Starch grain analysis reveals function of grinding stone tools at Shangzhai site, Beijing
【摘要】：Prehistoric groundstone tools including slabs (metate, mo-pan) and mullers (mano, mo-bang) are often considered to be tools that were used to process cereals in ancient China. Most archaeologists believe that groundstone tools are indicators of an agrarian economy. This study employed starch grain analysis to examine a slab and a muller excavated from the Shangzhai Site (7500-7000 cal a BP), Beijing. Identifiable starch grains recovered from the stone tools were classified into 9 genera and 12 species, most of which were from acorns and foxtail millets. Remains from the oak species Q. mongolicus, Q. acuttssima, and Q. dentate were identified as well as a few starch grains from broomcorn (Panicum miliaseum) and bean (Vigna sp.). Other starch grains were from unidentifiable roots and grasses. A variety of starch grains indicates that the grinding stone tools were used to process not only cereals, but also other seeds or roots that had to be ground or husked, thus bringing into question the aforementioned cereal hypothesis. Because the numbers of starch grains from nuts and millets were so large, both gathering and cultivation might have been important economic patterns before 7000 years ago in Beijing area. Moreover, the starch remains are derived from plants that indicate that the paleoclimate of Beijing was wetter and warmer than today’s.