GEOPHYSICAL MONOGRAPH SERIES, VOL. 198, PP. 137-143, 2012
Late Holocene Evolution of the Fuzhou Basin (Fujian, China) and the Spread of Rice Farming
Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
In ancient China, productive lowlands were vital in the development and spread of rice-dependent economies centered on paddy
field farming. This paper compares and analyzes two independent lines of evidence documenting the late Holocene formation
of lowlands suitable for paddy field systems in the Fuzhou Basin (Fujian, China). One paleogeographic reconstruction is based
on the analysis of sediment cores from the Fuzhou Basin. Stage one of the paleoenvironmental model is marked by early Holocene
sea level rise and the mid-Holocene sea level highstand. Stage two is defined by a fall in sea level, at around 1900 B.P.,
from the mid-Holocene highstand to modern levels. The paleoenvironmental model suggests that the floodplain and other lowlands
suitable for irrigated rice agriculture formed after 1900 B.P., prior to which a large paleoestuary filled the Fuzhou Basin.
Do ancient Chinese textual records support the paleoenvironmental model? Are the ancient texts relevant in understanding the
anthropogenic contribution to environmental change in the Fuzhou Basin? Textual records covering nearly 2000 years of Chinese
history reveal close agreement among the paleoenvironmental and text-based geographic models. Agricultural systems based on
rain-fed fields may have existed during the mid-Holocene, but lowlands suitable for paddy field systems did not exist until
after 2000 B.P.
Citation: Rolett, B. V. (2012), Late Holocene evolution of the Fuzhou Basin (Fujian, China) and the spread of rice farming, in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by