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Latest advances in archaeological studies on Yangtze River civilization
Author:Li Tao  Date:2021-09-15  Clicks:

On August 24, the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (JASR), an international academic journal, published online new scientific research from WHU’s School of History and Archaeological Institute for Yangtze Civilization.

The paper is entitled Compositional study of household ceramic assemblages from a Late Neolithic (5300–4500 cal BP) earthen walled-town in the middle Yangtze River valley of China. Dr. Li Tao, a young teacher from the Archaeological Institute for Yangtze Civilization, is the first author. He and Dr. Shan Siwei are co-corresponding authors.

Social complexity is an important part of the study on the origin of civilization and a frontier issue in archaeology. In addition to environmental, demographic, religious and warfare perspectives, handicraft production remains an essential factor employed by scholars from home and abroad to clarify the generation and development mechanism of social complexity. A new trend in research on the ceramic handicraft industry for nearly a decade has been the further exploration of economic network population difference and social classification on a smaller spatial scale by analyzing the production, circulation and consumption of daily-use ceramics, which has also been a relatively weak link in the current study of prehistorical complex society in the middle and lower Yangtze River.

During the Qujialing period (5300-4500 ago), the middle reaches of the Yangtze River for the first time achieved cultural integration on a wide scale. Large walled-towns, hierarchical settlements, tomb grading, remote exchange or trade, etc., are widely considered as representing the emergence of social complexity. Scholars have tried to understand the appearance and development of the prehistorical walled-towns in the middle Yangtze River from the perspectives such as demographics, social conflict and natural events (e.g. flood), which can explain the appearance of the social complexity to some extent. However, scholars have not yet systematically explored the role of handicraft production in the process of social complexity in the middle Yangtze River. As one of the typical early walled-towns, the Zoumaling site is the earliest inner and outer double-wall structure in China. There are obvious differences in the size, structure and unearthed items of the households in the inner town residential areas, allowing a distinction to be made between higher-rank households and ordinary households. Exploring the differences in status between households and their causes is of great significance to an understanding of complex society of the Zoumaling site and the Qujialing period.

The study concludes that pottery production in the city was a pattern of local production and local consumption during the Qujialing period, with the clay used to produce pottery sourced in and around the inner city's Xishuimen, and a general and strong dependence on pottery producers (in other words, the division between agricultural and pottery producers is clear). Furthermore, there is little difference between the two households (hh4 and hh10) in terms of access to and consumption of pottery from different sources, reflecting the largely undifferentiated position of the occupants of the two households in the pottery distribution and consumption network. Based on these judgments, the study concludes that the differences between the two households are not related to pottery production, circulation and consumption, and that by controlling the circulation and consumption of everyday pottery does not explain the household differences that occur in the inner city of Qujialing. The interpretation of the social complexity of the Zoumaling site will need to be further explored in the future in the context of phytoarchaeology, zooarchaeology and settlement morphology.

Two anonymous reviewers of JASR concluded that the study opens up new research ideas by comparing two households of a wide difference in scale from the Qujialing period at the Zoumaling site from the aspect of chemical composition in daily ceramics.

This research was funded by the National Social Science Foundation of China under a major project entitled “Archaeological data collation and research of the Zoumaling prehistoric walled-town” (19ZDA231) and by the Wuhan University “Double First-Class” construction talent start-up fund. The Zoumaling site is an important part of “Archaeological China - research on the civilization process in the middle Yangtze River” and a new development in the study of early social complexity in the middle Yangtze River.

Link to the paper: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1ddtB,rVDBY7Q%7E

Rewritten by Lin Hanfei

Edited by Chen Jiaqi, Qin Zehao& Yu Jianan

Source: http://news.whu.edu.cn/info/1015/65199.htm


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