Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vii

Contents

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pp. viii-ix

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

This book covers the development of the Chinese food system from earliest times into the Ming Dynasty. Most attention is devoted to recent work on predynastic China and on the Yuan Dynasty, since these are both key to the system and the subjects of recent major research. Considerations of space have made me leave most of Ming and all of Qing and postimperial China for other venues,...

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Usage

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pp. xi-xiii

I use standard transcriptions of the relevant languages.
Herein, for western Asia and northern Africa, “Near East” applies to ancient and medieval times, “Middle East” to the modern zone so called. “West Asia” excludes North Africa but includes some borderlands such as the Caucasus. “West Asia and North Africa” would be far preferable to either of the...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

Chinese food has swept the world. In general, “globalization,” whatever else it may be, has generally meant the spread of American popular culture. The cultural forms that have “swum upstream,” spreading worldwide in the teeth of American advances, are thus of special interest. Among such cultural ways, Chinese food has an almost unique place. Almost no town on earth is without...

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Chapter 1: Prehistoric Origins Across Eurasia

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pp. 15-34

China has been inhabited by humans for perhaps a million years. Here we speak, of course, of the geographical region now occupied (and overflowed) by the nation-state “China.” The region is a compact, tightly defined one, bordered by mountains and deserts, but it had no name until the Qin Dynasty unified its inner, richer districts and gave a name that slowly became fixed on...

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Chapter 2: China’s Early Agriculture

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pp. 35-54

In China, at the same time, men and women were domesticating rice and millets, developing the first farming systems, and probably experimenting with other early farming activities. Soon afterward, in the Americas, men and women domesticated maize, potatoes, chiles, llamas. . . . The list goes on....

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Chapter 3: The Origins of Chinese Civilization

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pp. 55-90

Development from the Paleolithic through the Neolithic to the rise of early states, in China, shows a remarkably even progress. Local declines were bal-anced by local growth elsewhere. Village societies merged into larger- scale ones, and ultimately into the first states, showing a steady rise in complexity of settlement patterns and technology, a rise in the importance of cultivated ...

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Chapter 4: The Development of China’s Sustainability During Zhou and Han

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pp. 91-135

The most dramatic single document in Chinese environmental history is Mencius’s famous parable of the “Ox Mountain”:

There was a time when the trees were luxuriant on the Ox Mountain. As it is on the outskirts of a great metropolis, the trees are constantly lopped by axes. Is it any wonder that they are no longer fine? With the...

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Chapter 5: Dynastic Consolidation Under Han

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pp. 136-151

Qin collapsed in 207 BCE, but the imperial government of Han was not fully in place until 202. At this point Lu Jia told Liu Bei, the first emperor: “You won the empire on horseback, but can you rule it from horseback?” Liu saw he could not and set up a bureaucracy. The remark became famous and was recycled centuries later by Yelü Chucai, among others, instructing the steppe...

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Chapter 6: Foods from the West: Medieval China

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pp. 152-181

In the unsettled period after the fall of Han, Chinese successor states fought each other to exhaustion, and “barbarians” conquered northern China. Starting in or before 311 CE, Central Asian states began serious conquests in China, sacking cities and later taking over all the north. The Xianbei, a group living under Xiongnu rule, emerged to acquire much of its territory when the Xiongnu...

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Chapter 7: The Mongols and the Yuan Dynasty

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pp. 182-242

For a very short while at the height of Mongol power, one huge global system dominated all Eurasia. If Ferdinand von Richtofen had not blessed the Central Asian trade route complex with the cognomen Silk Road in 1877 (Hill 2009: xii), we could well have called it the Eurasian information superhighway. In...

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Chapter 8: Shifting Grounds in Ming

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pp. 243-254

The most amazing thing about Ming is that the dynasty lasted almost 300 years—in spite of a definitely eccentric royal family, a corrupt government, and an incompetent and thinly stretched bureaucracy. Ming’s royal family had a touch of paranoia (literally; not a loose use of the word), which led to mass murders of intellectuals and innovators. The founder, Zhu Yuanzhang, killed...

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Chapter 9: Overview: Imperial China Managing Landscapes

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pp. 255-282

China— that is, something like the current geographical expanse we call China— has been united under seven dynasties. First was Qin, which, though short-lived, united the country and gave it its name. These dynasties lasted an average of around 250 years, but the range was vast: from 14 years for Qin to more than 400 for Han. The modal value was around 300. Also, Han (twice)...

Appendix I: Conservation Among China’s Neighbors

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pp. 283-288

Appendix II: An Introduction to Central Asian Food

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pp. 289-298

Bibliography

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pp. 299-330

Index

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pp. 331-340