Skip to content
UO Home | Arts & Sciences

Gyoung-Ah LEE

Associate Professor

Office: Condon 254
Office phone: 541-346-4442
Lab: Archaeobotany, Condon 265


Curriculum Vitae

Research Projects

Publication Archives

Teaching Interests


Areas of Interest
Dr. Lee joined the UO Anthropology in fall 2007. Her specialty is paleoethnobotany and East Asian Archaeology. She studies human-environmental interactions, social complexities, transitions to agriculture, ethnography of traditional farming, crop origins, and quantitative archaeology. Her chronological and geographic interests include Neolithic, Bronze, and early historical periods in Korea; the Neolithic to Shang periods in China; Jomon-Yayoi periods and Ainu history in Hokkaido; and Late Woodland & Iroquoian tradition in the eastern North America.

Prof. Gyoung-Ah Lee: Research Projects

Development of Agriculture and Political Economy in Central Plains, China

The Central Plains of north-central China, a birthplace of the early Chinese civilizations, are an ideal place to explore political economy in complex societies and agricultural origins. As a joint effort with the Yiluo Archaeology Project (Director Li Liu, Stanford University), I am examining paleoenvironmental conditions, agricultural technologies and specialization. This project has shed light on the transitional processes from foraging to farming and the roles of agriculture in shaping the political economy of early states over 5000 years.

Origins of Agriculture in Korea

This research focuses on archaeological and paleoenvironmental data on the Neolithic and Bronze/Iron periods (7500–1 BP). This research focuses on social interactions involved with spread of agriculture and the environmental impact of agriculture in prehistoric Korea. One of the research goals is to understand the impact of warmer climate on the Neolithic culture during the Mid-Holocene Climate Optimum period. The study on the long-term interactions of human societies and environments can serve as a reference point for our contemporary challenge, global warming. This research contributed to the Wenner Gren Symposium 2009, “The Beginnings of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas.”

Origins of Asian legumes, azuki and soybean

Despite the importance of azuki and soybean to the world economy, their origins have not yet been examined by archaeologists. The ongoing research reveals the possibility of multiple origins of soybean in East Asia by 5000 BP, much earlier than previously assumed. The new archaeological evidence should be a springboard for archaeologists, crop scientists and plant geneticists to collaborate on understanding cultural contributions, which may lead them to better soybean characteristics. Cultural knowledge could fill in gaps that relate to domestication and genetic changes of the legume. My interdisciplinary project with the crop scientists and other archaeologists in Canada, China, Japan, Korea, and US is documenting domestication in both the archaeological and phylogenetic perspectives.  (click here to see recent news on this research).

Research Links

Korean Archaeological Society

The National Museum of Korea

Chinese Archaeology (Kaogu)

Back to Top of Page

Prof. Gyoung-Ah Lee: Publication Archives

* All articles are the sole copyright of the respective publishers. Materials provided for educational use only.

2011    Lee, Gyoung-Ah (in press)

Estimating sample sizes and taphonomy of macroscopic plant remainsJournal of Archaeological Science. Available online Nov 4 2011.

2011    Lee, Gyoung-Ah, G. W. Crawford, L. Liu, Y. Sasaki, and C. Xuexiang

Archaeological soybean (Glycine max) in East Asia: does size matter? PLoS ONE Nov. 4. LINK.

2011    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Transition from foraging to farming in prehistoric Korea. Current Anthropology 52(S4):S307-S329. LINK.

2011    Lee, Gyoung-Ah, H. Yoon, M. Ko, and Chunyoung Kim

Plant use in the Nam River valley during the Neolithic period (in Korean with an English abstract). Journal of Yeongnam Archaeological Society 56(1): 5-42. LINK.

2011    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Archaeological perspectives on origins of East Asian pulses (in English). In Recent Progress in Ethnobotanical Research in East Asia: Proceedings of the International Symposium, Center for Cultural Heritage of the Seoul National University (ed.). Seoul National University, Seoul. Pp. 35-52.

2009    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Reviewing the early study of plant remains from the Heunamri site (in Korean). In New Approaches to Prehistoric Agriculture. S-M. Ahn and J-J. Lee (eds), pp. 302-310. Sahoe-Pyeongron Press, Seoul (in Korean).

2007    Lee, Gyoung-Ah, G. W. Crawford, L. Liu, and X. Chen.

Plants and People from the Early Neolithic to Shang periods in North China. PNAS 104(3): 1087-1092. LINK.

See also a newsletter in ‘This Issue’ Vol 104 Iss 3: 687-88, Anthropology: North China’s Earliest Crops. LINK.

2007    Lee, Gyoung-Ah and S. Bestel

Contextual analysis of plant remains at the Erlitou-period Huizui site, Henan, China. Bulletin of Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association 27: 49-60. LINK.

2007    L. Liu, Gyoung-Ah Lee, L. Jiang, and J. Zhang.

Evidence for the beginning of rice domestication in China: a response to Fuller et al. The Holocene 17(8):1059-1068. LINK.

2007    L. Liu, Gyoung-Ah Lee, L. Jiang, and J. Zhang

The earliest rice domestication in China. Antiquity Project Gallery 81(313). LINK.

2006    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Review of new data on rice domestication in China (in Korean with an English abstract). Journal of the Korean Archaeological Studies 61: 42-69. LINK.

2005    Crawford, G. W., A. P. Underhill, Z. Zhao, Gyoung-Ah Lee, G. Feinman, L. Nicholas, F. Luan, H. Yu, H. Fang, and F. Cai

Late Neolithic plant remains from northern China: preliminary results from Liangchengzhen, Shandong (report). Current Anthropology 46(2): 309-317. LINK.

2005   Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Review of the perspectives on Korean Neolithic cultivation from archaeobotanical remains. Journal of the Korean Neolithic Research Society 10: 27-49. LINK.

2004    Lee, Gyoung-Ah, A. M. Davis, J. H. McAndrews, and D. G. Smith

Identifying fossil wild rice (Zizania) pollen from Cootes Paradise, Ontario: a new approach using scanning electron microscopy. Journal of Archaeological Science 31(4): 411-421. LINK.

2004    Crawford, G. W., Zhao, F. Luan, J., H. Yu., F. Hui, A. P. Underhill, Gyoung-Ah Lee,

G. Feinman, and L. Nicholas

Preliminary research on plant remains from the Longshan-period Liangchengzhen site, Shandong. Kaogu (Archaeology) 2004(9): 73-80. LINK.

2003    Crawford, G. W. and Gyoung-Ah Lee

Agricultural Origins in the Korean Peninsula. Antiquity 77(295): 87-95. LINK.

2000    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Recovery methods of plant remains and phytolith analysis in archaeology (in Korean). In The Origin of Prehistoric Rice Agriculture in Korea. H. J. Im (ed.), pp. 132-45. Hakyeun, Seoul.

1998    Lee, Gyoung-Ah

Current paradigm of paleoethnobotany and its perspective in Korean archaeology (in Korean with an English abstract). Journal of Yeongnam Archaeological Society 23: 61-89. LINK.

1998    Lee, S.-k. and Gyoung-Ah Lee

Paleoethnobotanical Analysis of the Oun 1 Site along the Nam River (in Korean). In Research in the Nam River Dam Salvage Archaeological Project: Proceedings of the 7th Conference of the Yeongnam Archaeological Society. Yeongnam Archaeological Society (ed.), pp. 99–110. Yeongnam Archaeological Society, Jinju, South Korea.
Back to Top of Page

Prof. Gyoung-Ah Lee: Teaching Interests

ANTH 341 Food Origins

Group General-Education Requirement: Group III, Science group

The course aims to introduce scientific analysis of archaeological data on the origins of agriculture and domestication to non-science major students. The course covers up-to-date theories and data on why/how some hunter-gatherers became farmers and the social, cultural, environmental consequences associated with adopting agriculture around the world. By the end of the course students will gain a comprehensive knowledge on the long-term impacts of domestication and agriculture on societies and environments around the globe.

Last taught: Winter 2011

Next taught: Winter 2012

ANTH 345 Archaeology of East Asia

Group General-Education Requirement: Group II, Social science group

Many of us probably heard about the ambiguous word, ‘East Asia’ through mass media, reporting the political ups and downs, economical booms and downfalls, films, and tourism. What is ‘East Asia’? One easy answer is the geographical definition, indicating the region where modern nations of China, Mongolia, Korea, and Japan stand. Then who are ‘East Asians’? What is the East Asian cultural identities? These questions are not so easy to answer in a word or two, and have fuelled fascinating research on the remote prehistory and early history. Through discussions, readings, and film watching, the course will navigate 40,000 years of developing East Asia.

Last taught: Winter 2011

Next taught: Winter 2012

ANTH 446/546 Practical Archaeobotany

This course introduces the principles and research procedures of archaeobotany (or paleoethnobotany), a sub-discipline of archaeology. The laboratory portion of the course covers the recovery methods of plant remains from archaeological sites, the identification of plant remains, and the quantitative and qualitative analysis of plant datasets. Along with laboratory training, students will participate in discussions focused on recent development and theoretical issues in archaeobotany.

Last taught: Spring 2011

Next taught: Spring 2012

ANTH 410/510 People and Plants

Plants are critical resources for every human society. Understanding how humans interacted with plants in the past and in current traditional societies is one of the key issues in anthropology and environmental studies. The weekly topics for discussion include the research history of plant exploitation, prehistoric/historic data on wild plant use and cultivation, ecological and environmental approaches, pre-industrial, traditional agricultural techniques, and cultural roles and meanings of dietary and other plants around the world.

Last taught: Spring 2011

Next taught: Spring 2012

Back to Top of Page