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Subsistence and health in Middle Neolithic (9000–7000 BP) southern China: new evidence from the Dingsishan site

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2020

Simei Zhu
Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.R. China Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.R. China History College, Zhengzhou University, P.R. China
Fajun Li*
Department of Anthropology, Sun Yat-Sen University, P.R. China
Xianglong Chen
Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, P.R. China
Xianguo Fu
Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, P.R. China
Yaowu Hu*
Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology, Fudan University, P.R. China Institute of Archaeological Science, Fudan University, P.R. China
*Authors for correspondence: ✉ &
*Authors for correspondence: ✉ &


Early Holocene populations in southern China and Southeast Asia are generally considered to have continued practising hunting and gathering, while millet and rice cultivation developed to the north and east. Dingsishan, the oldest Holocene open-air site in South-east Asia, however, had yet to provide direct evidence for human health and subsistence strategies. The authors present isotopic and demographic analyses of Dingsishan individuals from 9000–7000 BP, indicating that the inhabitants relied on freshwater resources, particularly in the third period (c. 7000 BP). Comparison with contemporaneous farming populations also reveals a seemingly higher average life expectancy for the fisher-hunter-gatherers at Dingsishan.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Antiquity Publications Ltd.

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