Eating Identity: Millet versus Rice Consumers in Neolithic North China


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




Rice is now one of the most important crops in Asia. However, little is known about how and why it became important over time in Neolithic China. The Dawenkou period is important for understanding early social ranking in China, and for the introduction of rice into northern China. Using stable isotope analysis, this research explores how Neolithic peoples may have chosen different staple foods to represent their identity, how political and economic factors may have influenced food choices, and how such choices may have facilitated the process of social status differentiation. This research also tests whether there was large-scale northward population migration contributing to the spread of rice farming by ancient DNA analysis. Much research on Chinese Neolithic concentrates on subsistence rather than on the social context of food consumption. This research provides a more comprehensive understanding of the interactive relationship between food and social complexity in China.