"Innovation, imitation, and identity: Mayeon Black ware and social complexity in Southwestern Korea" now in press in Archaeological Research in Asia.
Authors: Sangwon Nam, Rory Walsh, Gyoung-Ah Lee
Abstract: "Mayeon Black ware (MYB ware) was produced in southwestern Korea from the late third to mid-fifth centuries CE, and played an important role as a prestige good in the emerging Baekje state. This study analyzes 500 examples of MYB ware from Baekje and contemporaneous Mahan societies, demonstrating that these ceramics were produced using a variety of technological styles and were available to people from multiple social classes. The majority of MYB ware consumption took place at the Baekje political center at Pungnap-toseong, largely taking the form of serving vessels used in feasting rituals. Despite this association between MYB ware and Baekje elites, vessels with similar technological styles to those at Pungnap-toseong appear in agricultural villages within a roughly 25 km radius of the site, suggesting not only a dispersed pattern of production but also a lack of social proscriptions against the use of these wares by non-elites. Baekje elites also gifted MYB wares to prominent people at the margins of Baekje territorial control, prompting imitations by local potters. The Mahan origins of MYB ware technology are apparent in independent developments outside Baekje territory, reinforcing the conclusion that neither the production of MYB or the construction of its meaning was exclusive to Baekje elites. The Baekje state expanded its borders throughout the period of MYB ware use, but the findings of this study underline that MYB ware's presence at a site cannot be used as a direct indicator of Baekje territorial control."
Keywords: Korea, ceramics, prestige goods, craft production, social complexity