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People in Construction: Insights from Ethnographic, Historic, and Archaeological Accounts in China

Author(s): Liye Xie

Year: 2017

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Labor recruitment and management are essential to accomplish massive public construction in ancient times, as in today. Archaeologists across the world have examined ethnographic accounts and conducted experiments to understand labor costs and organizational structure for construction and maintenance of large architectural projects. Common conclusions are that the workforce in monument construction during the pre-Iron age could have been easily recruited by non-state level polities.

However, past research has overlooked the time pressure of completing the construction within a given period and the challenges from scheduling conflicts with other important activities such as farming. The research presented here examined historic and ethnographic accounts to understand the seasonal availability of laborers and the allocation strategies for laborers in historic China. In addition, the research examined the time frame of public construction and source of laborers at the Erlitou urban center, 1750-1520 BCE. The results will help archaeologists reexamine the labor management strategies in prehistoric China and worldwide.

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People in Construction: Insights from Ethnographic, Historic, and Archaeological Accounts in China. Liye Xie. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430786)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14381

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America