Sun Xiang-jun, Du Nai-qiu and Chen Ming-hong

(Palaeobotanical Laboratory, Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica. Abstract scanned from English by G. Leir, edited by B. Gordon)


        The Hemudu site was discovered near the northeast part of Hemudu village in the Lo-chiang Commune of Yu-yao zhejiang sheng, with excavations in 1973-1974 and 1977-1978. Of four superposed cultural levels, level 1 corresponds to the middle level at Sun-ts'e in Ch'ing-p'u Country, while level 2 represents Majiabin culture of Chia-hsing County. Levels 3 & 4 are a hitherto unknown culture, now provisionally named Hemudu culture.

        Palynological and paleobotanical studies show ancient palaeovegetation & palaeoclimate.

        1. The first sporopollen assemblage from lower level 3 and level 4 marks Gramineae predominance (11-71%), most of it large, where exine is thin and more psilate and the single pore annulus ca. 2.5-3.7 lm wide. This pollen very much resembles recent rice (Oryza sativa).

        Artemisia, Caulophyllum, Actinostemma, Polygonum & Rubia herbaceous pollen and some elements of Cyperaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Umbelliferae occur, as do Quercus, Castanopsis, Liquidambar, Mallotus, etc., tree and shrub pollen and Lygodium, Ophioderma, Microsorium, Lemmaphyllum, and Pyrrosia fern spores. Many plant remains (leaves and &) occur in level 4: Chloranthus fortunei, Magnolia coco?, Phoebe sheareri, Lindera glauca, Camptotheca acuminata Prunus davidiana, Choerospondias axillaris, Trapa bispinosa, Quercus myrsinaefolia, Castanopsis tibetana, etc.

        This sporopollen assemblage and plant remains reflect flourishing subtropical evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forests on mountain slopes and some rice fields in the plains around the site. Climate was warm and humid and rather warmer than present. Level 4 acorn and a wood fragment radiocarbon-date ca. 7000 years, corresponding to the European Atlantic period.

        2. The second sporopollen assemblage from middle and upper level 3 marks predominance of Quercus spp., Liquidambar formosana, etc., tree pollen. Gramineae, Cyperaceae and water herb pollen decrease, but Artemisia and Chenopodiaceae rise. Climate was warm but somewhat drier than previously.

        3. The sporopollen assemblages from levels 1 & 2 were mainly temperate Quercus, Ulmus & Salix, where subtropical Liquidambar and Altingia decrease or disappear. These show climate was cooler than previously. A level 2 wood fragment radiocarbon-dating 5600 years corresponds to the European Subboreal. Much level 4 rice pollen and husk show rice was cultivated in China at least 7000 years ago.