Research jointly conducted by Chinese and U.S. scientists concluded that rice cultivation may have started in east China's Hunan province.
In the Shanlonggang archeological site in Linli county in the city of Changde, some carbonized paddy rice dating back more than 8,000 years were discovered Tuesday afternoon, researchers said.
The research team will further study the rice to find out whether it is wild or cultivated, said Li Yiyuan, a researcher from the Hunan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
Ofer Bar-yosef, a professor from Harvard University, said if the newly discovered paddy can be proved to have been cultivated, it would be the oldest such rice discovered to date.
The archaeological excavation started Nov. 1, and is jointly conducted by experts from the Hunan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Harvard University, Peking University and Boston University.
The Shanlonggang archeological site, discovered in 2005, is considered a relic of the Neolithic period.
Besides the rice, some other objects, including stoneware, pottery and animal bones, have also been also unearthed at the site.