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Food and ritual resources in hunter-gatherer societies: Canarium nuts in southern China and beyond

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2019

Zhenhua Deng
Center for the Study of Chinese Archaeology, Peking University, 5 Yiheyuan Road, 100871, Beijing, P.R. China School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, 5 Yiheyuan Road, 100871, Beijing, P.R. China
Hsiao-chun Hung*
Department of Archaeology and Natural History, 9 Fellows Road, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2061, Australia
Zhen Li
Guangxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, 68 Keyuan Road, 530022, Nanning, P.R. China
Mike T. Carson
Micronesian Area Research Center, University of Guam, 303 University Drive, Mangilao, Guam 96913, USA
Qiang Huang
Nanning Museum, 15 Longdi Road, 530201, Nanning, P.R. China
Yunzhong Huang
Nanning Museum, 15 Longdi Road, 530201, Nanning, P.R. China
Houyuan Lu
Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beitucheng West Road, 100029, Beijing, P.R. China University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19 Yuquan Road, 100049, Beijing, P.R. China Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 16 Lincui Road, 100101, Beijing, P.R. China
*Author for correspondence (Email:


Archaeobotanical studies tend to concentrate on the evidence for specialised agricultural food production, with less attention directed towards the use of plant foods within hunter-gatherer contexts. Here, the authors present evidence for the exploitation of Canarium nuts from four late hunter-gatherer sites in southern China. Canarium nuts contributed to the inhabitants’ diets from as early as 9000 cal BP. They also identify new uses of Canarium, c. 4500–4400 cal BP, as ritual offerings in the context of the introduction of rice and millet farming. The results are examined in the context of Canarium use across the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2019

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