Ancient DNA-Based Investigation of the Origins and History of Domesticated Sheep in China


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Postodctoral Fellowships (North America)




This project investigates the history of domesticated sheep in China using ancient DNA techniques. Domesticated sheep appear in China around 5000BP, corresponding with the emergence of Chinese civilization during the Longshan time period (5000-4000BP). However, debates persist as to whether sheep were indigenously domesticated in China, or whether domesticated sheep were imported into the region. Settling this ongoing debate has important implications for the study of culture contact between the East and West, and the emergence of Chinese civilization in the Longshan time period (5,OOOBP). The project involves the ancient DNA analysis of approximately 45 previously excavated sheep remains from Late Paleolithic and Neolithic Chinese archaeological sites.