the expected mean distance for the point given in a random pattern. In the preceding equations, di is the distance between point i and its nearest neighbouring point, A is the area of a minimum enclosure and n is the total number of points.
The ANN tool in GIS, calculates not only the ANN ratio of each culture, but also the p-value - representing probability - and the z-score - representing standard deviation. The p-value and z-score are measures of statistical significance used to ascertain whether to reject the hypothesis of complete spatial randomness. The smaller that the p-value is and the larger the absolute value of the z-score is, the less likely the observed spatial pattern is the result of a random process. If the p-value is less than 0.01 and the absolute value of the z-score is larger than 2.58 (i.e., < -2.58 or > +2.58), the confidence level would be over 99% (ArcGIS, 2016).

4 Results

In total, 8353 archaeological sites of the studied prehistoric culture sequence were digitalized (Figure 3). From Figure 2, which shows quantitative changes in the number of sites in addition to the chronological and cultural sequence, it is obvious that the number of archaeological sites increased rapidly in the Hongshan culture and Lower Xiajiadian culture. Moreover, the sites of these two cultures and the Upper Xiajiadian culture are distributed across a broader area than those of the other cultures.
Figure 3 Spatial distributions of the archaeological sites of the studied prehistoric culture sequence.

4.1 Spatial density

The density analysis results reveal that the Lower Xiajiadian culture has the largest maximum density value, followed by the Hongshan culture (Table 1). The Xiaohexi, Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures have similar maximum density values (approximately 0.037 site/km²). Additionally, spatial density maps (Figure 4) were drawn for each culture. The spatial density values were classified into five classes under a unified standard with geometric intervals, which ensures that each class range has approximately the same number of sites and that the change between intervals is relatively consistent. In Figure 4, three types of spatial distribution pattern can be observed. The first type consists of the Xiaohexi, Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou, Fuhe and Xiaoheyan cultures. The Hongshan and Lower Xiajiadian cultures represent the second type while the Upper Xiajiadian culture represents the third type. The characteristics and dynamic mechanisms of the revealed spatial distribution patterns are further investigated in the following.
Table 1 Maximum density value of archaeological sites of each culture
Culture Xiaohexi Xinglongwa Zhaobaogou Fuhe
Maximum density (sites/km2) 0.0359 0.0388 0.0367 0.0371
Culture Hongshan Xiaoheyan Lower Xiajiadian Upper Xiajiadian
Maximum density (sites/km2) 0.1515 0.0491 0.5630 0.0853
Figure 4 Spatial density map of archaeological sites of each culture

4.2 Nearest-neighbour analysis

Using the ANN tool in GIS, the ANN value, p-value and z-score of each culture were calculated (Table 2). According to their critical values, the archaeological sites of all cultures exhibit clustering with the confidence levels over 99% except the Xiaohexi culture, whose sites tend to be randomly distributed. Among all cultures, the Lower Xiajiadian culture has the highest level of clustering with the highest confidence level. The Hongshan and Upper Xiajiadian cultures come second.
Table 2 Results of nearest-neighbour analysis of archaeological sites of each culture
Culture Xiaohexi Xing- longwa Zhaobaogou Fuhe Hongshan Xiaoheyan Lower
ANN 0.966 0.616 0.596 0.735 0.405 0.725 0.159 0.474
p-value 0.710 0.000 0.000 0.001 0.000 0.000 0.000 -0.000
z-score -0.372 -8.079 -7.463 -3.279 -35.069 -4.518 -116.207 -42.993

5 Discussion

5.1 Climate and environmental change between 10.0-2.0 ka BP in the Yan-Liao region

The prehistoric culture sequence studied here includes the entire Holocene Megathermal period. Because of the sensitivity of the environment to climate in this area and the drastic fluctuations in precipitation and temperature during the Holocene Megathermal period in North China (Shi et al., 1992; Yancheva et al., 2007; Avni et al., 2010), the development of local prehistoric cultures and human activities were extensively influenced by climatic and environmental changes (Xia et al., 2000; Mu et al., 2014). The significant impact of such changes on the evolution of ancient cultures in other areas has been demonstrated (Hoelzmann et al., 2001; Gao et al., 2007; Wu et al., 2010; Dong et al., 2012a). Thus, outlining the Holocene climate fluctuations in North China and environmental changes in the Yan-Liao region contributes to a better understanding and further discussion. Pollen, sedimentary and geochemical archives for this region provide background information.
Studies have demonstrated that the Holocene Megathermal in northern China began at approximately 8.5 ka BP, before which the climate was cold and dry (Feng et al., 2006). Temperature and rainfall increased dramatically since 8.5 ka BP and then gradually stabilized to a more easily habitable level (Cui and Kong, 1992; Shi et al., 1992). The variation in δ18O values (Figure 5a) collected from the Dunde Ice Core (Site A in Figure 1) records from the Qilianshan Mountains represents credible evidence of climate changes in northern China and in the Northern Hemisphere (Thompson et al., 1989; Thompson et al., 1990). The records indicate strong summer monsoons prior to 5.0 ka BP, succeeded by weak monsoon events with a decrease in temperature and precipitation in northern China. The concentrations of total organic carbon (TOC, %) and total inorganic carbon (TIC, %) of a sediment core recovered in the depocenter of Dali Lake (Site B in Figure 1) denote the balance between the water input to the lake and the evaporation of the lake water, indicating fluctuations of precipitation and humidity in the Dali Lake area (Xiao et al., 2008). Drought events, depicted as shaded bars in Figure 5b (6.6-5.8, 5.1-4.85, 4.45-3.75, 3.15-2.65 ka BP), coincide with the weak summer monsoon period in Figure 5a. Pollen data from Hulun Lake (Site C in Figure 1), northeast to the study region, suggest that drought events also occurred in relatively cold intervals (Wen et al., 2010). Pollen records from the Anguli-nuur Lake (Site D in Figure 1) in northern Hebei Province illustrate changes in the ratios of arboreal plants (AP) pollen to non-arboreal plants (NAP) pollen (Figure 5c). From approximately 6.8 ka BP to 2.0 ka BP, the pollen of conifers, primarily Pinus, and herbs was generally abundant, whilst pollen of Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia gradually increased, indicating a drop of water level. Correspondingly, the pollen of deciduous broad-leaved trees was sparse (Wang et al., 2010). Flora remains in the Chahai Site (Site E in Figure 1) prove that many deciduous broadleaved forests were present in this region before 7.0 ka BP (IALP, 2012a), indicating an increase in the number of trees during warm, humid, strong summer monsoon periods (before 6.5 ka BP and approximately 5.8-5.1 ka BP) and the expansion of steppe during cool, arid, weak summer monsoon periods (after 5.1 ka BP) in this region. The 14C dating data and geological analysis of northern China also demonstrated that the environment became colder and drier in 6.0-4.0 ka BP (Mo et al., 2003). A reconstruction of the deviation from the present mean aridity and temperature of southern Liaoning (Figure 5d), derived from sediment and sporo-pollen assemblages (39°30′N, 122°E, Site F in Figure 1), demonstrates that the humidity and temperature increased dramatically in 8.0 ka BP and gradually decreased after 6.5 ka BP, with an extreme low temperature event after 3.0 ka BP (GIG, 1977). Although these palaeoenvironmental records are from different sites in the study region or the neighbouring area, the environmental conditions they reflect represent the condition of a fairly large area. Furthermore, the coherence of these records implies that their integration characterizes the environmental conditions of the Yan-Liao region.
Figure 5 Comparisons of the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological records: (a) the variation in δ18O (‰) values from the Dunde Ice Core; (b) the concentrations of total organic carbon (TOC, %) and total inorganic carbon (TIC, %) of the sediment core from Dali Lake; (c) the ratio of pollen of arboreal plants (AP) to that of non-arboreal plants (NAP) in the Anguli-nuur Lake; (d) the reconstruction of deviation from the present mean aridity and temperature in South Liaoning; (e) the changes in the maximum density, ANN value and total number of archaeological sites
Line graphs of the total number, maximum density and ANN value of archaeological sites are appended here to show their correspondences with environmental changes. Total number and maximum density have increased slightly since 8.5 ka BP, with slight decreases in the ANN value (Figure 5e). This trend is in line with the changes in environmental conditions, which were humid and warm when the Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures rose and developed. However, the peak in the number and maximum density of archaeological sites and the valley in the ANN value occur in the Lower Xiajiadian culture period between 4.0-3.0 ka BP, when it was drier and colder than the previous period. Additionally, the second peak and valley in Figure 5e between 6.5-5.0 ka BP also occurred in a relatively dry and cool period, which corresponds to the Hongshan culture. To understand the potential causal factors, the subsistence strategies, spatial patterns and evolution process of this culture sequence are discussed with the previously described calculations.

5.2 Evolution and subsistence strategies of cultures

The Xiaohexi culture was the first Neolithic culture in the Yan-Liao region. Because of climate fluctuation and primitive level of technology, Xiaohexi has the smallest number of sites (33 sites). The subsequent Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures developed during a period of relatively comfortable climate conditions. However, the numbers of these sites only increased slightly. Flora and fauna remains from archaeological studies on the Zhaobaogou (IACASS, 1997), Xinglongwa (Liu, 2001), Xinglonggou (Zhao, 2004), Baiyinchanghan (IAIMAR, 2004) and Chahai (IALP, 2012a) sites demonstrated that hunting-gathering was the primary survival strategy of these four cultures, albeit primitive agriculture emerged in the Xinglongwa culture period. The turning point appeared in the Hongshan culture. Archaeological surveys and studies on a number of large sites from the Hongshan culture demonstrate that hunting-gathering remained the primary subsistence strategy in the early stage. However, in the late Hongshan stage, when the climate deteriorated, primitive agriculture was predominant while hunting-gathering was a supplementary activity (IALP, 2012b). Environmental archaeology demonstrates that the temperature decrease in the late Hongshan period was not dramatic. Because of the presence of rivers and their branch streams in the area, the temperature and water supply could support the adoption and development of primitive agriculture, despite the environmental deterioration (IACASS, 1996; IALP, 2012b; Sun and Zhao, 2013). Cohen (1977) demonstrated that only when hunting-gathering cannot provide enough food supplementation, do people adopt agriculture as their primary subsistence strategy to resolve the crisis of food shortages and starvation through cultivation and domestication of plants and animals. Figures 2 and 5 show that the Hongshan culture developed in a relatively dry and cool period with the expansion of steppe. The climate and environment were more favourable for cultivators than hunter-gatherers with respect to obtaining sufficient food. Since the main distribution area of the Hongshan culture is the same as that of the Xinglongwa and Zhaobaogou cultures (Figures 4b, 4c and 4e), the climate change that occurred in this period was likely a primary contributor to the adoption of agriculture. Hunting-gathering was no longer able to provide enough food for the population, which increased during the habitable period. The additional food provided by agriculture resulted in further population growth, as indicated by the remarkable increase in the number and density of Hongshan sites. The lower ANN value is also consistent with the higher clustering level of agriculture. Additionally, the environment in this area during the Xinglongwa and Zhaobaogou cultures was suitable for human habitation, and the food provided by hunting-gathering was abundant such that people were not sufficiently motivated to turn to agriculture, which requires more labour.
Agriculture declined in the Xiaoheyan culture (Han, 2010) when there was another drought event (Figure 5b). The subsequent Lower Xiajiadian culture developed in a relatively humid period between two drought events, with a significant increase in site number and density that was interpreted as the zenith of the human occupation of this region (Shelach et al., 2011). Fieldwork has revealed that primitive agriculture was more widespread in the Lower Xiajiadian culture than in the Hongshan culture (IACASS, 1996), which is also verified by ANN values. However, because of the vulnerability of primitive agriculture to aridity and low temperatures, the Lower Xiajiadian culture was replaced by the Upper Xiajiadian culture with a major shift in subsistence strategies from primitive agriculture to pasturing (IAIMAR and LMNC, 2009) as a result of the large amplitude of aridity and cooling after 3.0 ka BP (Figures 5b-d). Pasturing requires greater living space but can support a smaller population. Therefore, the number, density and clustering level of sites decrease noticeably in the Upper Xiajiadian culture.

5.3 Spatial distribution patterns of archaeological sites

The spatial distribution patterns of archaeological sites can reveal important information on human cultures and the environment. The ANN values (Table 3) reveal that all cultures appear to cluster in space except the Xiaohexi culture, which tends to be a random distribution. The density map of the Xiaohexi culture (Figure 4a) also indicates that its archaeological sites are scattered evenly across space. Although the Xiaohexi, Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures have approximate maximum density values and their spatial density maps exhibit similar patterns, their ANN values vary. Among these cultures, the Zhaobaogou culture has the smallest ANN value, which indicates the highest clustering level. Based on different catchments and human activities divided between hunting-gathering and agriculture, the sites where these two survival methods were practised present different spatial features. Consequently, the similar spatial density characteristics of the Xiaohexi, Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou, and Fuhe cultures indicate that their survival strategies were similar, while primitive agriculture occupies a relatively high proportion of food-based activity in the Zhaobaogou culture. This inference is supported by archaeological evidence (IACASS, 1997; IAIMAR, 2004; Liu, 2006; IALP, 2012a).
The Fuhe culture is exceptional because of its larger maximum density value and ANN value. The Fuhe sites are primarily distributed along the Olji Moron River, where the terrain is dominated by hills. Archaeological research has demonstrated that the Xinglongwa culture might be an important origin of the Fuhe culture, and connections have been drawn between the Zhaobaogou culture and Fuhe culture (IALP, 2012a). However, evidence of agriculture was scarcely found in the Fuhe sites. The larger maximum density and ANN value indicate that Fuhe sites are distributed more evenly and randomly. One can conclude that hunting-gathering was dominant in Fuhe culture and that the environmental conditions of the Olji Moron River might not have been suitable for primitive agriculture to develop during that period. The Xiaoheyan culture has a similar ANN value to that of the Fuhe culture but a larger maximum density. This outcome indicates that more sites of the Xiaoheyan culture were distributed evenly in a smaller area (Figure 4f). A colder climate and the improvement of survival skills (Chen, 2009) may be the main contributors to this development.
The areas with the highest density of the studied cultures are centralized within a limited area and surrounded by areas of low density (Figure 4). The decrease in the ANN value and the increase in density imply that more sites were distributed in high-density areas with fewer sites in surrounding areas. This outcome means increasingly more people inhabited the highly populated areas, while marginal areas had increasingly fewer residents. This trend is apparent in the Hongshan culture with a smaller ANN value of 0.405 and in the Lower Xiajiadian culture, with the smallest ANN value of 0.159. Adoption of primitive agriculture is a crucial causal factor of this trend. The high-density areas on their density maps are obvious (and coloured orange and red, respectively, in Figures 4e and 4g). Patterns of concentric rings appear. However, there are differences between them. In the Hongshan culture, the marginal area with lower site density primarily expands towards the west and north, particularly along the Xar Moron River. In contrast, the marginal area expands more towards the south in the Lower Xiajiadian culture, with more sites along the Dalinghe River and fewer sites along the Xar Moron River. A trend for people to move south in response to colder and drier climate conditions is evident.
A different pattern than that of previous cultures occurs for the Upper Xiajiadian culture due to the adoption of pasturing. Compared to agriculture, pasturing is more active pursuit and more resilient to difficult environments, and requires a larger space. However, its capacity to support a human population is smaller than that of agriculture (Han, 2010). This different pattern elucidates why the Upper Xiajiadian culture has more sites, a larger ANN value and a smaller density value than the Hongshan culture. The Upper Xiajiadian sites are distributed more evenly in space, with several core areas of relatively high density (Figure 4h). These core areas are distributed extensively along river basins, including the Laohahe River, the Jiaolaihe River, the Dalinghe River, the Luanhe River and branches of the Xiliaohe River. This development coincides with characteristics of nomadic production, in which herdsmen prefer areas with adequate water and grass. This development also implies pasturing’s noticeable position among subsistence strategies in the Upper Xiajiadian culture and the spread of steppe in this region.
The most densely populated areas of these cultures, except the Fuhe culture, all overlap along the Laohahe and Jiaolaihe river basins. Because of the predominance of hunting-gathering before the Hongshan culture and the preference of hunter-gatherers for geographical environment (Yang et al., 2015), the available flora and fauna resources in this area were more sufficient than in other areas in the Yan-Liao region at 9.5-6.5 ka BP. Primitive agriculture progressed and the relative population index reached a high level in the Hongshan and Lower Xiajiadian cultures (CICARP, 2003). Thus, the proportion of primitive agriculture practised at sites distributed along the Laohahe and Jiaolaihe river basins was also larger than that in other areas. This inference is supported by archaeological evidence of stone implements and remains (Yang et al., 2000; IAIMAR, 2004; Suo et al., 2005; IALP, 2012a; Sun and Zhao, 2013). Considering the thousands of years of continual occupation by human beings and the high density of the Hongshan and Lower Xiajiadian archaeological sites in this area, the population capacity of this basin must have been much higher than that of other areas, which also means a habitable environment in the prehistoric period.

6 Conclusions

This paper has described and interpreted the holistic spatial-temporal patterns of archaeological sites that belong to a sequence of prehistoric cultures in the region from the Yanshan Mountains to the Liaohe River Plain during 9.5-2.3 ka BP. With the basic information of 8353 sites and GIS technology, several characteristic values were calculated and a series of maps were created. The integration and analysis of climatic and regional environmental records as well as calculations, including density calculation and the nearest-neighbour analysis, have provided a broad long-term perspective on cultural evolution, the spatial-temporal distribution features of the archaeological sites and human activities against the backdrop of environmental and climatic changes.
Four main conclusions are drawn from the results. First, prehistoric cultural evolution and subsistence strategies in the Yan-Liao region were extensively influenced by climatic and environmental changes, particularly the deterioration of the environment in 6.6-5.8 ka BP and 3.15-2.65 ka BP. Second, the Xinglongwa, Zhaobaogou and Fuhe cultures primarily developed during a climatically comfortable period during the strong summer monsoon phase in 8.5-6.0 ka BP, with higher temperatures and greater precipitation. These three cultures and the Xiaohexi culture exhibit similar subsistence strategies dominated by hunting-gathering and similar spatial distribution patterns. Third, significant changes occurred in the survival strategies of the Hongshan, Lower Xiajiadian and Upper Xiajiadian cultures when the summer monsoon began to weaken and the environment began deteriorating after 6.0 ka BP. Primitive agriculture predominated during the late stage of the Hongshan culture and the entire Lower Xiajiadian culture and was replaced by pasturing in the Upper Xiajiadian culture as a result of the sudden decrease in temperature, the increase in aridity and the spread of steppe. The rapid increase in the number and clustering level of Hongshan and Lower Xiajiadian archaeological sites and their concentric circle-shaped distribution pattern are likely the results of the development of primitive agriculture. Last, the most densely populated areas of the studied cultures are centralized within a limited area and surrounded by less densely populated areas. The Laohahe and Jiaolaihe river basins formed the core area where most archaeological sites were distributed during the strong summer monsoon period and the first few thousand years of the weak summer monsoon period.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

ArcGIS, December 2016. What is a z-score? What is a p-value? Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), California.

Avni Y, Zhang J F, Shelach Get al., 2010. Upper Pleistocene-Holocene geomorphic changes dictating sedimentation rates and historical land use in the valley system of the Chifeng region, Inner Mongolia, northern China.Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 35(11): 1251-1268. study focuses on the late Quaternary landscape evolution in the Chifeng region of Inner Mongolia, China, its relations to the history of the Pleistocene-Holocene loess accumulation, erosion and redeposition, and their impact on human occupation.Based on 57 optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) ages of loess sediments, fluvial sand and floodplain deposits accumulated on the hill slopes and floodplains, we conclude that during most of the Pleistocene period the region was blanketed by a thick layer of aeolian loess, as well as by alluvial and fluvial deposits. The loess section is divided into two main units that are separated by unconformity. The OSL ages at the top of the lower reddish loess unit yielded an approximate age of 19365ka, roughly corresponding to the transition from MIS 7 to 6, though they could be older. The upper gray loess unit accumulated during the upper Pleistocene glacial phase (MIS 4–3) at a mean accumulation rate of 0·2265m/ka. Parallel to the loess accumulation on top of the hilly topography, active fans were operating during MIS 4–2 at the outlet of large gullies surrounding the major valley at a mean accumulation rate of 0·2465m/ka. This co-accumulation indicates that gullies have been a long-term geomorphic feature at the margins of the Gobi Desert since at least the middle Pleistocene. During the Holocene, the erosion of the Pleistocene loess on the hills led to the burial of the valley floors by the redeposited sediments at a rate that decreases from 3·265m/ka near the hills to 1–0·465m/ka1 in the central part of the Chifeng Valley. This rapid accumulation and the frequent shifts of the courses of the river prevented the construction of permanent settlements in the valley floors, a situation which changed only with improved man-made control of the local rivers from the tenth century AD. Copyright 08 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Brantingham P J, Gao X, 2006. Peopling of the northern Tibetan Plateau.World Archaeology, 38(3): 387-414. archaeological investigations on the Tibetan Plateau concluded that this harsh, high-elevation environment was successfully colonized around 30,000 years ago. Genetic studies have tended to support this view on the assumption that the uniquely evolved physiological capacities seen among modern Tibetan populations required long-term exposure to high-elevation selective pressures. Archaeological evidence amassed over the last decade suggests, however, that colonization leading to full-time occupation occurred much later. Seasonal foraging forays into high-elevation settings at c. 30 and 15 cal. ka appear to have been limited 'adaptive radiations' coincident, respectively, with the appearance of early and late Upper Palaeolithic adaptations in low-elevation source areas around the plateau. More permanent occupation of the plateau probably did not begin before c. 8200 cal. BP and may have been driven by 'competitive exclusion' of late Upper Palaeolithic foragers from low-elevation environments by emerging settled agricultural groups. The appearance of specialized epi-Palaeolithic blade and bladelet technologies on the high plateau, after 8200 cal. ka, may indicate 'directional selection' impacting on these new full-time residents. An 'adaptive radiation' of agriculturalists into the mid-elevations of the plateau, this time leading to year-round occupation, is again seen after 6000 cal. BP.


Chang K C, 1967. Rethinking Archaeology. New York: Random House, 32-48.

Chen G Q, 2009. Analysis on the mutual movement relation between Xiaoheyan culture and other archaeology culture.Research of China’s Frontier Archaeology, 36-46. (in Chinese) is frequent mutual movement between Xiaoheyan Culture and other archaeology cultures surrounding it.The relationship between Xiaoheyan Culture and Dawenkou Culture,Wufang remains and Miaozigou Culture mainly embody the mutual movement relation.Xiaoheyan Culture is a synthetical body with very complicated culture elements,and it changed into a more high-grade archaeology culture in the late stage of the Neolithic Age at both side of Yanshan Moutain.Some potteries and culture elements of Xiaoheyan Culture originate from other archaeology cultures.All above mentioned fully indicate that Xiaoheyan Culture is an open culture, and the tradition of itself,innovation and the absorbed foreign cultural elements constitute the multi-culture feature of Xiaoheyan Culture.

CHGIS, 2017. CHGIS Version 4. Cambridge: Harvard Yenching Institute and Fudan Center for Historical Geography. .

Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 1984. Physical Geography of China: Climate. Beijing: Science Press, 158. (in Chinese)

Chifeng International Collaborative Archaeological Research Project (CICARP), 2003. Regional Archaeology in Eastern Inner Mongolia: A Methodological Exploration. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Cohen M N, 1977. The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture. New Heaven: Yale University Press, 18-70.

Cui H T, Kong Z C, 1992. A preliminary analysis about the climatic fluctuation of Holocene Megathermal in the centre and eastern part of Inner Mongolia. In: Shi Y F (ed.). The Climates and Environments of Holocene Megathermal in China. Beijing: China Ocean Press, 72-79. (in Chinese)

Dong G H, Jia X, An C Bet al., 2012a. Mid-Holocene climate change and its effect on prehistoric cultural evolution in eastern Qinghai Province, China.Quaternary Research, 77(1): 23-30. studied the mid-Holocene climate change in eastern Qinghai Province, China and its impact on the evolution of Majiayao (39800900092050 BC) and Qijia (21830900091635 BC) cultures, near the important Neolithic site of Changning. The investigation focused on analyses of grain size, magnetic susceptibility, ratios of elemental contents, and pollen assemblage from a loess-paleosol sequence. The results indicate that the climate was wet during 58300900094900 cal yr BP, which promoted the development of early-mid Majiayao culture in eastern Qinghai Province. However, 49000900094700 cal yr BP were drought years in the region, responsible for the decline and eastward movement of prehistoric culture during the period of transition from early-mid to late Majiayao culture. The climate turned wet again during 47000900093940 cal yr BP, which accelerated the spread of Qijia culture to the middle reaches of the Huangshui River, including the Changning site.


Dong G H, Jia X, Elston Ret al., 2013. Spatial and temporal variety of prehistoric human settlement and its influencing factors in the upper Yellow River valley, Qinghai Province, China.Journal of Archaeological Science, 40(5): 2538-2546. report an investigation of forty-two prehistoric sites in the upper Yellow River valley located in Guide, Jianzha, Hualong, Xunha and Minhe, Qinghai Province, China, including forty-four new radiocarbon dates from twenty-four sites, review published archaeological surveys and radio-carbon dates, analyze landform features and discuss the reasons for spatial and temporal variety of regional prehistoric human settlement. Our results suggest that people occupied the upper Yellow River valley during the early Holocene, but a continuous archaeological record begins only after about 5500 Cal yr BP. Thereafter, the intensity of prehistoric human settlement in the area is varied. Neolithic human settlement spread northwestward to high altitude areas of the upper Yellow River valley during early-mid Majiayao and Qijia periods, but moved southeastward to lower locations in the area during late Majiayao period. During the Bronze period, two coeval archaeological cultures, the Kayue and Xindian, occupied the upper Yellow River Region. Kayue archaeological sites are numerous and widely distributed in the high areas of the upper Yellow River, while Xindian sites are restricted to the lowest basin of the region. Variation in site density and location are likely the result of changing paleoclimate and technology. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Dong G H, Yang Y, Zhao Yet al., 2012b. Human settlement and human-environment interactions during the historical period in Zhuanglang County, western Loess Plateau, China.Quaternary International, 281: 78-83. of past human nvironment interactions have been widely concerned by the scholars from different disciplines, which has been also rapidly advanced due to the increasing cooperation between archaeology and the natural sciences (especially geosciences). This paper investigated 345 historical sites in Zhuanglang County, Gansu Province, located in the western Loess Plateau, China, and reviewed the redness and tree pollen proxies of Tianchi Lake, Zhuanglang County, as well as written records of historical literature. The objective is to analyze the history of human settlement in Zhuanglang County, and human nvironment interactions during the historical period. Human settlement density in the area was relatively high during the Han dynasty, Song dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty, and low during the Warring States Period, Wei Jin Southern and Northern Dynasties, Sui and Tang Dynasties. Human settlement in Zhuanglang County was primarily influenced by political situations and government policies during different dynasties; however, it might also be affected by climate change during the historical period. Local tree cover in Zhuanglang County was seriously affected by human activities, especially wasteland reclamation and construction of cities and villages during the Han dynasty, Song dynasty, Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty.


Feng Z D, An C B, Wang H B, 2006. Holocene climatic and environmental changes in the arid and semi-arid areas of China: A review.Holocene, 16(1): 119-130. paper reviews recently published literature, most of which was published in Chinese, and searches for regional patterns of Holocene changes useful in depicting global patterns. The Holocene in the Xinjiang region can be divided into three stages: a warming and dry early stage (from 11 similar to 10 to 8 similar to 7 ka BP), a warm and wet middle stage (from 8 similar to 7 to 4.5 similar to 3 ka BP) and a fluctuating cool and dry late stage (since 4.5 similar to 3 ka BP). The Holocene in the northern Tibetan Plateau can also be divided into three stages: a warming and wet stage (from 10.5 similar to 10 to 5 similar to 4 ka BP), followed by a variable drying and probably warm stage (5 similar to 4 to 3 ka BP) and ending with a cool and dry stage (since 3 ka BP). In the Inner Mongolian Plateau, the early Holocene (from 10.5 similar to 9.5 to 8 similar to 7.5 ka BP) was warming and dry, and a warm and wet climate occurred from 7.5 to 3.5. during which the best time was 6.3-3.8 ka BP; the climate has been variably drying and probably cooling since 3.5 ka BP In the northwestern part of the Loess Plateau. several Holocene palaeosols have been identified (10-9, 7.5-5. 4-3 and 2.7-2 ka BP) with the 7.5-5 ka BP palaeosol being most strongly expressed. The best-developed palaeosol-equivalent in major valleys is a swamp-wetland facies deposited between 8885 and 3805 C-14 yr BP under an extremely wet regime. The climate has fluctuated significantly at least three times around a dry and probably cool regime after the swamp-wetland facies-depositional period. Our summary shows that the Holocene Climatic Optimum occurred nearly contemporaneously (8-5 ka BP) at all sites in the Xinjiang region, in the Inner Mongolian Plateau and in the northwestern part of the Loess Plateau. A warming and wet early Holocene (10-8 ka BP) in the northern Tibetan Plateau is most likely related to high effective soil moisture resulting from snow and ice melting. We propose here that the middle Holocene Climatic Optimum (8-5 ka BP) in arid to semi-arid China was primarily a delayed response of the low latitude oceans to high latitude peak insolation (9-8 ka BP).


Gao H Z, Zhu C, Xu W F, 2007. Environmental change and cultural response around 4200 cal. yr BP in the Yishu River Basin, Shandong.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 17(3): 285-292.


Guiyang Institute of Geochemistry, Academia Sinica (GIG), 1977. Evolution of natural environments in last 10,000 yrs in southern Liaoning Province.Scientia Sinica, (6): 603-614. (in Chinese)

Guo Y Y, Mo D W, Mao L Jet al., 2013. Settlement distribution and its relationship with environmental changes from the Neolithic to Shang-Zhou dynasties in northern Shandong, China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 23(4): 679-694. this paper, the spatial and temporal distribution of the settlement sites of six periods from the Neolithic Age to the Shang and Zhou dynasties in northern Shandong was investigated using the ArcGIS program, and the relationship between settlement distribution and environmental changes was discussed, based on the proxy records of climatic and environmental change contained in the sediments from three sections at the Shuangwangcheng site and the previous work. The results show that the climate was warm and humid and the sea level was relatively high during the period of 8000鈥5000 a BP in the study area, and the ancient people lived in the relatively flat (slope of 2 ) areas at high elevation (20 300 m above sea level), such as diluvial tableland and alluvial plain. On the other hand, few archaeological sites in the low-lying plain in the west of the study area indicate that few people lived there during that period. This might be attributed to frequent flooding in the area. After 5000 years ago, the scope of human activity extended to the area close to the sea because the relatively colder and drier climate results in sea-level fall, meanwhile the low-lying plain in the west was occupied by the ancient people. The study area of this period was characterized by the rapid development of prehistoric culture, the intensified social stratification and the emergence of early city-states. However, around 4000 a BP, the abrupt change in climate and the increase in frequency and intensity of floods severely disrupted human activities, and eventually led to the decline of the Yueshi culture. During the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the climatic conditions gradually stabilized in a mild-dry state, which promoted the redevelopment and flourish of the Bronze Culture. The previous situation, which was characteristic of sparse human settlements due to freshwater shortage and unfitted conditions for sedentary agriculture, changed during the Shang and Zhou dynasties in northern coastal wetlands.Local residents effectively adapted themselves to the tough environmental conditions by producing sea-salt, which led to the rapid growth of human activities.


Han M L, 2010. A study on settlements and environment of prehistoric times in the West Liaohe River Valley.Acta Archaeologica Sinica, 1: 1-20. (in Chinese) settlement is a product of the man-land relationship,and the selection of places for building settlements must satisfy the demand of human survival.In the Xinglongwa and Zhaobaogou cultures(a.8000 6000 BP),people made a living mainly by gathering,fishing and hunting,and their settlements were located within the boundary of timberland suitable to those economic activities.Investigation shows that these settlements were largely concentrated on hill-slopes at a height of 400鈥600 m above sea level,while the mountain summits and river valleys beyond the limits played a part in this respect only during certain periods.Meanwhile,the West Liaohe River valley was one of the birthplaces of civilization.In the Hongshan and Upper Xiajiadian cultures(a.6000鈥3000 BP),the weather was becoming cold and dry,primitive agriculture increased its proportion in the means of subsistence,and the population grew step by step,all of which caused the distribution of settlements to be expanded from timberland to lower grassland.In the Hongshan culture,farming began to play the leading role,whereas by the Upper Xiajiadian period,it had been supplemented by animal husbandry.Every change in the mode of man's getting food was embodied in the relationship between the settlement and the environment:Gathering,fishing and hunting were entirely dependent on natural environment;the agriculture's joining in decreased man's dependence on the natural world;and the breakthrough in the selection of the environment of settlements by expanding living space from timberland was just a result of promotion by agricultural production.Both the duration of settlement function and the alteration of settlement culture prove that the man-land relationship in the prehistoric West Liaohe River valley was kept in a state of relative balance.Either gathering,fishing and hunting in the Xinglongwa and Zhaobaogou cultures or agricultural production from the Hongshan period did not break through the environmental content of this region.The gathering,fishing and hunting economy of the Xinglongwa and Zhaobaogou periods made the functioning duration of settlements shorter than that in the Hongshan period and after when agriculture had held the leading position in economy.This suggests that,as exploiting economy and productive one were different in the rate of dependence on natural environment,with the settlement as the base,man's influence on environment was varied in time scale.

Han M L, Zhang Y, Fang Cet al., 2008. Location and environment of the settlements and man-land relationship in West Liaohe River Basin since Holocene.Geographical Research, 27(5): 1118-1128. (in Chinese) paper reconsiders the man-land relationship in West Liaohe River Basin through the analysis of settlements' environment and takes the key district of ecologically fragile area,where the improvement of the environment is urgently needed,as the focus of the study.Based on the research of three agricultural reclamation periods in West Liaohe River Basin since Holocene,the paper brought forward that the location of the settlement can be classified as the first choice and the territoriality.Because of the fragile environment in West Liaohe River Basin,there exist not only the environmental differences but also a total different characteristics of the first choice and the territoriality.In the two aspects of height and topography,sloping field of 400-600 m contour is the first choice.It is not only the main immigratory area in each agricultural reclamation period,but also the area with a longer duration of human activity.Region outside 400-600 m contour area belongs to territoriality.Secondary migration is a most important step of compromising the man-land relationship.It is also the beginning of agriculture and planting in territoriality.Moving out of the first choice and moving into the territoriality as the secondary immigration have been through all previous agriculture reclamations in West Liaohe River Basin,which is most prominent during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty.Agricultural reclamation in West Liaohe River Basin was a main process of the environmental change from grassland to farmland.Because of the environment differences between the immigrants' first choice and territoriality,agricultural reclamation in territoriality would bring a more serious disturbance to the environment,thus,this kind of area is not only the focus of environmental issues,but also the key district where the improvement of the environment is urgently needed.


Harrower M J, 2010. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) hydrological modeling in archaeology: An example from the origins of irrigation in Southwest Arabia (Yemen).Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(7): 1447-1452. small bands of foragers, pastoralists, and village agriculturists, to states and civilizations water accessibility and management played a crucial role in sustenance and social life throughout the ancient world. Recent advances in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and related remote sensing technologies offer powerful means of analyzing water flow that are well-suited to clarify design and operational requirements of different irrigation and water management systems. Ancient Southwest Arabian irrigation technologies developed over thousands of years culminating in some the ancient world's most advanced flashflood water systems. This paper describes satellite imagery Digital Elevation Model (DEM) extraction and GIS hydrological modeling procedures conducted for the Wadi Sana watershed of Hadramawt Governate, Yemen. Results help illustrate one of the local contexts in which small-scale irrigation originated in Southwest Arabia and additionally serve as an example for those interested in applying similar methods in other regions.


Hoelzmann P, Keding B, Berke Het al., 2001. Environmental change and archaeology: Lake evolution and human occupation in the Eastern Sahara during the Holocene.Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 169(3/4): 193-217. West Nubian Palaeolake is the most large-scale hydrographic evidence in the Eastern Sahara of the early to mid-Holocene wet phase that affected northern Africa. It is the result of a significant increase in local rainfall due to the northward shift of the tropical rainfall belt. A series of fieldwork-based differential GPS (DGPS) measurements along several profiles across the West Nubian Palaeolake basin provides the first precise topographic data from this up to a 5330 km 2 large palaeolake feature. In combination with sedimentological, geochemical, and archaeological results, an almost complete picture of significant palaeoclimatic changes and human occupation during the early to mid-Holocene for this region is presented. Different stages of palaeolake evolution ranging from non-existence of the lake through stable freshwater conditions to its extinction were identified in the period from 9400 to 3800 14C yr BP. These lake stages coincide with phases of intensive human inhabitation between ca. 6300 and 3500 14C yr BP, and include at least four settlement phases distinguishable by style of pottery. These are known from adjacent areas of the palaeolake region, emphasizing strong prehistoric cultural connections in the Eastern Sahara. During the highstands of the palaeolake in the early to mid-Holocene, the Dotted Wavy-Line pottery relates to the Early Khartoum type culture with its supra-regional distribution from the Nile Valley to the Chad, and possibly with slightly different forms even to the Atlantic coast. Later in the Holocene, Western Nubia with its large palaeolakes and migration paths along palaeowadis, such as Wadi Howar, acted as an important natural and cultural link between the Nile Valley and the Chad Basin until the region was deserted during the fourth millennium BP.


Hou X Y, 2001. Vegetation Atlas of China (1:1000000). Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (IACASS), 1996. Report of Archaeological Excavation of Settlement Sites and Tombs of Dadianzi Site of Lower Xiajiadian Culture. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (IACASS), 1997. Zhaobaogou Site, the Neolithic Settlement Site in Aohan Banner. Beijing: Encyclopedia of China Publishing House. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IAIMAR), 2004. Report of Archaeological Excavation of the Neolithic Settlement, Baiyinchanghan Site. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IAIMAR) and Liaozhongjing Museum in Ningcheng County (LMNC), 2009. Report of Archaeological Excavation of Xiaoheishigou Settlement Site of Upper Xiajiadian Culture. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of Liaoning Province (IALP), 2012a. Report of Archaeological Excavation of the Neolithic Settlement, Chahai Site. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press. (in Chinese)

Institute of Archaeology of Liaoning Province (IALP), 2012b. Report of Archaeological Excavation of Niuheliang Settlement Site of Hongshan Culture, from 1983 to 2003. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press. (in Chinese)

Knitter D, Blum H, Horejs Bet al., 2013. Integrated centrality analysis: A diachronic comparison of selected Western Anatolian locations.Quaternary International, 312: 45-56. importance of an archaeological site is determined by its centrality, a measure of the interaction at the site. Interactions are assessed by different central functions that are important on different spatial scales. With this integrated approach, applying the knowledge of geography, prehistoric archaeology and classical archaeology, the surroundings of present-day Bergama and Sel uk in Western Anatolia are analysed with regard to their centrality. The diachronic approach shows the different developments of both areas throughout time, indicating the importance of different environmental and social factors that create the level of centrality. Two kinds of centrality can be distinguished: (1) a natural centrality that is mainly based on the location of a site in relation to its local hinterland as well as supra-regional landscape characteristics and (2) a politically controlled centrality that is caused by human efforts to assemble central functions. While in the second case deterioration starts when the required effort can no longer be afforded, deterioration in the first type of centrality is caused by the natural landscape dynamics. This interdisciplinary, diachronic analysis allows a holistic assessment of centrality. Furthermore it shows that (1) local, natural or social factors alone are not able to give a full and sufficient explanation of the differences in a location's centrality as well as (2) the evident need for integrated research frameworks in the analysis of human nvironmental relationships throughout time.


Li C H, Zheng Y F, Yu S Yet al., 2012. Understanding the ecological background of rice agriculture on the Ningshao plain during the Neolithic age: Pollen evidence from a buried paddy field at the Tianluoshan cultural site.Quaternary Science Reviews, 35: 131-138. progressive rise of atmospheric CH4 level since 502ka has been hypothesized to result from human agricultural activities that turned forested lands, which would otherwise be a carbon sink, into paddy fields. Increasing numbers of Neolithic cultural sites unearthed in coastal eastern China, providing unique opportunities to test this hypothesis. Here, we present detailed pollen data from a buried paddy field at Tianluoshan cultural site on the Ningshao Plain, eastern China, to reconstruct the ecological conditions associated with the establishment of paddy fields. Stratigraphic data, radiocarbon ages, and pollen analyses show that vegetation underwent six phases of evolution and paddy fields were developed from 7000 to 420002cal.02yr02BP. We found no evidence of slash-and-burn agriculture at the study site. Together with no presence of the irrigation system, our pollen data suggest the paddy fields at this site originated from wetlands. Hence, our findings do not support the hypothesis that anthropogenic-induced deforestation play ed a significant role in the rise of the atmospheric CH4 rise since the middle Holocene.


Li T Y, Mo D W, Kidder Tet al., 2014. Holocene environmental change and its influence on the prehistoric culture evolution and the formation of the Taosi site in Linfen basin, Shanxi province, China.Quaternary International, 349: 402-408. Taosi site (4300–400002BP) in the southern Linfen basin of Shanxi province is regarded as one of the most important large settlement sites prior to the origin of Chinese civilization, but the environmental context of its formation remains unclear. In this paper, we reconstruct the Holocene environment, based on analyses of OSL dates, pollen, grain sizes, magnetic susceptibilities, and trace elements of the two loess-paleosol profiles in Linfen basin, and discuss its influence on Neolithic cultural evolution in the area, and the formation of the Taosi site. The results indicate that the climate was warm and wet ca. 9.0–4.902ka, promoting the development of the Neolithic cultures during that period in the Linfen basin. Climate turned cool and dry after 4.902ka, and settlements concentrated in the valleys of the large rivers resulting in greater culture development and increasing political centralization. The development of Neolithic cultures coupled with paleosol enriched in micronutrient elements in Linfen basin provided a cultural basis and material basis for the Taosi culture. The central geographic location of the Taosi culture amidst various other early Chinese cultures contributed to the flourishing of the culture and the formation of the Taosi site as a major protourban settlement that influenced further evolution of Chinese social systems.


Liu G X, 2001. A preliminary probing into the settlement pattern of Xinglongwa culture.Archaeology and Cultural Relics, (6): 58-67. (in Chinese)

Liu G X, 2006. Comparative research on the Xinglongwa culture and the Fuhe culture.Northern Cultural Relics, (2): 1-10. (in Chinese)

Mo D W, Wang H, Li S C, 2003. Effects of Holocene environmental changes on the development of archaeological cultures in different regions of north China.Quaternary Sciences, 23(2): 200-210. (in Chinese)

Mu Y, Qin X G, Zhang Let al., 2014. A preliminary study of Holocene climate change and human adaptation in the Horqin Region.Acta Geologica Sinica-English Edition, 88(6): 1784-1791.


Qiao Y, 2007. Development of complex societies in the Yiluo region: A GIS based population and agricultural area analysis. In: Bellwood P et al. (ed.). Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association: 27: 61-75.

Shelach G, Raphael K, Jaffe Y, 2011. Sanzuodian: The structure, function and social significance of the earliest stone fortified sites in China.Antiquity, 85(327): 11-26.


Shi Y F, Kong Z C, Wang S Met al., 1992. The climate changes and important events during the Holocene Megathermal in China.Science in China (Series B), (12): 1300-1308. (in Chinese)

State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), 2003. Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics: Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Volume. Xi’an: Xi’an Cartographic Publishing House. (in Chinese)

State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), 2008. Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics: Beijing Volume. Beijing: Science Press. (in Chinese)

State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), 2009. Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics: Liaoning Volume. Xi’an: Xi’an Cartographic Publishing House. (in Chinese)

State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), 2013. Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics: Hebei Volume. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press. (in Chinese)

Sun Y G, Zhao Z J, 2013. A synthetic study of floral remains of Weijaiwopu Site of Hongshan culture.Agricultural Archaeology, 3: 1-5. (in Chinese)

Suo X F, Li S B, Ma F L, 2005. A brief report of archaeological excavation of Shuiquan Site in Linxi County in the Inner Monglolia Autonomous Region.Archaeology, (11): 19-29. (in Chinese)

Tarasov P, Jin G Y, Wagner M, 2006. Mid-Holocene environmental and human dynamics in northeastern China reconstructed from pollen and archaeological data.Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 241(2): 284-300. pollen record from the Taishizhuang site (40°21.5′N, 115°49.5′E) located in the transitional forest–steppe zone near the present-day limit of the summer monsoon is used to reconstruct vegetation and climate. Quantitative biome reconstruction suggests that between ca. 5700 and 440002cal. years B.P. temperate deciduous forest dominated the vegetation cover around the Taishizhuang site. After that time the landscape became more open and the scores of the steppe biome were always higher than those of the temperate deciduous forest except for two oscillations dated to ca. 400002cal. years B.P. and ca. 350002cal. years B.P. However, ca. 3400–210002cal. years B.P. the common vegetation became steppe and the landscape was more open in comparison with the previous time interval. The results of the pollen-based precipitation reconstruction suggest that annual precipitation was ca. 550–75002mm (ca. 100–30002mm higher than present) during the mid-Holocene ‘forest phase’, and ca. 450–65002mm during the following ‘forest–steppe phase’. From ca. 340002cal. years B.P. during the ‘steppe phase’ annual precipitation was similar to modern values (ca. 300–50002mm). Archaeological records from 100 sites prove the habitation of northeastern China during the prehistoric and early historic periods from ca. 820002cal. years B.P., but do not provide evidence of the use of wood resources intensive enough to influence the regional vegetation development and to leave traces in the pollen assemblages. Both archaeological and palaeoenvironmental data support the conclusion that changes in pollen composition in northeastern China between 5700 and 210002cal. years B.P. reflect natural variations in precipitation and not major deforestation caused by humans.


Thompson L G, Thompson E M, Davis M Eet al., 1989. Holocene-late Pleistocene climatic ice core records from Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.Science, 246(4929): 474-477.


Thompson L G, Thompson E M, Davis M Eet al., 1990. Glacial stage ice core records from the subtropical Dunde Ice Cap, China.Annals of Glaciology, (14): 288-297. first ice-core record of both the Holocene and Wisconsin/W0104rm Late Glacial Stage (LGS) from the subtropics has been extracted from three ice cores to bedrock from the Dunde ice cap on the north-central Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Ice thicknesses at the ice-cap summit average 138 m, the bedrock surface is relatively flat, surface and basal temperatures are 0908087.3 and 0908084.700°C, respectively and the ice cap exhibits radial flow away from the summit dome. These records reveal a major change in the climate of the plateau 09080410 000 years ago and suggest that LGS conditions were colder, wetter and dustier than Holocene conditions. This is inferred from the more negative 020718O ratios, increased dust content, decreased soluble aerosol concentrations, and reduced ice-crystal sizes, which characterize the LGS part of the cores. Total 0205 radioactivity from shallow ice cores indicates that over the last 24 years the average accumulation rate has been 090804400 mm a0908081 at the summit. The ice cores have been dated using a combination of annual layers in the insoluble dust and 020718O in the upper sections of core, visible dust layers which are annual, and ice-flow modeling. The oxygen-isotope record which serves as a temperature proxy indicates that the last 60 years have been the warmest in the entire record.


Wagner M, Tarasov P, Hosner D et al., 2013. Mapping of the spatial and temporal distribution of archaeological sites of northern China during the Neolithic and Bronze Age.Quaternary International, 290: 344-357. study presents statistical analyses and mapping of the spatial and temporal distribution of 36,422 archaeological sites in northern China (ca. 31-53 degrees N, 90-131 degrees E) for six selected time slices from middle Neolithic to late Bronze Age (ca. 8000-500 BC). Archaeological data were digitalized and georeferenced from 11 provincial/regional volumes of the Atlas of Chinese Cultural Relics and for the first time combined in one database and on one comprehensive base map. The results demonstrate the first high concentration of Neolithic sites in the Wei and Yellow River basins and in the Xiliao River basin, i.e. on mountain ridges and plateaus elevated to similar to 1000-2000 m, at ca. 4250 BC. The period from the onset of occupation on the northeastern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (similar to 3000 m) until ca. 3750 BC corresponds to the phase of a strong summer monsoon. Unprecedented maximum site concentration on the Loess Plateau but at minimum in northeastern China was documented at ca. 2350 BC (late Neolithic). About 1750 BC (early Bronze Age), the trend reversed. Between ca. 850 BC and ca. 650 BC, sites agglomerate in eastern China. This eastward shift of site concentration and the decrease in the absolute number of sites correspond to the evolution and spread of mobile pastoralism along with weak summer monsoon and increasing aridity in western and northern China. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.


Wang H Y, Liu H Y, Zhu J L et al. , 2010. Holocene environmental changes as recorded by mineral magnetism of sediments from Anguli-nuur Lake, southeastern Inner Mongolia Plateau, China.Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology, 285(1/2): 30-49. cores, one 1141-cm long (An-S) and the other 885-cm long (An-A), were retrieved from Anguli-nuur Lake (41°18′–24′N, 114°20′–27′E, 65 1315 masl), one of the largest lakes in the transition zone between a semi-humid and semi-arid climate parallel to the present limit of the southeast monsoon along the southeastern Inner Mongolia Plateau in north China. Mineral-magnetic parameters ( χ lf, ARM, IRM 300mT, SIRM and IRM 61 300mT) were measured on An-S and two additional parameters ( χ ARM and HIRM) and four inter-parametric ratios (χ ARM/SIRM, IRM 300mT/SIRM, IRM 61 300mT/SIRM and SIRM/ χ lf) were calculated. Potential sources of these lake sediments (catchment soils and dune materials close to the lake and in a distant sand plain) were sampled, and the magnetic properties of the surface-material specimens were measured. A chronological model was developed for An-S by comparing and combining AMS 14C dates of An-S with 137Cs, 210Pb and AMS 14C dates of An-A. With the help of surface-material magnetism, the magnetic data of An-S in combination with particle size, TOC and C/N and pollen analyses indicate the environmental changes during the last 65 10,000 years around this lake. Conditions began to ameliorate at 10,900 cal. yr BP (9600 14C yr BP) and thus relatively wet and warm environments prevailed during 10,900–8900 cal. yr BP (9600–8000 14C yr BP). The Holocene optimum or the wettest and warmest conditions, was during 8900–7400 cal. yr BP (8000–6500 14C yr BP). The environment began to deteriorate from 7400 cal. yr BP (6500 14C yr BP) and the driest and coolest conditions occurred during 2200–480 cal. yr BP. There may have been a minor amelioration after 480 cal. yr BP. The inferred changes in palaeoenvironmental conditions around Anguli-nuur Lake are broadly in agreement with those around most other sites on the Inner Mongolia Plateau.


Wang L, Wu H, Jia X, 2016. Study on the temporal-spatial evolution of prehistoric settlements and its correlation with subsistence strategy and climate history in the Western Liao River area.Advances in Earth Science, 31(11): 1159-1171. (in Chinese) Liao River area is one of the most important birthplaces of agricultural civilization in northern China. With recent works like relics survey,site excavation and environmental archaeology going further,the time sequence,cultural content and subsistence strategy history of this area are getting explicit. Questions like ancient exploiting history of natural resources,climate background and cultural impact of subsistence strategy have been paid great attention. Traditional environmental archaeology methods like plant and animal remains analysis are mostly utilized to conduct in-site investigation,current studies rarely adopt quantitative methods to examine the sites' macro temporal-spatial distribution and aggregation pattern. Based on abundant digitized relic survey data,GIS methods like kernel density analysis are utilized to indicate the temporal-spatial distribution and aggregation pattern of prehistoric cultures in Western Liao River area. The latitudinal,longitudinal and altitudinal migrations of site distributional core are indicated by 3D perspective shift and elevation statistics. By referencing existing studies on subsistence strategy and paleoclimate history,results of spatial analysis are used to reveal the correlation among sites' temporal-spatial distribution,subsistence strategy adopted and climate variation. This also contributes to our understanding and utilization of massive locational information of prehistoric sites in ancient man-land relationship study.

Wen R L, Xiao J L, Chang Z Get al., 2010. Holocene precipitation and temperature variations in the East Asian monsoonal margin from pollen data from Hulun Lake in northeastern Inner Mongolia, China.Boreas, 39(2): 262-272., R. L., Xiao, J. L., Chang, Z. G., Zhai, D. Y., Xu, Q. H., Li, Y. C. &amp; Itoh, S. 2009: Holocene precipitation and temperature variations in the East Asian monsoonal margin from pollen data from Hulun Lake in northeastern Inner Mongolia, China. Boreas, 10.1111/j.1502-3885.2009.00125.x. ISSN 0300-9483. Quantitative palaeoclimatic reconstruction with the weighted averaging partial least squares method was applied to the pollen profile from Hulun Lake in northeastern Inner Mongolia. The data provide a detailed history of variations in precipitation and temperature over the northeastern margin of the East Asian summer monsoon during the Holocene. A warm and dry climate prevailed over the lake region until c. 8000&nbsp;cal. BP. During the period c. 8000–4400&nbsp;cal. BP, precipitation increased markedly and temperature gradually declined. The interval between c. 4400 and 3350&nbsp;cal. BP was marked by extremely dry and relatively cold conditions. Precipitation recovered from c. 3350 to 1000&nbsp;cal. BP, with temperatures rising c. 3350–2050&nbsp;cal. BP and dropping c. 2050–1000&nbsp;cal. BP. During the last 500 years, the climate of the lake region displayed a general trend of warming and wetting. While Holocene temperature variations in the mid-high latitude monsoonal margin were controlled by changes in summer solar radiation in the Northern Hemisphere, they could also be related to the strength of the East Asian summer monsoon. The lack of precipitation during the early Holocene could be attributed to the weakened summer monsoon resulting from the existence of remnant ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. Changes in the monsoonal precipitation during the middle to late Holocene would have been associated with the ocean–atmosphere interacting processes occurring in the western tropical Pacific.


Wu L, Wang X Y, Zhou K Set al., 2010. Transmutation of ancient settlements and environmental changes between 6000-2000 a BP in the Chaohu Lake Basin, East China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 20(5): 687-700. on the temporal-spatial distribution features of ancient settlement sites from the middle and late Neolithic Age to the Han dynasty in the Chaohu Lake Basin of Anhui Province,East China,using the methods of GIS combined with the reconstructed paleoenvironment by the records of lake sediment since Holocene,the transmutation of ancient settlements with response to environmental changes in this area has been discussed.Studies show that the main feature of transmutation of ancient settlements from the middle and late Neolithic Age to the Han Dynasty was that the distribution of settlements in this area changed from high altitudes to low ones and kept approaching the Chaohu Lake with the passage of time.These could be the response to the climate change from warm-moist to a relatively warm-dry condition during the middle Holocene,leading to the lake level fluctuations.The large area of exposed land provided enough space for human activities.These indicate that the above changes in geomorphologic evolution and hydrology influenced by climate conditions affected the transmutation of ancient settlements greatly.The distribution pattern of settlement sites was that the number of sites in the west was more than in the east.This pattern may be related to the geomorphologic conditions such as frequent channel shifting of the Yangtze River as well as flood disasters during the Holocene optimum.Therefore,climate change was the inducement of the transmutation of ancient settlements in the Chaohu Lake Basin,which exerted great influence on the distribution,expansion and development of the ancient settlements.


Xia Z K, Deng H, Wu H L, 2000. Geomorphologic background of the prehistoric cultural evolution in the Xar Moron River Basin, Inner Mongolia.Acta Geographica Sinica, 55(3): 329-336. (in Chinese) Xar Moron River Basin is located in the interlock area of farming and pasturing, Northern China, where the present climate is semi arid, and the ecosystem is very sensitive to climatic changes and human activities. Based on geomorphologic observations and archeological excavations, the authors analyzed the relationship between geomorphic evolution and prehistoric cultural development during the Megathermal in Xar Moron River Basin.\;The main geomorphologic processes were loess sedimentation, gully aggravation, degradation, deserts spreading and retreating during the Megathermal in this area. This had exerted important influences on the changes of prehistoric cultures in the Xar Moron River Basin.\;The Xinglongwa Culture (8 000~6 500 a BP), which is characterized by hunting and collecting, and the Xiajiadian Upper Layer Culture (3 300~2 800 a BP), which is characterized by Animal husbandry, can be discovered in the whole Xar Moron River Basin. Since loess is beneficial to agriculture, the Zhaobaogou Culture (6 500~6 000 a BP), Hongshan Culture (6 000~5 000 a BP) and Xiajiadian Lower Layer Culture (4 000~ 3 300 a BP), which have characteristics mostly in agricultural cultures, are found only in the Loess region.\;There is a close relationship between alluvial landforms and localities of culture sites. Human changed habitats along with gully degradations. The Xinglongwa Zhaobaogou sites are located on the loess tablelands. The Hongshan sites are distributed on the loess tablelands and are discovered in the sediments of the second terraces of the Xar Moron River. The Xiajiadian sites are on the surface of the loess tablelands and the second terraces, the relics of the sites also can be discovered in the sediments of the first terraces. The Liao Dynasty sites are on the surface of the first terrace.\;The climate changes during the Holocene resulted in the spreading and retreating of deserts in this area, causing the rise and fall of prehistoric cultures. The first expansions of desert (5 000~4 000 a BP) resulted in the fall of Hongshan culture. The second desert expansion (3 300~2 800 a BP) caused the transition from agricultural culture of Xiajiadian Lower Layer to nomadic culture of Xiajiadian Upper Layer.

Xiao J L, Si B, Zhai D Y et al. , 2008. Hydrology of Dali Lake in central-eastern Inner Mongolia and Holocene East Asian monsoon variability.Journal of Paleolimnology, 40(1): 519-528. records from the northern margin of the East Asian monsoon generate a conflicting picture of Holocene monsoonal precipitation change. To seek an integrated view of East Asian monsoon variability during the Holocene, an 8.5-m-long sediment core recovered in the depocenter of Dali Lake in central-eastern Inner Mongolia was analyzed at 1-cm intervals for total organic and inorganic carbon concentrations. The data indicate that Dali Lake reached its highest level during the early Holocene (11,500–7,60002cal yr BP). The middle Holocene (7,600–3,45002cal yr BP) was characterized by dramatic fluctuations in the lake level with three intervals of lower lake stands occurring 6,600–5,850, 5,100–4,850 and 4,450–3,75002cal yr BP, respectively. During the late Holocene (3,45002cal yr BP to present), the lake displayed a general shrinking trend with the lowest levels at three episodes of 3,150–2,650, 1,650–1,150 and 550–20002cal yr BP. We infer that the expansion of the lake during the early Holocene would have resulted from the input of the snow/ice melt, rather than the monsoonal precipitation, in response to the increase in summer solar radiation in the Northern Hemisphere. We also interpret the rise in the lake level since ca. 7,60002cal yr BP as closely related to increased monsoonal precipitation over the lake region resulting from increased temperature and size of the Western Pacific Warm Pool and a westward shifted and strengthened Kuroshio Current in the western Pacific. Moreover, high variability of the East Asian monsoon climate since 7,60002cal yr BP, marked by large fluctuations in the lake level, might have been directly associated with variations in the intensity and frequency of the El Ni09o-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.


Xiao J L, Wu J T, Si Bet al., 2006. Holocene climate changes in the monsoon/arid transition reflected by carbon concentration in Daihai Lake of Inner Mongolia.Holocene, 16(4):551-560. wo sediment cores recovered in the central part of Daihai Lake in north-central China were analysed at 2- to 4-cm intervals for total inorganic and organic carbon(TIC and TOC) concentrations.The TIC concentration is inferred to reflect temperatures over the lake region and an increase in the TIC concentration implies an increase in the temperature.TOC concentration is considered to reflect the precipitation in the lake basin and higher TOC concentrations denote more precipitations.Thus AMS ~(14)C time series of the TIC and TOC records of Daihai Lake sediments uncovers a detailed history of changes in temperature and precipitation in north-central China during the last c.12 000 yr.The Holocene,an epoch of postglacial warmth,started c.11 500 cal.yr BP,and can be subdivided into three stages:the early(c.11 500-8100 cal.yr BP), middle(c.8100-3300 cal.yr BP) and the late Holocene(c.3300-0 cal.yr BP).The climate was warm and dry during the early Holocene,warm and wet during the middle Holocene,and in the late Holocene became cooler and drier but displayed a relatively warmer and wetter interval between c.1700 and 1300 cal.yr BP.The Holocene Climatic Optimum,defined as a postglacial episode of both megathermal and megahumid climate,might have occurred in north-central China between c.8100 and 3300 cal.yr BP,and the climate during this period was variable and punctuated by cool and/or dry events.We infer that changes in the temperature were directly controlled by changes in summer solar radiation in the Northern Hemisphere resulting from progressive changes in the Earth's orbital parameters.Whereas an increase in the monsoonal precipitation could be closely related to an increase in the sea surface temperature of the low-latitude Pacific Ocean,an increase in the temperature and size of the Western Pacific Warm Pool and a westward shifted and strengthened Kuroshio Current in the western Pacific.


Xu J J, Jia Y L, Ma C Met al., 2016. Geographic distribution of archaeological sites and their response to climate and environmental change between 10.0-2.8 ka BP in the Poyang Lake Basin, China.Journal of Geographical Sciences, 26(5): 603-618. temporal-spatial geographic distribution of archaeological sites and its feature between 10.0–2.8 ka BP (ka BP= thousands of years before 0 BP, where “0 BP” is defined as the year AD 1950) were...


Yancheva G, Nowaczyk N R, Mingram Jet al., 2007. Influence of the intertropical convergence zone on the East Asian monsoon.Nature, 445(7123): 74-77. The Asian-Australian monsoon is an important component of the Earth's climate system that influences the societal and economic activity of roughly half the world's population. The past strength of the rain-bearing East Asian summer monsoon can be reconstructed with archives such as cave deposits, but the winter monsoon has no such signature in the hydrological cycle and has thus proved difficult to reconstruct. Here we present high-resolution records of the magnetic properties and the titanium content of the sediments of Lake Huguang Maar in coastal southeast China over the past 16,000 years, which we use as proxies for the strength of the winter monsoon winds. We find evidence for stronger winter monsoon winds before the B lling-Aller d warming, during the Younger Dryas episode and during the middle and late Holocene, when cave stalagmites suggest weaker summer monsoons. We conclude that this anticorrelation is best explained by migrations in the intertropical convergence zone. Similar migrations of the intertropical convergence zone have been observed in Central America for the period ad 700 to 900 (refs 4-6), suggesting global climatic changes at that time. From the coincidence in timing, we suggest that these migrations in the tropical rain belt could have contributed to the declines of both the Tang dynasty in China and the Classic Maya in Central America.


Yang H, Liu G X, Shao G T, 2000. Research of the Xinglonggou Site in Aohanqi Banner in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.Archaeology, (9): 30-48. (in Chinese)

Yang X Y, Ma Z K, Li Jet al., 2015. Comparing subsistence strategies in different landscapes of North China 10,000 years ago.Holocene, 25(12): 1957-1964. recent switch in the study of the beginning of agriculture is to demonstrate the increasingly closer interaction between people and the landscape and how this would have played a crucial role in the transition to agriculture. Understanding the palaeo-ecology of the local environments at key sites and its relationship with subsistence strategies is critical to an improved appreciation of such interactions. This article examines macro- and micro-plant remains discovered at two important sites in North China, both dated to around 10,000 cal. yr BP. These two sites, Zhuannian and Nanzhuangtou, are located on the terrace of the Bai River in the Yan Mountains and next to Baiyangdian Lake on the piedmont of the Taihang Mountains, respectively. The floral remains at these two sites provide a great opportunity to examine (1) post-Pleistocene subsistence strategies, (2) the increasing consumption of millets and grassy plants and its significance and (3) the intra-regional diversity in food exploitation and its relationships with local environments. While the macro-plant remains at Nanzhuangtou indicate the importance of aquatic plants in the palaeo-diet, those at Zhuannian suggest a tendency of exploiting tree plants. This significance of these diversified plant food exploitation strategies by the last hunter-gatherers should be paid more attention in future research. Our data also once again confirm the importance of millet consumption to these hunter-gatherers on the eve of millet domestication.


Zhang H, Bevan A, Fuller Det al., 2010. Archaeobotanical and GIS-based approaches to prehistoric agriculture in the upper Ying valley, Henan, China.Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(7): 1480-1489. survey has sampled a series of late Neolithic to early Bronze Age settlements in the upper Ying valley (part of the central plain of China) and provided useful data for understanding prehistoric arable ecology and farming during a period of increasing local social complexity. A combination of the modelling functions offered by Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the data reduction possibilities offered by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) allow us to explore possible relationships between local arable ecology, crop-processing strategies and the natural environment. The results should be treated cautiously given the size of the analytical sample but suggest that differences in the natural environment around each site may explain varying patterns of wild food collection, while social and cultural factors may better explain variation in farming practice and crop-processing at different sites.


Zhang H Q, Zhao W M, Liu B, 2007. Mathematical modelling of the relationship between Neolithic sites and the rivers in Xi’an (Shaanxi Province, China).Archaeometry, 49(4): 765-773. on analyses of the ecological environments of the Neolithic sites along the Chan and Ba Rivers in the Xi'an area (Shaanxi Province, China), it was found that the characteristic factors of the sites had a very close relationship with the nearby river. The characteristic factors of Neolithic sites have been analysed and defined as mathematical parameters by statistical methods. A mathematical model of the human–land relationship between Neolithic sites and rivers has been established using the stepwise regression procedure REGRESS in SPSS 03 . The mathematical model is Y = 496.153 – 4.833X 1 + 113.692X3 + 725.097X 5 – 27.683X 3 X 4 . It shows that the distance (Y) from a site to a river has a marked relationship with the site area (X 1 ), the river flux (X 3 ), the site location (X 5 ) and river ratio drop (X 4 ). The model shows that the relationship between the sites and the river is in accordance with the conclusions of archaeological research. The mathematical model not only offers theoretical guidance for the archaeological excavation of Neolithic sites in Xi'an, but also contributes to the archaeological environmental research of Xi'an Neolithic sites.


Zhang J F, Wang X Q, Qiu W Let al., 2011. The paleolithic site of Longwangchan in the middle Yellow River, China: Chronology, paleoenvironment and implications.Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(7): 1537-1550. Longwangchan Paleolithic site, situated on the Yellow River terraces in the Hukou area, Shaanxi province, China, was found in 2003–2004, and two areas (Localities 1 and 2) of the site were excavated in 2005–2008. Abundant stone artifacts including microliths, a grinding stone fragment and a shovel, with some animal bones and shells, were recovered from Locality 1. In this study, the cultural deposits from Locality 1 were dated using radiocarbon and optical dating techniques, and the sediment properties of the deposits were analyzed. The results show that the age of the deposits ranges from 29 to 21 ka and most of them were deposited between 25 ka and 29 ka. This indicates that corresponds to late Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 3 and early MIS 2. During the human occupation period, the climate in this area became colder and drier. Sediments from beds where the grinding slab and the shovel were found were dated to 6525 ka, which is the oldest among the grinding stones found in China. The microliths and the grinding stone are important evidence for an incipient socio-economic process that eventually led to the regional transition from hunting-foraging to farming.Graphical abstractView high quality image (358K)


Zhao Z J, 2004. To study the origin of primitive agriculture from the flotation results of Xinglonggou Site. In: the Department of Cultural Relics and Museology of Nanjing Normal University (ed.). Antiquities of Eastern Asia (Volume A). Beijing: Cultural Relics Press, 188-199. (in Chinese)