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10,000-Year-Old Rice Discovered in China

Friday, June 2, 2017

rice bullliform phytolithsSHANGSHAN, CHINA—According to a report in The Atlantic, a team in China has radiocarbon-dated rice phytoliths from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River to nearly 10,000 years ago. Poor preservation at the Shangshan site makes it unclear whether the earliest microscopic pieces of silica came from domesticated, wild, or transitional rice plants, but the grains are thought to have been small, thin, and easily scattered. Archaeologists have also found imprints of rice husks on pieces of pottery, in addition to stone tools that could have been used for milling. The scientists note that the surface patterns on the phytoliths changed over time. The markings on the youngest samples resemble those found on more modern, domesticated rice phytoliths. For more on archaeology in China, go to “World's Oldest Pants.”

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