Editors’ Corner, iii
The Contingencies of State Formation in Eastern Inner Asia
J. Daniel Rogers, 249
Three key themes consistently play a role in the study of early state formation in eastern Inner Asia. First, scholars have frequently argued that China exerted a disproportionately strong influence on steppe polities, serving as a source of goods and ideas for neighboring pastoralist societies. Although Chinese states did very significantly influence steppe polities, interactions were complex and highly variable. Rather than being dominated by Chinese states, exchanges and interactions were often on a level of parity or were under the control of the steppe polities. It is frequently argued that the fragility of the pastoralist economy required steppe polities to acquire agricultural products, which in turn fostered a dependency on agricultural societies in the south. New evidence, however, suggests that the traditional distinction between pastoralist and agriculturalist economies may be insufficient to characterize the complex sets of interactions. Second, steppe polities are often described as short-lived entities that succeeded each other in rapid succession. This description deemphasizes the economic and cultural continuity that transcended the rise and fall of individual political entities. The third theme concerns the construction and maintenance of order. How, in other words, did rulers legitimate their power and maintain political and organizational control of populations and territories? Most interpretations argue that steppe polities looked to neighboring states for the cultural knowledge that allowed them to create and maintain order. That knowledge, however, came from multiple sources—especially the internal traditions that linked successive steppe polities.
Keywords: state formation, empires, Inner Asia, social theory, power relations.
Geological Sourcing of Volcanic Stone Adzes from Neolithic Sites in Southeast China
Barry V. Rolett, Zhengfu Guo, and Tianlong Jiao, 275
This study uses XRF (X-ray fluorescence) and ICP-MS (inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) analyses to determine the chemical composition of raw material used in stone tool production. The goal is to identify where stone adzes, which are common in Neolithic sites on the coast of Mainland China, were produced and if they were transported from the production areas to other places. Our study focuses on adzes from three Neolithic sites located on the Fujian coast of Mainland China, opposite Taiwan. The sites date to between 6500 and 3500 B.P. All of the adzes we sampled are made of volcanic rock. A diverse selection of raw materials, including basalts, andesites, and dacites, was used in manufacturing the adzes, indicating that they are made of rock deriving from many different geological formations. None of the adzes have identical chemical signatures. There is no evidence of specialized centers for adze production. Some of the adzes were probably produced locally, while others were obtained through exchange. This project sets the stage for future research to trace the development and the extent of southeast China Neolithic exchange networks.
Keywords: China, Neolithic, stone tools, adzes, production techniques, archaeometry, exchange.
New Evidence for Southeast Asian Pleistocene Foraging Economies: Faunal Remains from the Early Levels of Lang Rongrien Rockshelter, Krabi, Thailand
Karen Mudar and Douglas Anderson, 298
This study reports on analysis of a sample of animal bones from Pleistocene levels of Lang Rongrien Rockshelter, Thailand. Analysis identified small proportions of marine and/or freshwater fish bone, freshwater/terrestrial snail shells, and bird bones, as well as large proportions of tortoise, turtle, and mammal bones. Comparison with three other faunal assemblages underscores salient characteristics consisting of a high proportion of turtle and tortoise and an absence of pigs in the Lang Rongrien sample. Analysis of the faunal assemblage suggests that, in contrast to other sites such as Niah Cave and Moh Khiew that were occupied on a long-term basis, the Pleistocene levels of Lang Rongrien were intermittently occupied by foragers who may have been practicing a seasonal round that involved transhumance from interior to coast.
Keywords: Pleistocene, faunal analysis, climate reconstruction, pigs, subsistence, Thailand, Southeast Asia.
Underwater archaeology is still a new development in Japan, and to date only a few sites have experienced significant investigation. One of them is the recently surveyed Yamami underwater site on the Gotō Islands, which yielded sixteenth- to seventeenth-century trade ceramics from Thailand and Vietnam, as well as from the Jingdezhen kilns in China. After an introduction to the subject of ceramic trade and underwater archaeology in East Asia, the article reviews the ceramic pieces of the Yamami site in detail and links them to comparable finds from various sites in western Japan, such as from the main ports of Hakata and Nagasaki, along with examples from different international museum collections and wreck finds from the South China Sea. After also consulting historical sources, such as the Kai-hentai, the study develops a fresh interpretative approach toward the Yamami find, and—in a broader perspective—suggests strong bonds between the late medieval and early modern Japanese markets and the lively networks of the South China Sea.
Keywords: Japan, trade ceramics, underwater archaeology, medieval period, early modern period, porcelain, stoneware, Southeast Asia, China, Korea, maritime trade, Hakata, Nagasaki, Gotō Islands.
Debating Jomon Social Complexity
Richard Pearson, 361
People of the Jomon period (currently dated from about 14,000 B.C. to the first millennium B.C.) began to make lacquer ornaments as early as 7000 B.C. and by the fourth millennium B.C. were creating elaborately decorated, low-fired pottery vessels that appear to have been used for feasting. In the Final period of the Jomon, grave goods appear in a substantial percentage of burials. Without reliance on agriculture, Jomon people appear to have achieved a high level of social complexity. However, the evidence from a few case studies concerning lacquer, elaborate pottery, and burials seems to show that while part-time specialization provided a wealth of rich material culture, sustained hierarchy was not achieved and there was an emphasis on exchange and solidarity, as in other middle-range societies. This article reviews new material and debates.
Keywords: Jomon, Japan, social complexity, lacquer, ceramics, burials, craft production, complex hunter-gatherers.
Inter- and Intraregional Variation in the Austronesian Painting Tradition: A View from East Timor
Sue O’Connor and Nuno Vasco Oliveira, 389
This article reports on the discovery of a new rock art site from East Timor that is located inland on the southern flanks of the central mountainous spine of the island. One particular painted motif, a socketed axe with haft, indicates that at least some of the motifs were painted c. 2000 B.P. This date and the stylistic and technical features of the art would place it within the later body of painted art associated with the Austronesian Painting Tradition (APT) elsewhere in the western Pacific. This later phase is characterized by greater diversity in style, color, and placement of motifs than is found in the earlier APT. Comparison with the other known art sites in East Timor shows significant differences between the rock art of the eastern and central parts of East Timor, indicating that these areas comprised separate stylistic regions.
Keywords: Austronesian Painting Tradition, rock art, Timor, Island Southeast Asia, western Pacific, iconography.
Korean Contributions to Agriculture, Technology, and State Formation in Japan: Archaeology and History of an Epochal Thousand Years, 400 B.C.–A.D. 600
Song-Nai Rhee, C. Melvin Aikens, Sung-Rak Choi, and Hyuk-Jin Ro, 404
This is a study of Korean contributions to cultural changes in ancient Japan as it developed agriculture and increasing social complexity and finally formed the Yamato state over the course of a thousand years, between 400 B.C. and A.D. 600. Central to this study are three broad themes, supported primarily by archaeology but importantly informed by historical texts. First, key cultural features and technologies that were essential to increasing social complexity in Yayoi period Japan and to formation of a centralized state in the sixth century A.D. entered the archipelago directly from the Korea Peninsula. Second, a dominant factor behind the infusion of Korean cultural features was the movement, in several waves, of peninsula residents into the Japanese archipelago. While trade moved peninsula goods to the archipelago all throughout the formative period, Korean technologies, skills, ideologies, and cultural systems moved with people, including permanent immigrants, temporary residents, and official envoys. The Korean immigrants in particular were impelled initially by explosive population growth in Korea fueled by the spread of agriculture there and later by increasingly tumultuous political and military events that unfolded in the peninsula as rival polities contended for power during several hundred years of war. Third, a number of Korean immigrants emerged as powerful technocrats and political functionaries during the Kofun period, providing important organizational experience and service to the Yamato court during the process of state formation in Japan.
Keywords: Korea, Japan, China, Mumun, Songguk-ni, Jomon, Yayoi, Kofun, Koguryo, Baekje, Kaya, Yamato, Buddhism, Soga, Muryeong, Shotoku.