label r shifted
Session B6
Phytoliths Evidence for Rice Cultivation at 3500 Years Ago, O-Luan-Pi site II, Kenting Area
李作婷 Tsuo-Ting Lee
Division of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural Science, Taiwan
李匡悌 Kuang-Ti Li
Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

O-Luan-Pi site II of Kenting area is located in the southernmost area of Taiwan.

Archaeologists in Taiwan have regarded that the Neolithic settlement in Kenting relied heavily on marine resources with no direct evidence of crop farming. For a long time, archaeologists who work in this area took stone knives or sickle, hypothetical agriculture implements based on ethnographic analogy, as a proxy for the existence of grain agriculture. In recent years, carbonized rice and millet remains were not rare across sites in Taiwan. However, there were no such findings in the Kenting area. It is considered that high temperature and humidity makes organic materials difficult to preserve in soil. For that reason, an approach from phytolith analysis, a method that examines the inorganic amorphous sillicon dioxide matters extracted from soil, is used to analyze the samples from OLP site II.

 Phytoliths occur when a plant absorb ground water and obtain precipitated monosilicic acid within cell walls. After the plant is dead, phytoliths which remain the shape of the cell were preserved and deposited into soil. Significant correlations are found between the shape of phytoliths and the source plant's taxon and the kind of cell. Therefore, phytoliths found in ancient soil can be used to make identifications of certain taxa of plants below the level of family. For example, in the Poaceae family, bilobate or cross-shape phytoliths (short cell) and bulliform phytoliths(motor cell) both are significantly for genus or species level identification.

 The early stage of rice cultivation is an important archaeology topic in Taiwan, archaeologists are interested in how did it occur in Taiwan and its connections with the oldest rice farming system of East Asia. In this study, we report new findings that provide evidence of rice cultivation in Kenting, ca. 4000-3,500 B.P. We identify the phytoliths from leaf and husk of Oryza Sativa. Moreover, the bulliform phytoliths phytoliths from motor cell of leaf suggest that people in OLP site II were not just obtaining rice grains, but actually cultivating it. 

Besides the production of rice, the role of rice in this period is also concerned since the context of OLP site II indicates a subsistence that emphasized on the usage of marine resources. We also identified millet-type phytoliths in the present study as well, suggested that rice may not be the only crop in the farming system. Overall, we shall consider the early residents of Kenting had an access to not only marine resources, but also a broad spectrum of plant resources.