Research A03

Various aspects of occupations from the perspectives of ethno-archaeology and chemical analysis
Chief researcher: Aoi Hosoya

Our research group conducts mainly two directions of research; 1) chemical analyses of food residue adhering to food processing artifacts excavated from the Neolithic remains in the lower Yangtze Valley basin, and 2) ethnographic research and data collection on traditional food processing techniques in south China.

For the 1), carbon/nitrogen isotope analyses and starch residue analyses are applied to carbonized food residue remaining in cooking pottery. Those analyses techniques have recent been developed as a part of archaeological research, being quite promising for reconstruction of ancient foodways. In addition, patterning of soot and burnt marks on cooking pottery is analyzed to reconstruct cooking methods. Furthermore, wooden artefacts, which are comparatively well preserved in the Tianluoshan site, one of two major research fields of our research, are studied focusing on food processing tools.  Combining the wooden artefacts analyses with the pottery analyses above, we aim at reconstructing the whole food processing sequences. Based on that, proportion and frequency of eating rice will be estimated to discuss the importance of rice compared with other types of food (e.g. wild nuts) and the chronological shifts. Eventually, referring to the ethnographic research results below, and also collaborating with other research groups, we will develop the discussion towards the issues of shifts in social organizations and world views by the introduction of rice farming.

For the 2), we conduct interviews and observation research on traditional food processing techniques and strategies to exploit natural resources in south Chinese villages and in the research target area of the lower Yangtze Valley basin. In the research, we focus on collecting information on material culture, namely food processing tools, and states of social organizations of food processing routines. Particularly, ethnographic data on material culture related to food processing have hardly been collected in China so far, so our data collection itself will be a quite significant database.

We will conduct the research above with a comparative view of two types of early rice farming areas; the one where further intensification of rice production did not happen, and the one where it happened to form rice farming based society.

Our group includes the following experts in the above fields of analysis and investigation.

Aoi Hosoya (Chief researcher) : Coordination of the studies / Ethnographic research of traditional food processing techniques
Masashi Kobayashi (Co-researcher) : Analysis of the patterns of soot and burn marks on cooking pottery
Yasutami Nishida (Co-researcher) : Analysis of lipid and starch residues on pottery
Yumiko Murakami (Collaborative researcher) : Analysis of wooden artifacts used for food processing
Yang Ping (Collaborative researcher) : Ethnographic research of traditional techniques for use of the environment
Shinya Shoda (Foreign joint researcher) : Carbon/Nitrogen isotope analyses of food residues in cooking pottery
Long Chun Lin (Foreign joint researcher) : Mediator for the areas of ethnographic research and information provision