Exploration of Food Resources by a Neolithic Community in Northern China: Perspectives from Stable Isotope Analysis

Visiting Scholar Talks

Feb 6, 2024 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA,


Dong Yu | Professor, Institute of Cultural Heritage, Shandong University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24


Noreen Tuross | Landon T. Clay Professor of Scientific Archaeology, Harvard University

Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

Food procurement constitutes an integral part of the everyday life of ancient people. Were people to obtain food differently, i.e. whether they forage, hunt, fish, cultivate, or herd, it would demand not only different toolkits and skillsets, but also different ways of organization of labor. In this talk, I will present a case study on the subsistence at Jiaojia site (ca. 5000-4500 BP), a regional center in late Neolithic northern China. By integrating evidence from archaeobotany, archaeozoology, and stable isotopes (carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur isotopes), we found that a wide variety of food resources were utilized by Jiaojia people. Even though millets cultivation and pig husbandry started in this region 3000 years ago before Jiaojia’s era, hunting and fishing were still important for Jiaojia people. Our findings highlighted the significance of aquatic resource consumption in Neolithic northern China for the first time. In addition, we also shed light on how the landscape around Jiaojia may have been back then.