Technical Practice and the Development of Nation and State in the Luoyang Basin, North-Central China, 3000-1500 BCE


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Dissertation Fellowships (North America)




This project brings together archaeological research on ceramic production with anthropological theories of community in order to develop a model of the role that object styles play in the development of political culture and the formation of group solidarity prior to the formation of complex societies. At present we lack the tools required to link archaeological indications of increasing scales of regional cultural integration with evidence of incipient political orders. To what extent did the formation of a shared regional material culture style precede an emergent, shared identity across local communities? That is, was the formation of complex polities dependent upon an a priori emergence of a shared “political culture” achieved through an established sense of solidarity and nurtured by a shared material culture? The focus of this work is the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze (3000-1500 BCE) periods of north-central China. The emergence of centralized polities in the Luoyang Basin during these periods appears to have followed the coalescence of a geographically extensive shared material repertoire. By tracing the changes in pottery style across the basin through communities of practice, this research examines pottery repertoires collected from five sites in the region to investigate how aesthetic styles changed over time in relation to technical styles of manufacture.