GEOGRAPHICAL RESEARCH ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (12): 2927-2940.doi: 10.11821/dlyj020181293

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Reconstruction of cropland distribution in the Late Neolithic period in Northern China

CHEN Qiangqiang1, LIU Fenggui2(), FANG Xiuqi3, ZHOU Qiang1, CHEN qiong1, CHEN Ruijie1   

  1. 1. College of Geographic Sciences, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China
    2. Academy of Plateau Science and Sustainability, Xining 810008, China
    3. Department of Geography, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
  • Received:2018-11-21 Revised:2019-04-09 Online:2019-12-20 Published:2019-12-25
  • Contact: LIU Fenggui E-mail:lfg_918@163.com

Abstract:

Since the Holocene, the origin of agriculture has contributed to the intensification of human activities across the globe, and its development in the Late Neolithic period (about 7-5 ka B.P. in China) was in the transition from slash-and-burn agriculture to lei-and-si ploughing, which was considered to be the key period for human activities to change the natural environment. Fortunately, the rich archaeological sites in Northern China documented various human activities during this period. In this study, we choose the archaeological data and using the archaeology associated modeling method to calculate the size of the population and the cultivated land area of the settlement sites in Northern China in the Late Neolithic period, and then to reconstruct the spatial pattern of the cultivated land. The results showed that: (1) There were at least 506 100 people in Northern China in the Late Neolithic period, and Henan province had the largest population (about 304 600), followed by Shandong and Hebei provinces (about 137 200 and 64 300 people, respectively). (2) In the study period, the area of cultivated land was 102.22×10 4 hm 2, which accounted for 4.6% of the modern cultivated land. For the whole study area, the average reclamation index reached 1.99% in this period. Like the pattern of population size, the cultivated land area and the reclamation rate for Henan province were the largest, reaching 61.52×10 4 hm 2 and 3.68%, respectively, followed by Shandong and Hebei provinces, both the cultivated land area and the reclamation rate were approximately 27.72×10 4 hm 2 and 1.75%, and 12.98 ×10 4 hm and 0.69%, respectively. (3) In the 3-km range of the historical sites, the main distribution area of individual settlement cultivated land accounted for about 83.43% of the total cultivated area; (4) On spatial scale, 63.36% of cultivated land was located in the low-altitude plain and platform areas, and only 2.43% was located in the higher-altitude areas (above 1000 m). In terms of slope, 81.55% of cultivated land was located in areas less than 2°, 16.61% was found between 2°~6° of the gentle slope, and in the 6°~15° slope areas, the cultivated land area only accounted for 1.84%.

Key words: Late Neolithic, Northern China, cropland, spatial distribution