|For more information on recent dissertations on East
Asian Archaeology you may also consider:
Asian Archaeology Dissertation Reviews
As a new series Asian Archaeology is now being covered by Dissertation Reviews ( http://dissertationreviews.org/archives/5692 )
From the website:
We have another new series on Dissertation Reviews! We are very excited to add the Asian Archaeology to our ever-expanding family. “Asian Archaeology Dissertation Reviews” will bring you friendly, non-critical overviews of recently defended, unpublished dissertations, as well as guides for archives, libraries and collections around the world. If you wish to participate in Dissertation Reviews, please click here to become a reviewer or to have your dissertation reviewed. If you are interested in contributing a “Fresh from the Archives” or “Talking Shop” article, or helping out in some other way, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EAANnouncements discontinued in autumn 1998. Abstracts of dissertations on East Asian
archaeology have not been compiled nor published systematically since. This section therefore
provides not only abstracts of current MA and PhD theses. It is dedicated to also include
information on thesis completed in the years 1998 to 2006.
Please look up the guidelines for contributions.
FORD, Anne (2007),
Masters dissertation, Archaeology program, La Trobe University, Australia.
Stone Tool Production-Distribution Systems during the Early Bronze Age at Huizui, China.
|The Erlitou culture (1900-1500 BC) has been postulated as the
earliest state-level society in China, with evidence for social stratification,
palatial/temple remains, craft specialization and elite good production. Recent
research into the political economy of the Erlitou culture has identified a
complex system of resource procurement and elite good production. Several high
status items, including bronze and turquoise, were produced in circumscribed
areas associated with the palace areas of the Erlitou urban centre. These
restricted production areas, and the lack of these items within Erlitou regional
areas, has been argued as evidence for tight control by the Erlitou elite over
both the production and use of these items, thus maintaining their dominance of
symbolic elite items. Other subsistence and elite items may also have been
acquired by the Erlitou urban centre from its hinterland, including white
pottery, salt and copper and tin for producing bronze. Although the source of
white pottery is not yet known, the procurement of copper, tin and salt appears
to have involved the establishment of regional centres close to the raw material
sources, which has been argued as a method of controlling the access to these
particular goods through monopolizing the acquisition of the raw material. Based
on the presence of these regional centres, it has been argued that the Erlitou
culture developed into a centralized society, which expanded primarily to
acquire vital resources needed by the Erlitou urban centre.
As a contrast to the elite goods, this thesis examines the production and distribution of utilitarian items; grounds stone tools produced at the site of Huizui, located in the Yiluo River Basin, central China, during the Erlitou period. The study of stone tool production-distribution systems involves examining the lifecycle of a stone tool through exploring raw material procurement, manufacture, use and discard, and the locations of these activities. As all these steps involve a choice made by the tool producer or user, the mapping of these systems can provide insights into what factors motivated these choices, including social, economic, political or technological factors.
The current study used an economic approach to identify if differences could be observed between the systems. Efficiency was selected as the parameter for comparison as it provides an economic baseline, removed from culturally specific issues, against which to compare archaeological examples, and is also a flexible measure which can be used to understand all aspects of the systems.
Two different aspects of stone tool production at Huizui were explored; raw material procurement and on-site production. Raw material procurement was shown to be efficient for all of the tool types studied, with particular focus on distance to source and the functional and extractive properties of the raw materials. Efficiency in production was less clear, with scale of production instead the distinguishing factor.
In total, two different stone tool production-distribution systems were identified; the mass produced oolitic dolomite spades which appear to be distributed regionally, including to the Erlitou urban centre, and the locally produced and consumed adzes, axes, chisels, knifes and grinding slabs. Both of these systems appeared to be retained within the household context and may have operated independently of Erlitou elite control, which is a direct contrast to the heavily circumscribed production and distribution of elite items. This study also showed that whilst efficiency is a useful tool to elicit detailed information from the stone tool production-distribution systems, further parameters need to be included to provide a more accurate contrast between systems. .
SHŌDA Shinya (2006), Department of Archaeology, Graduate School, Chungnam National
University, Daejeon, Korea
(Supervised by Professor LEE Kang-seung)
Production and Society in the Southern Korean Bronze Age
|In southern Korea abundant archaeological data have been unearthed recently through
numerous rescue excavations. These data change our perspectives and interpretations of the Korean
Bronze Age from 'static' to 'dynamic'. My thesis puts special emphasis on the production activities
of this period – a perspective that has not been adopted sufficiently in previous studies.
In Chapter II, I investigate the chronology of the South Korean Bronze Age; this seems to be a most fundamental and important approach, but it has not been done satisfactorily yet. As a result, I divide the South Korean Bronze Age into the early and the late periods, and both of these were divided into four phases each. Also, I provide calendar years for the chronological model through cross-dating with the Chinese Central Plain and the Korean Peninsula.
In Chapter III, I introduce excavated materials related to production activities, such as carbonised crop remains, wet-fields, dry-fields, bronzes and their moulds, stone tools, and others. Chapter IV is about the production of pottery, and focuses especially on firing techniques by making use of ethnological and experimental approaches. It was revealed that the 'covered open firing method' was adopted at the end of the Early Bronze Age, and the method is characterized by the use of material such as grasses belonging to the rice family. Thus it seemed that at this stage the landscape of settlement was changing.
In Chapter V, I discuss craft production, especially bead-making. Through the analysis, I point out that there was a division of labour on intra and inter-settlement levels. Differences in the standardization of size and the tendency to uniformity are observed. This suggests that beads were distributed in small areas.
In Chapter VI, I discuss the relationship between production activities and the society of Bronze Age Southern Korea. Long-term continuous settlements were rarely found in the early period, but in the late period they appeared in each area. The appearance of this kind of settlement seems to have been connected to an increase in food production and intensification of networks among the investigated settlements. These factors appear to have been simultaneous and interactive. Furthermore, in the Late Bronze Age, we can observe hierarchical relations between large and small settlements, although there were no prominent individuals with chiefly power in both settlements and cemeteries.
DAI Xiangming (2004), Revised from Ph.D dissertation, Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, Australia
Pottery Production, Settlement Patterns, and Development of Social Complexity in the Yuanqu Basin, North-Central China
|This work investigates the development of social complexity and the changes of
modes of pottery production from the Neolithic to early Bronze Age in the Yuanqu Basin,
north-central China. The research focuses on the development of specialised pottery production in
different societies. Through settlement pattern studies, the author examines the social changes
during eight cultural periods from the Neolithic to the early Bronze Age (ca. 6200-1300 B.C.). The
settlement analyses address 46 sites, including seven excavated sites in the Yuanqu Basin. This
study argues that the initial and low-level specialisation might occur in the simple and
non-stratified society, and the dramatic change in the mode of pottery production or the degree of
specialisation is not necessarily related to the emergence and development of chiefdom-level
societies, but rather associated with the formation of state-level societies, as demonstrated by the
DAI Xiangming: Pottery Production, Settlement Patterns, and Development of Social Complexity in the Yuanqu Basin, North-Central China. BAR International Series 1502, Oxford: Archaeopress 2006. (ISBN 1841719390) viii+129 pages; 79 figures, maps, plans, drawings and photographs; 18 tables; 8 Appendices including Gazetteer and data
BAUSCH, Ilona (2003), PhD dissertation, Durham University, UK
The Social Context of Exotic Stone Exchange Networks in Central Japan During the Late Middle
|This dissertation presents a holistic, contextual approach to long-distance
exchange networks in Central Japan ca. 4000BP, by focusing on the conditions behind consumption,
circulation and production of exotic materials – particularly jadeite and amber. These were derived
from unique and spatially limited source areas: the Japan Sea Coast and the Pacific Coast,
respectively. Analysis is based on a sample of 175 sites located in Nagano, Yamanashi, Tōkyō,
Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures. Analysis of consumption patterns shows that (compared to other
artifact categories) stone ornaments, particularly jadeite and amber pendants, are far more
frequently associated with 'intentional deposition', namely mortuary contexts. This indicates that a
different value was ascribed to jadeite and amber pendants. However, other evidence of social
differentiation during the Middle Jōmon period is absent.
Statistical analysis of wider distribution patterns, focusing on the variability of site characteristics, supports the hypothesis that the presence of jadeite and/or amber pendants is strongly associated with 'core' settlements sites characterized by large house numbers, continuous habitation throughout the Middle Jōmon period, and evidence of ritual practices. The correlation with the presence of relatively high quantities of obsidian (used for arrowheads) proved to be strong. It is suggested that exploitation and export of nearby high-quality obsidian resources contributed to the prosperity and longevity of Japan Alps settlements. In the greater Tōkyō Plains area, settlements stable and influential enough to participate in the exchange networks are located at major rivers or coastal areas. Preliminary assessment of the conditions at production sites suggests different motives for part-time ornament production. It is hypothesized that inhabitants of the Japan Sea area—a hostile and isolated environment – may have engaged in fairly regular production and export of jadeite pendants and serpentinite polished adzes, in order to maintain interregional relations with other groups, possibly as a socio-economic safety net. In contrast, Pacific Coast inhabitants at Awashimadai site – in the absence of obvious environmental or subsistence constraints – may have produced amber pendants occasionally and intermittently, perhaps exchanging them on a more 'personal' basis, as hunting amulets between specialist hunters. However, further research involving subsistence patterns is essential for a deeper understanding of long-distance exchange network membership. Finally, it is suggested that instead of being individually-owned valuables, jadeite pendants (as 'esoteric', inalienable items, possibly associated with regenerative powers to the benefit of the natural world and the entire community), and have been circulated among certain settlements in an interregional exchange network, regulating relationships and creating a social context for different types of exchange. Perhaps mortuary contexts occurring from the late stage of the Middle Jômon period indicate the initiation of exchange relations with 'the other world'.
LI Xinwei (2003), Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, Australia
Development of Social Complexity in the Liaoxi Area, Northeast China
|This dissertation is a case study focusing on the long-term unique evolutionary
trajectory of the prehistoric Liaoxi area, Northeast China. The emergence and dramatic decline of
the Hongshan complex societies is the kernel of my interpretation. Data at three levels – household,
community and region, will be thoroughly investigated. The studies at household and community levels
are based on all the previously excavated typical sites. The basic data for the spatial study at the
regional level comes from my field survey in the Lower Bang River and Upper Laohushan River valleys,
Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia.
The structure of the dissertation follows the chronology of the prehistoric cultures in Liaoxi. An unusual persistence of hunting and gathering life characterized the Xinglongwa (cal. 6200-5200 B.C.) and Zhaobaogou (cal. 5200-4500 B.C.) periods. This persistence resulted in a unique transition towards food production and social complexity in the Hongshan period (cal. 4500-3000 B.C.). The transition to food production was an intentional adoption planned and controlled by the Hongshan elite, who purposely imported an agricultural way of life, and particularly, cosmological knowledge from the southern neighbours of Liaoxi. A newly created ideology based on cosmological knowledge thus played an essential role in the formation and operation of chiefdom-level Hongshan social complexity. An extreme emphasis on the new ideology within Hongshan societies determined their sacred inclination –a concentration on communication with the supernatural at the expense of secular affairs. This sacred inclination was responsible for both the dramatic glory in the Hongshan period and the sudden collapse in the Xiaoheyan period (cal. 3000-2600 B.C.)
The social developmental trajectory of the Liaoxi area is quite different from three other cultural regions of prehistoric China: the Lower Yangzi River area, the Lower Yellow River area and the Central Plains area. It is clear that each cultural region has its independent and characteristic social development trajectory. It is the particularity of each region, but not the interaction among them, that determined the initiation, formation, destruction or evolution of complex polities in each region. The supposed unity of prehistoric China is just a Utopia that will impede our real understanding of the origin of Chinese civilization.
MA Xiaolin (2003), Revised from Ph.D dissertation, Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, Australia
Emergent Social Complexity in the Yangshao Culture: Analyses of settlement patterns and faunal remains from Lingbao, western Henan, China (c. 4900-3000 BC)
|This book is an attempt to address the question of the emergence of social
complexity in the Yangshao culture (ca. 4900-3000 BC) in Central China based on analysis of
settlement patterns and faunal remains from Lingbao, western Henan. A total of 31 Neolithic sites
have been found along two rivers during a regional survey in 1999. A total of about 16000 bone
fragments weighing more than 64 kg have been recovered from a large site of Xipo during two field
seasons in 2000 and 2001. A total of 2832 fragments weighing 40173.85g in the middle Yangshao
assemblage have been identified to the species, genus or family level. About 84% of the bones are
from domestic pigs.
Analyses of regional settlement patterns reveal the emergence of social complexity in the middle Yangshao period (ca. 4000-3500 BC), indicated by dramatic population growth, increases in site number and occupation area, and the appearance of settlement hierarchies. Specific analysis of the functional change of large buildings through the Yangshao period sheds new light on the role of these buildings in the process of social complexity. Detailed faunal analyses focusing on frequencies of different taxa, kill-off patterns of pigs, and skeletal part representation, modification, fragmentation, and spatial distribution of major animal bones provide the information about environment, land-use, and subsistence activities related to the production, distribution, and consumption of animal products.
The results of this study suggest that the emergence of settlement hierarchy was the product of kin-based social aggregation and competition between different communities. The largest building of a site functioned in part as a place for hosting of public events such as ritual activities. Feasting was probably perceived to be a means of creating and reinforcing group unity and community identity, as well as competing for prestige between social groups. Pig rearing may have largely served such feasting, which in turn encouraged more intensive pig husbandry.
MA Xiaolin: Emergent Social Complexity in the Yangshao Culture: Analyses of settlement patterns and faunal remains from Lingbao, western Henan, China (c. 4900-3000 BC) BAR International Series 1453, Oxford: Archaeopress 2005.
SEYOCK, Barbara (2002), PhD dissertation, Eberhard-Karls-University Tuebingen, Germany
Spuren der Ostbarbaren
- Zur Archäologie protohistorischer Kulturen in Südkorea und Westjapan -
(Tracing the Eastern Barbarians - On the Archaeology of Protohistoric Cultures in South Korea and Western Japan -)
in German, with English abstract
|This Ph.D. dissertation investigates proto-historic cultures around the Korean Straits in a
period between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD. The author makes use of both historical
and archaeological materials to provide a deeper insight into the cross-cultural relations between
South Korea and the Northern Kyūshū area.
For the historical perspective, the first comprehensive written report on the so-called “Eastern Barbarians” – the Wei-chih Tung-i-chuan 魏志東夷傳 – serves as one of the main sources for an analysis of the cultures in question. It is therefore completely translated for the first time into a western language (German) and comprehensively annotated. The Wei-chih Tung-i-chuan contains the accounts of the Mahan 馬韓, Chinhan 辰韓, and Pyŏnhan 弁韓 communities in the Korean south as well as of the Wa people 倭人 on the Japanese archipelago.
From an archaeological point of view, the Han 韓 and Wa 倭 cultures correspond in time to the Korean Proto Three Kingdoms period (wŏnsamguk sidae 原三國時代, ca. 100 BC to 300 AD) and to the middle and late Yayoi period 弥生時代 of Japan respectively. After giving an outline of the development of the early cultures in Korea and Japan, the central parts of this book discuss the various archaeological sites of the early metal cultures in the south of the Korean peninsula and in Northern Kyūshū.
As a result of the interdisciplinary research it not only became clear that the historical source correlates in many ways with the conclusions of the archaeological research. It is also apparent that despite of regional differences between the single units the region around the Korean Straits shared a common culture with mutual relations and extensive trade connections. On both sides of the Korean Straits communities appeared that developed from independent smaller groups into greater geographical and political units with stratified societies on a high technological level. A joint cultural sphere, as a result, is assumed for the region and time in question, the culture of Han and Wa.
Barbara SEYOCK: Auf den Spuren der Ostbarbaren
- Zur Archäologie protohistorischer Kulturen in Südkorea und Westjapan - [=BUNKA - Tübinger interkulturelle und linguistische Japanstudien, BUNKA - Tuebingen intercultural and linguistic studies on Japan, Band/Volume 8] LIT-Verlag, Münster-Hamburg-Berlin-Wien-London 2004. (ISBN 3-8258-7236-x), XII+350 pages, 108 figures, 25 charts, 13 maps, glossary
WANG Shejiang (2002), PhD dissertation, Archaeology Program, La Trobe University, Australia
Perspectives on Hominid Behaviour and Settlement Patterns: A study of the Lower Palaeolithic sites in the Luonan Basin, China
|This study focuses on the Lower Palaeolithic archaeology of China. It examines early hominid
adaptive behaviour based on the new evidence from the Luonan Basin, northern China. Unlike past
Chinese Palaeolithic studies the study takes a regional approach emphasising the
palaeoenvironmental, palaeoecological, and taphonomic information brought together from studies of
faunal remains, spatial analysis of stone artefacts and bones, and lithic artefact refitting
studies. Detailed analyses consist of lithic typology and technology. This is then compared at a
regional and global scale. The study describes the regional setting, site formation processes,
chronology, lithic assemblage raw materials and provides a typotechnological analysis of stone
The database comprises lithic artefacts and bone material excavated from the Longyadong cave as well as analyses of surface and subsurface archaeology of the 50 open-air sites dated to over 250 kyr ago. A total of 1,751 lithic artefacts were examined from the open-air sites while at the Longyadong cave 18,609 items were analysed. They included stone artefacts, fauna as well as evidence for the use of fire. The data provide a framework for an examination of the lithic technology and typology, particularly its diversity and variability. The specific analyses reject the hypothesis of “two Palaeolithic cultural traditions” in North China, and strongly challenge the notion of the existence of the “Movius line”. The Palaeolithic open-air sites and the Longyadong cave site, were occupied by hominids co-existing under consistent ecological and environmental conditions for hundreds of thousands years. The very distinctive lithic assemblages found separately in the open-air sites and cave site are interpreted as reflecting different site function and varied subsistence activities rather than different hominid groups living contemporaneously in the valley. It reflects adaptive behaviours that appear to be the precursor to fully modern human behavioural organization.
WANG Shejiang: Perspectives on Hominid Behaviour and Settlement Patterns: A study of the Lower Palaeolithic sites in the Luonan Basin, China. BAR International Series 1406, Oxford: Archaeopress 2005. (ISBN 1-84171-849-1). xii+248 pages; 54 figures, maps, plans, drawings and photographs; 54 tables.
Last modified: 13.03.2014