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Transition from Foraging to Farming in Northeast China

(Peter) Wei Ming Jia
Publication Year:
227pp. Includes 28 tables, 150 figures, maps, plans, drawings and photographs, 6 data Appendices
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The main aim of this book is to demonstrate that, based on a practicable method of tool complex analysis and using as a framework, the model of transition from foraging to farming such as “the availability model” can be tested with common archaeological data. Through case studies in northeast China, this book has made a contribution to this aim and has provided a useful method to study prehistoric economy relying on archaeological discoveries. The theoretical approach in this book has suggested that the economic style chosen by prehistoric societies is retrievable from the archaeological record without direct reference of faunal and floral data. This makes this method particularly useful for regions and periods where no faunal and floral information available. This method for retrieving economic information is also without direct reference to ethnographic analogy. This study shows the potential significance of the use of common archaeological data without directly using highly technological equipment anda large amount of scientific analysis. This makes this method particularly valuable for the research in most archaeological records in China and elsewhere when there are few modern technologies, methodologies and research conditions available. Chapter 1 outlines the major purpose of this book and background of current archaeological studies in northeast China in relation to transition from foraging to farming. Chapter 2 reviews the studies in transition to farming worldwide, including transition research in the west, China and northeast China. A summary of Chinese archaeology in its method and theory is also included. Chapter 3 establishes the author's methodological framework in studies of transition to farming in northeast China, including the explanation of tool complex analysis, interpretation of the results of this analysis and establishing a baseline based on studies in the transition to farming in central China. Chapter 4 reconstructs Palaeo-environment in northeast China, involving sea level, temperature and precipitation, and vegetation changes during the Holocene in northeast China. Mainly based on pollen data, including present pollen reference, studies of the summer monsoon, this reconstruction provides an outline of environmental changes in northeast China. Chapters 5 to 8 are case studies. Based on the archaeological records in the four regions: the Liao River region, Liaodong peninsula, Song-Nen plain and Changbaishan mountains in northeast China, they use the author's methodological frame work to analyse the process of transition to farming in each region, to establish the patterns of transition in northeast China. Chapter 9 synthetically analyses the process and model of the transition to farming in northeast China, including the analysis of transition patterns, the relationship between environmental changes, technological level and agricultural transition in northeast China. Some tentative explanations of the causes of the transition to farming are also included. Chapter 10 extends some theoretical discussions, including discussion of the relationship between environment and economic styles in different transition models. The potential usage of tool complex analysis in other regions is discussed in this Chapter and followed bysome suggestions in the future studies, such as transition to animal farming, transition within one archaeological culture and studies on individual species of plants and animals. Also the suggestion of further studies needed, such as using the same method of tool complex analysis comparing to economies in present ethnic groups.