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The Chinese Neolithic (New Studies in Archaeology)by Li Liu
Synopses & Reviews
This book studies the formation of complex societies in prehistoric China, during the Neolithic and early state periods, ca. 7000-1500 BC. Archaeological materials are interpreted through anthropological perspectives, using systematic analytic methods in settlement and burial patterns. Both agency and process are considered in the development of chiefdoms and in the emergence of early states in the Yellow River region. Interrelationships between factors such as mortuary practice, craft specialization, ritual activities, warfare, exchange of elite goods, climatic fluctuations, and environmental changes are emphasised. This study offers a critical evaluation of current archaeological data from Chinese sources, and argues that, although some general tendencies are noted, social changes were affected by multiple factors in no pre-determined sequence. This is the most comprehensive study to date which attempts to reconstruct developmental trajectories toward early states in Chinese civilization and discusses theoretical implications of Chinese archaeology for the understanding of social evolution.
The Yellow River valley of China during the period ca. 7000 — 1500 saw the transformation of egalitarian societies into stratified chiefdoms giving rise to early states. This book examines that transformation, emphasising the interplay of many factors affecting these processes, such as climatic fluctuation, population movements, inter-group competition, warfare, and long-distance exchange of valuables. This book contains detailed archaeological data and general theoretical paradigms. It offers a comprehensive reconstruction of developmental trajectories toward social complexity during the Neolithic period, and locates prehistoric China within a global framework of social evolution.
Examination of the transformation of chiefdom societies in Neolithic China drawing on detailed archaeological data.
The Yellow River valley of China, during the period ca. 7000-1500, saw the transformation of egalitarian societies into stratified chiefdoms giving rise to early states. This book examines that transformation, emphasizing the interplay of many factors affecting these processes, such as climatic fluctuation, population movements, inter-group competition, warfare, and long-distance exchange of valuables.
About the Author
Dr. Li Liu is a senior lecturer in Archaeology at La Trobe University.
Table of Contents
List of illustrations; List of tables; Preface; 1. Setting the scene; 2. The changing environmental contexts of China's first complex societies; 3. Household subsistence and ritual; 4. Spatial organization and social relations in communities; 5. Community burial patterns; 6. Development and decline of complex societies in the Central Plains; 7. Development and decline of social complexity beyond the Central Plains; 8. Trajectories toward early states; 9. Reconstructing social processes; Notes; Appendixes; References; Index.
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