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The first “rice” in the world was born in China

Who knew that hot steamed rice served with roast duck and shrimp in sauce at your favorite Chinese restaurant could be so delicious? Its ancestors were born 9,000 years ago, or maybe even older.

China is the birthplace of cultivated rice. which made the hunters-hunters turn to settle down as labor and cultivators. According to Richard S. MacNeish , a famous American archaeologist. Who has been excavating in China since 1993 by a special cooperation project with the Chinese government.

“Chinese civilization cannot exist. without rice”

MacNeish said in Los Angeles. On the way back to China for the next excavation

“That was because the rice was planted, so people started to live together.”

MacNeish is the chairman of the Andover Foundation for Archaeological Research. and was a professor at Boston University before. He had been studying the origin of rice, the staple food of half the world’s population for a long time. He specializes in agricultural archeology. Discovery of archaeological sites with evidence of the cultivation of corn, pumpkin and other plants Oldest in America Build a reputation for him a lot.

MacNeish holds a PhD from the University of Chicago. Almost half a century, now [1995] 78 years old, he has excavated all over the world. There are more than 300 published works, both books and articles.

MaclNeish humorously said: “I have crawled in and out of the caves. More than the actual Neanderthal cavemen.”

He is credited with discovering a cave in New Mexico. which found evidence of the first human fingerprints in America on clay hearth which may be as old as 40,000 years ago

Since 1993 Macleish has been the co-director of the Archeology Program. which is a cooperation between the United States and China which was approved by the National Culture Council of China in 1992, where he had a colleague as a Chinese archaeologist , Yan Wenming of Peking University.

The Chinese government has allowed MacNeish to do the job well, with few foreign researchers having such an opportunity.

in the excavation together with Yan And a team of 50 American and Chinese MacNeish found traces of wild rice that is 16,000 years ago and planted rice that is 9,000 years old.

Evidence found includes coarse earthenware fragments, stone fragments, bone fragments and ancient rice plant fragments. The team excavated two caves in a valley near Nanchang, the capital of southeast China’s Jiangxi Province.

“Burned rice found in clay pots. Show that the housewives in the past The rice cooking is awful,” MacNeish joked.

But the results of the analysis of burnt rice scraps by looking at the microscope show that Rice cultivation started in China.

MacNeish said that in both caves the excavation crews There are several layers of cultural soil, from 6,000 years to 30,000 years ago, from the early food-producing societies. Go back to the hunting society.

About 16,000 to 13,000 years ago, the Ice Age was nearing its end. Many large animals are extinct. Therefore, the hunters had to start collecting wild rice and crops for food.

Then, about 10,000 years ago, someone found a variety of rice. This signaled the beginning of rice cultivation, and rice cultivation in the fields probably happened about 9,000 years ago.

MachNeish said the new rice variety was not the same as wild rice with a single stalk and leaf. But the new rice variety has 5 stalks, which means the amount of food is increased by 5 times.

In ancient times, humans would have been as curious as today. Gain experience from growing new rice varieties.

“They are delighted with the results. Less effort but more food,” he said.

Then humans began to experiment with growing rice in wet conditions.

“The beginning of rice cultivation in the fields started 9,000 years ago.”

It was during this time that humans began to understand that If he planted a seed in the soil He will also have other types of food.

“Humans soon have enough food to live anywhere for an entire year. They grow more plants until settling down permanently They are the peasants in the villages,” he said.

The results of microscopic soil samples from caves revealed single cells called Phytoliths, which were obtained from rice plants.

The results of the analysis of human bones found in the cave revealed that carbon and nitrogen elements were found in the bones. can say These bones were primarily eaten by humans.

MacNeish explains that researchers were able to determine the age of the evidence by quantifying carbon-14. which it absorbs from the environment in which it is when humans eat plants Humans will take the elemental carbon to accumulate in the bones. Each plant has a certain amount of carbon. and these proportions will remain in the bones. which can indicate the nutritional status of human beings

“Rice is very unique,” ​​he said.

Determination of age by carbon-14 method It was previously used to analyze the diet of prehistoric humans in New Mexico.

Until the past 10 years, there is a belief that The first rice cultivation occurred in near Southeast Asia. with Burma and Thailand today

But it is fortunate to find burnt rice in the cave. “China is happy. because it is a national reputation,” he said.

On this trip to China, MacNeish plans to do three excavations in the same area. He wants to find out about More early earthenware containers and want to determine the age more precisely

Therefore, he wanted to dig up every layer of soil in the village that had overlapped many generations. This mound of 25 cultural layers is now beckoning him.

Each layer of soil tells a different slice of history, from 25,000 years ago to the Shang dynasty. which is estimated to be in the period 3,597 to 3,060 years ago, the era in which the city was born

What about the future?

MaeNeish said, “If I had not died before I will find the source of wheat and barley.”

This article was written by the author of RICE STALKING ITS ORIGINS by the Times Magazine’s K. CONNIE KANG.

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