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Chinese & Roman Farming

Early Chinese and Roman Farming

markA Brief Comparative History of Farming in the Early Chinese and Roman Empires

Having reviewed this piece, some eigtheen months after writing it, I have concluded that some of it may have been unintentionally plagerised, due to it being somewhat incomplete. I apologise for this state of affairs and will ensure that this is rectified as soon as possible. For the time being it should be regarded as a "work in progress."

Early Chinese Farming

The earliest farming to have been identified in China is the cultivation of millet. This took place in the Yellow River valley from around 6000BC onwards. Alongside the arable process came the domestication of the chicken, this may have been as early as the start of this period, and the pig around 3000BC. Rice was grown in limited areas but remained an unimportant crop. Life was predominantly village based and focused on the farming requirements, although complex pottery work and religion were important. By 2000BC rice and wheat were being widely grown; these produced much higher yields but required irrigation and greater organization, resulting in the formation of non-farming groups within society. Wheat was predominately grown to the north of the Tsinling Mountains and rice to the south but subsidiary crops would have included soybean, other beans, sorghum, millet, fruits and vegetables. North of the line of the Great Wall food production remained nomadic pastoralism.

As the northern area was semi-arid, wheat and rice were grown in a rotation of one year fallow, one year crop. Farming technology became very developed but primarily geared to the dry northern environment. The ruling classes taxed the farmers in return for protection and the organisation of irrigation schemes, thus enabling the development of large cities, the northern protective walls, huge armies and lots of tax collectors! Over this period writing was developed and China moved into the Iron Age. By the time of the unification of China a complex civilization had been built on the back of the agricultural success.