Ancient Use of Wild and Domesticated Plants in Vietnam, 4500 BCE through 700 CE

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Friday 04 October 2019


Coombs Extension LT 1.04


Weiwei Wang


Weiwei Wang

Archaeobotanical research in Vietnam has provided insights into how people have used diverse wild and domesticated plants through a long time scale, as seen in a sequence of sites of hunter-gatherers as old as 4500 BCE all the way through Iron Age settlements of 700 CE. In a large-scale view, rice farming clearly transformed the regional landscapes after 2000 BCE, yet the roles of other plant foods have been difficult to ascertain until now with the ability to authenticate preserved remains of ancient starches and other microscopic evidence. These newest archaeobotanical discoveries have shown that varieties of yams, taro, acorns, and spices indeed contributed in ancient diets in various ways through time. At least as early as 4500 BCE, sites of hunter-gatherers have shown strong reliance on yams, taro, and acorns for example at Cai Beo in northern Vietnam. By 2000 BCE, people relied less on those roots and nuts, and instead they invested more in rice agriculture while they developed formalised residential village settlements. Later, during the first Centuries CE, spices can be verified at Oc Eo, known as a trading port of the Funan Kingdom. This research opens new opportunities for learning about the changing roles of wild and domesticated plants, especially powerful when combining the archaeobotanical observations with knowledge about associated food-processing tools, cooking debris, and larger site contexts in a chronological order.

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