Acta Anthropologica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 40 ›› Issue (05): 764-775.doi: 10.16359/j.cnki.cn11-1963/q.2020.0074

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Stable isotope analysis reveals an agricultural economy in Southeast Inner Mongolia during the Warring States period

LIU Xiaodi1,2(), WEI Dong3, WANG Tingting4, ZHANG Xinyu5, HU Yaowu6,7()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Vertebrate Evolution and Human Origins, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100044
    2. Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3. School of Archaeology, Jilin University, Changchun 130012
    4. Anthropology Department, School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yet-Sen University, Guangzhou 51025
    5. Archaeological Institute, The National Museum of China, Beijing 100006
    6. Department of Cultural Heritage and Museology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
    7. Institute of Archaeological Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433
  • Received:2019-08-19 Revised:2020-02-24 Online:2021-10-15 Published:2021-10-15
  • Contact: HU Yaowu;


Southeastern Inner Mongolia is the central area for the origins of millet agriculture in the Liaoxi region of north China, and is a strategic region for competition between agricultural and nomadic groups. In the early-middle Warring States period, this area was mainly a settlement for northern ethnic groups with diverse ethnic cultures and complex economic activities. In the late Warring States period, expansion of the Central Plain dynasties and their progressive cultivation skills led to a uniformity of culture and population in the area. Few studies have focused on the status of this agricultural economy and its profound impacts on the integration of the population and culture in southeastern Inner Mongolia throughout these times. Here, we analyzed 67 bones and teeth from the Shuiquan and Dashanqian tombs in Chifeng for stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N). The results showed that the ancestors predominantly consumed C4 foods including foxtail millet and broomcorn millet, or animals that depended on these products, which reveals a dietary pattern based on millet cultivation and animal husbandry. Fishing was also an important supplement based on certain isotopic data. The present paper further reviews several other stable isotope studies in this area, indicating that the consumption of millet not only played a predominant role, but also provided the material basis for fusion of different populations and cultures during the Warring States period.

Key words: Archaeology, Warring States, Inner Mongolia, Millet agriculture, Stable isotopes

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