A recent study suggests that rice was first domesticated in China around 9400 years ago, basing on radiocarbon dating of rice samples and phytoliths from the Shangshan site in the Lower Yangtze, China.
So far, rice remains recovered from the Shangshan site were recognized as the earliest examples of rice cultivation basing on radiocarbon dating of organic matter in pottery shards. But these might be contaminated with older carbon sources. Now, archaeologists developed new ways of isolating rice phytoliths (hard, microscopic pieces of silica made by plant cells for self-defense) from carbon sources, such as clays and carbonate. These isolated samples were analysed directly using radiocarbon dating, revealing that they were 9400 years old. Further studies showed that approximately 36 percent of rice phytoliths at Shangshan had more than nine fish-scale decorations, less than the approximately 67 percent counted from modern domesticated rice, but larger than the approximately 17 percent found in modern wild rice, meaning that rice domestication may have begun at Shangshan at about 10,000 years ago during the beginning of the Holocene. The time coincided with the domestication of wheat in the Near East and maize in northern South America, when the global climate experienced dramatic changes from cold glacial to warm interglacial.
(after Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Atlantic & Xinhua)