New Perspectives on the Archaeology of Economics in China

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Archaeological research in China has traditionally focused on long distance interactions between groups of cultures. An unfortunate result of this approach has been to stress the movement of goods over the sociopolitical implication of the interactions. This session aims to draw attention to the anthropological aspects of economy by focusing on processes of production, exchange, and consumption at a local scale. Contributors will examine the relationship of subsistence and utilitarian economies to local systems of social organization. A focus on small-scale communities rather than large culture areas has required researchers to pursue innovative methods and theories. This session will thus also explore the application and significance of this scholarship to the broader field of Chinese archaeology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-9 of 9)

  • Documents (9)

  • Backgrounds of emergence of the early states in central and northern China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Xiangming Dai.

    Traditionally Erlitou was considered the capital city of the first kingdom——the Xia dynasty, in Chinese history. However, an increasing amount of archaeological data in the past decades have suggested that Taosi was the first state-level society earlier than Erlitou emerging in central China. With the amazing discoveries of the Shimao walled site in north Shaanxi province in the past several years, I offered that Shimao was another early state appearing in northern China, which was approximately...

  • Bioarchaeology, human ecology, and subsistence change in ancient China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Elizabeth Berger.

    This paper will explore the links between bioarchaeology and human ecology, and how they can contribute to studies of ancient Chinese subsistence. Both fields deal with similar types of data, including measures of nutritional status, fertility, disease burden, food production, and human-environment interaction. However, the two fields differ widely in both the time scale and the resolution of their data. Can models from human ecology inform bioarchaeological research? Can the long time scale...

  • Craft production and domestic economies of the prehistoric Chengdu Plain, southwest China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kuei-chen Lin.

    The Chengdu Plain has been home to several large walled settlements and many small villages since the late Neolithic era. Evidence from several sites suggests that multiple types of economic and subsistence production were usually coupled within a given community. Such activities might have mutually influenced one another while sharing or competing for resources, including labor and customers. Although some artisans possibly produced luxury goods or gifts used on special occasions, most of the...

  • Early Neolithic plant exploitation in East China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Guiyun Jin. Fuqiang Wang.

    Early Neolithic plant exploitation is a key subject for understanding the subsistence strategies of late hunter-gatherers and early farmers. As archaeobotany has developed in China, plant remains, together with other ecofacts, have been recovered from several early Neolithic sites around Shandong Highlands, East China. Preliminary results show changes in the role of plant resources. At about 10000 year BP, the inhabitants of Bianbiandong Cave relied mainly on animal food with very small amount...

  • Economic differentiation in Hongshan core zone communities: A geochemical perspective (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tao Li.

    It is proposed that a greater degree of differentiation between households in Hongshan villages (4500-3000 BC) in northeast China with regard to productive activities implies a greater degree of economic interdependence between households and a more complex economy, which possibly provides leaders with enhanced opportunities to mobilize labor toward such ends. Analysis of household artifact assemblages in the Hongshan periphery has indicated some very modest levels of productive differentiation...

  • A Geoarchaeological Investigation of Ancient Agricultural Fields at Sanyangzhuang Site, Henan Province, China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Zhen Qin.

    Over the last 10,000 years, agriculture has gradually replaced hunting and gathering, and become the dominant food resource. Because of their extreme importance agricultural issues have attracted much academic attention; a wide variety of new perspectives and understandings, especially concerning agricultural origins, have been gained in the past few decades. However, there is a huge intellectual gap between the extensive agriculture soon after the earliest domestication and intensive...

  • Local and Regional Economics in Northeast China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only James Williams.

    Food production and other forms of economic activity manifest at both local and regional scales. In some instances population density within one community may lead to stress at the local scale. The region can, however, mitigate local stresses through regional exchange between small polities. In the same way that household exchange mitigates the risk of a single community, inter-community exchange mitigates risk for many communities regionally. This paper will explore both regional and local...

  • Modeling a rapid transition in subsistence regimes in highland western China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jade D'Alpoim Guedes.

    The highlands of western Sichuan (or Eastern Tibet) experienced a profound change in both settlement patterns and in subsistence regimes when a shift from a millet-based agriculture to wheat and barley based agro-pastoralism took place c. 2000 cal. BC. Using a model that predicts the changing possible distribution of crops across the area, we examine the role that changes in ancient climate could have played in the reversal of subsistence practices in this area. SAA 2015 abstracts made...

  • A tale of two towns: Demographic and economic change in two middle Yangzi communities (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Camilla Kelsoe. Dong Li.

    The late Neolithic marked the emergence of a new kind of settlement pattern in the middle Yangzi river valley. During this period, large, tightly nucleated communities, many of which were surrounded by moats or walls, rapidly replaced the dispersed hamlets and small villages of the middle Neolithic. This dramatic transition in settlement organization may have been associated with significant changes in social and economic relations between individuals both within and between settlements. To...