Economic adaptation, community structure, and sharing strategies of households at early sedentary communities in northeast China

Gideon Shelach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations

Abstract

The genesis of agriculture is one of the recurring themes of Chinese archaeology. However, while questions about the origins of domesticated plants and animals and the date of their domestication have received much recent attention, anthropologically oriented research on early sedentary communities is a less developed field. This paper contributes to such research by focusing on the structure of early sedentary communities in northeast China and addressing such issues as their economic adaptation, the internal organization of households, economic activities and sharing strategies of household members, and mechanisms of community integration. Analysis of data from the Zhaobaogou site, the only early Neolithic site from northeast China for which a comprehensive excavation report was published, suggests that households were relatively independent production and consumption units with little sharing and exchange among households. The integration of the community was probably associated with non-economic activity such as religious rituals. Comparison of the patterns observed in the Zhaobaogou data with patterns from contemporaneous sites in the Wei River area highlights differences in the social organization of the early sedentary communities in the two areas. Those differences are meaningful for our understanding of the different socio-political trajectories of the two areas and may serve for cross-cultural comparisons with other parts of the world.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)318-345
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2006

Keywords

  • Agriculture
  • Household
  • Neolithic
  • Northeast China
  • Sharing strategies
  • Site structure
  • Zhaobaogou

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