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The Agricultural Revolution in PrehistoryWhy did Foragers become Farmers?$
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Graeme Barker

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281091

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199281091.001.0001

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Rice and Forest Farming in East and South-East Asia

Rice and Forest Farming in East and South-East Asia

(p.182) 6 Rice and Forest Farming in East and South-East Asia
The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory

Graeme Barker

Oxford University Press

East and South-East Asia is a vast and diverse region (Fig. 6.1). The northern boundary can be taken as approximately 45 degrees latitude, from the Gobi desert on the west across Manchuria to the northern shores of Hokkaido, the main island of northern Japan. The southern boundary is over 6,000 kilometres away: the chain of islands from Java to New Guinea, approximately 10 degrees south of the Equator. From west to east across South-East Asia, from the western tip of Sumatra at 95 degrees longitude to the eastern end of New Guinea at 150 degrees longitude, is also some 6,000 kilometres. Transitions to farming within this huge area are discussed in this chapter in the context of four major sub-regions: China; the Korean peninsula and Japan; mainland South-East Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, the Malay peninsula); and island South-East Asia (principally Taiwan, the Philippines, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and New Guinea). The chapter also discusses the development of agricultural systems across the Pacific islands to the east, both in island Melanesia (the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands east of New Guinea) and in what Pacific archaeologists are terming ‘Remote Oceania’, the islands dotted across the central Pacific as far as Hawaii 6,000 kilometres east of Taiwan and Easter Island some 9,000 kilometres east of New Guinea—a region as big as East Asia and South-East Asia put together. The phytogeographic zones of China reflect the gradual transition from boreal to temperate to tropical conditions, as temperatures and rainfall increase moving southwards (Shi et al., 1993; Fig. 6.2 upper map): coniferous forest in the far north; mixed coniferous and deciduous forest in north-east China (Manchuria) extending into Korea; temperate deciduous and broadleaved forest in the middle and lower valley of the Huanghe (or Yellow) River and the Huai River to the south; sub-tropical evergreen broad-leaved forest in the middle and lower valley of the Yangzi (Yangtze) River; and tropical monsoonal rainforest on the southern coasts, which then extends southwards across mainland and island South-East Asia. Climate and vegetation also differ with altitude and distance from the coast.

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