CnErlit

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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ Agathe Dupeyron; Jill Levine ♥

♠ Original name ♣ Erlitou ♥

♠ Alternative names ♣ Xia Dynasty ♥ "That Sima Qian selected Xia alone for treatment as a ruling dynasty is evidence of his great judgment, because it is now becoming increasingly clearer that the Xia state is represented archaeologically: since 1959, evidence of its culture has been continuously unearthed at the type site Erlitou, just east of Luoyang in northwestern Henan province. The archaeological remains of this Erlitou culture are now found scattered throughout southern Shanxi and north- western Henan and are dated to 1900-1350 B.C., coinciding in time and in space with the Xia dynasty as described in ancient texts. Was there a Xia dynasty? Present evidence suggests that there indeed was a Xia dynasty. That Sima Qian selected Xia from among many contemporary polities was probably because during the earliest part of the Chinese Bronze Age or the Three Dynasties period, Xia was most powerful. If Erlitou can be identified with Xia, this is indeed true." [1]

♠ Peak Date ♣ 1700-1530 BCE ♥ "The Erlitou site itself occupied an area of about 100 ha during phase I of the Erlitou site. This initial stage is traditionally dated to c. 1900-1800 BC (Liu and Xu 2007), although others now place it at c. 1750-1700 BC (Zhang et al. 2007). Erlitou reached the zenith of its expansion, to around 300 ha, during Erlitou phases II-IV, traditionally dated to c. 1800-1550 BC but recently ascribed to c. 1700-1530 BC (Liu and Xu 2007; Zhang et al. 2007) (Fig. 3)." [2]


Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 1850-1600 BCE ♥ 1900–1500 BCE[3]

2070-1600 BCE

"In 1996, the Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project was commissioned by the Chinese government to produce a reliable systematic and standardized chronology of the early Chinese predynastic periods. Relying on both historical sources and archaeological data, the team dated the Xia Dynasty to 2070-1600 BC and the Shang to 1600-1046 BC." [4]

1850-1600 BCE

"These dates are based on both the radiocarbon dates published in Xia Shang Zhou Duandai Gongcheng Zhuanjiazu [hereafter XSZDGZ] (2000) and ZSKY (2003). Previous work had suggested that Erlitou dated from 1900-1500 BCE for a total of 400 years with each phase being about 100 years long (Qiu, Cai, Xian, and Bo 1983; ZSKY 1999). Recent radiocarbon work using “wiggle-matching” techniques have dated the site between 1750 and 1520 BCE, reducing Erlitou site occupation to a mere 200 years, the last 50 or so years claimed to be under Shang occupation (Qiu, Cai and Zhang 2006). If this is really the case then the “Erlitou expansion” during Erlitou II and III was both rapid and short-lived (see discussion below)." [5]

1850-1550 BCE

"The Erlitou site is located in the Luoyang city area in the eastern Luoyang basin. The most abundant cultural remains at the site belong to the Erlitou culture, dating to about 3800-3500 BP (c.1850-1550 BC). This date is contemporary with the historically documented Xia and Shang dynasties (Du and Xu 2005)." [6]

♠ Degree of centralization ♣ quasi-polity ♥ "Erlitou, rather than being a departure, continued the third-millennium pattern of megasites, centering an expansive sphere of material cultural influence (Figure 2.1). At the same time, a number of features that were to become central to Central Plains Bronze Age elite traditions, such as a rectangular, walled “palace-temple” district; rammed earth monumental courtyard structures; and bronze ritual vessels, apparently made their first appearance at Erlitou (Figures 2.2-2.6). The Erlitou tradition, however, was not alone on the Mainland East Asian stage. The land between the Yellow and Yangtze rivers was home to a variety of local and regional ceramic and other material cultural traditions beyond those of Erlitou." [7]

"The political organization of the polity centered at Erlitou is unclear. Erlitou sat atop a settlement hierarchy of unknown size,48 and for perhaps a century, maybe less (1700-1600 BCE), it was the largest urban center in East Asia for which we have evidence (Shimao may overlap with the early phases of Erlitou; Sanxingui, with at least the late phases; and Yanshi and Zhengzhou were probably both major centers by the Erlitou phase IV). While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang. This comparison can justifiably be made insofar (and only insofar) as many of Erlitou’s elite cultural forms appear to be ancestral to those found at Zhengzhou and Anyang, from architecture, to symbols of status and implements of ritual.49 Nevertheless, as will be discussed in more detail later on, there are considerable qualitative and quantitative differences between Erlitou, Zhengzhou, and Anyang, making their comparison—and especially the derivation of the lesser known from the better known—a more complex problem than most have credited. Seen in regional context, if Erlitou has its civilizational sphere (Baines and Yoffee 1998; Allan 2007), it was not alone." [8]

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ suspected unknown ♥

"It would seem that during the height of the Erlitou site’s power (and by extension the Erlitou or “Xia” polity), fortified centers associated with the Erligang (or early Shang) polity were already appearing in the same region. Currently available C14 samples date phase III of the Erlitou site—the period associated with the most notable evidence of the site’s prosperity—to c. 1610-1550 (or even 1530) calibrated years BC, while Erligang sites such as Zhengzhou (郑州) and Yanshi (偃师) date from c. 1600 BC (Zhang et al. 2007; Zhongguo 2003, pp. 659-663). In particular, the location of Yanshi, only 6 km northeast of Erlitou, raises questions about the relationships between the two cultures and the polities they represent." [9]

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Longshan ♥ "It is against the background of these socioeconomic developments in different parts of China during the fourth and early third millennia BC that we now come to our examination of the trajectory of the middle Yellow River basin. As already mentioned, we are focusing on this region because it is here that both traditional and modern scholarship has identified the origins of the state. However, as suggested below, this may not be the only place where similar trajectories can be observed. The earlier part of this trajectory is associated with the so-called Henan and Shanxi Longshan (龙山) cultures, also known by other more localized names and dating to c. 3000-1900 BC. It continues with the Erlitou culture c. 1900-1550 BC, Erligang (二里岗 or Early Shang) c. 1600-1300 BC, and Yinxu (殷墟 or Late Shang) c. 1300-1050 BC." [10]
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ continuity ♥ "This was the Three Dynasties, the Xia, Shang, and Zhou. These three states arose from the Longshan base to a still higher social level." [11]
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Erligang ♥ "It is against the background of these socioeconomic developments in different parts of China during the fourth and early third millennia BC that we now come to our examination of the trajectory of the middle Yellow River basin. As already mentioned, we are focusing on this region because it is here that both traditional and modern scholarship has identified the origins of the state. However, as suggested below, this may not be the only place where similar trajectories can be observed. The earlier part of this trajectory is associated with the so-called Henan and Shanxi Longshan (龙山) cultures, also known by other more localized names and dating to c. 3000-1900 BC. It continues with the Erlitou culture c. 1900-1550 BC, Erligang (二里岗 or Early Shang) c. 1600-1300 BC, and Yinxu (殷墟 or Late Shang) c. 1300-1050 BC." [12]
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ ♥ We could go with 'China' if we follow Chang's reasoning: "When the chronologies of the various cultural types and systems are carefully traced, it becomes apparent that by approximately 4000 B.C. some of the adjacent regional cultures had come into contact as an inevitable result of expansion and that a number of ceramic styles began to assume a sphere-wide instead of merely a region-wide distribution. For example, among pottery vessel types, the ding and the dou are found in every region, often in large numbers, suggesting the wide distribution of a style of cooking formerly prevailing only in the Dawenkou and Daxi cultures. The perforated slate rectangular and semilunar knives represent another horizon marker, as do some pottery and jade art motifs that, as pointed out earlier, may reflect deeper substratal commonalities than recent contact. With the definition of "interaction spheres," for the first time we can discuss the issue of the name "China." I suggest that from this point on, as the regions with which we are concerned came to be joined together in archaeological terms and exhibit increasing similarities, the interaction sphere may be referred to as "Chinese." "[13]
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ ♥ km squared.

♠ Capital ♣ Erlitou ♥ "Erlitou is a very large site, covering approximately 300 ha and having an estimated population of 18,000-30,000 inhabitants at the height of its occupation (phases II and III; Liu 2006, p. 183)." [14]


♠ Language ♣ archaic Chinese ♥ "The people whose material culture is studied here did not yet, as far as we know, use the Eastern Zhou term Zhongguo, or “middle kingdoms,” nor is there any evidence that they considered themselves to have a common collective identity. Indeed, it is likely that many, if not most, of those within the area of what is now the People’s Republic of China did not speak any language ancestral to modern Chinese. In addition to archaic Chinese, there would have been speakers of other Sino-Tibetan languages, as well as Altaic, Austroasiatic, Hmong-Mien, Tai-Kadai, Austronesian, and perhaps even Indo-European languages." [15]

General Description

Erlitou is a large Bronze Age settlement in the central Yellow River valley southeast of modern Luoyang.[16] The settlement city was long considered to be the capital of the Xia dynasty, however, some scholars now believe that Erlitou was a separate culture.[17] Erlitou culture was descended from late Longshan culture, especially the settlements at Taosi and Dawenkou.[18] Erlitou is divided into four phases by archaeologists.

Erlitou culture is characterized by a state-sponsored bronze industry and a highly specialized casting process for bronze vessels.[19] The city featured large buildings used for rituals, and palaces built on pounded earth platforms. Workshops that were most likely state-sponsored produced crafts and goods made of jade, ceramic, and bronze.[20] The economy was based on agriculture- the people of Erlitou farmed wheat, millet, rice, and vegetables and raised domestic animals.[21] The state controlled areas as far as 500 km from the center.[22]

Population and political organization

An increased number of bronze ritual vessels have been found in Phase III elite burials which suggests that society may have been controlled by elites.[23]

In its first phase, at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, Erlitou was a town in the Yi river valley. The settlement developed into a large city with an estimated 30,000 residents in 1800 BCE in its second and third phases. In its final phase in 1600 BCE, Erlitou declined in population as the nearby city of Erligang developed.[24]

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ Agathe Dupeyron ♥

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ [10,000-20,000] ♥ in squared kilometers. Calculated using a radius of 70km around Erlitou = c. 15,394 sq km.

Expansionist view

"The size of the area controlled by the Erlitou site during its zenith (phase III) is a debated question. According to one recent model, it extended as far south as Panlongcheng (about 500 km!) and about 100-150 km northwestward to sites such as Dongxiafeng (东下冯) and Nanguan (南关). This expansion is often said to have involved the aggressive conquering of faraway lands, along with the establishment of colonies crucial for the extraction and acquisition of particular resources that were essential for Erlitou’s functioning as a governing state (Liu 2004, pp. 232-234; Liu and Chen 2003)."[25]
"Some archaeologists are inclined to classify it as a territorial state with no serious rivals. In their view Erlitou was an expansionist state that had established colonies well beyond the Yilou region, reaching north and south into a large area between the middle Yellow River and the middle Yangzi River. The motive behind the expansion, they argue, was to produce copper, tin, lead, and salt for the core area's people and workshops. On balance, however, the evidence seems to favor something more modest, a polity confined to the Yilou basin, comparable in size to a large city-state in Mesopotamia or Mesoamerica."[26]

Lesser / City-state model

"If we use the same methods for delineating the political borders of Erlitou as those used for the Longshan polities, it would seem that the Erlitou polity may have extended no further than perhaps 70 km in each direction, somewhat larger than the Longshan period polities but still not spreading out beyond the local region." [27]"[28]
"It is equally possible ... that we should not be thinking of early second millennium north China in terms of a single territorial state but rather as a landscape dotted with multiple city-states."[29]

"Erlitou is the largest and richest site of an archaeological culture whose distribution covers Henan and adjacent parts of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, and Hubei."[30]

♠ Polity Population ♣ [54,000-82,000] ♥ People. (Liu 2005: 240) estimate. Did this change over time?[31] Coded previously as [20,000-40,000], but not very clear what this estimate is based on, and how it relates to the following: "By some estimates, the population of the Erlitou capital was at least 20,000 during the apex of its occupation, a huge increase from the estimated population of no more than 5,000 during the preceding Longshan period. It appears that the population of most of the other Erlitou culture sites in the region was no more than about 1,000. This is the first time in East Asia that such a large concentration of population was found in a regional center." [32]

♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ [3,500-5,800]: 1850-1800 BCE; [18,000-30,000]: 1799-1651 BCE ♥ Inhabitants. Erlitou started as a large settlement or regional center with 3,500 to 5,000 people in Phase I (1900-1800 BCE). Liu (2006) uses number of pits and burials to calculate population range.[33] "Erlitou is a very large site, covering approximately 300 ha and having an estimated population of 18,000-30,000 inhabitants at the height of its occupation (phases II and III; Liu 2006, p. 183)." [34] Fast population growth: "The Erlitou urban center expanded rapidly from 100 ha to 300 ha within 100 years." [35]

Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ 4 ♥ levels.

1. Capital - Erlitou - 300 ha at maximum expansion
2. Regional center
3. Secondary center - Eg. Shaochau (60ha), Dashigu (50 ha)
4. Small villages

"Archaeological fieldwork demonstrates that with the emergence of the Erlitou capital, quite a few new settlements appeared in the Luoyang basin centered around the Erlitou site. Larger sites are distributed at intervals, revealing a large, structured network of settlements. The Shaochai 稍柴 site (60ha) seems to be located in the eastern section of a vital communication route in the Luoyang basin. In addition to being a secondary center, the important functions of this settlement included protecting the capital and transferring resources (Chen Xingcan et al. 2003; Liu et al. 2004: 75-100). More than 20 sites dating to the Erlitou period (10-30 ha in size) have been found in the surrounding area. Some sites have remains of white pottery or ritual drinking vessels of delicate pottery. These other Erlitou period sites (including burials) are concentrated around Songshan 嵩山 (Mt Song), including the area from Zhengzhou to Luoyang, and the area from the Yinghe and Ruhe rivers to Sanmenxia city. The sites are all large or medium-sized settlements located in valleys and basins. They must have been regional centers in the core area of the Erlitou state (Nishie 2005). The city discovered at Dashigu 大师姑 (51ha), 70km east of the Erlitou site, might be a military town at the eastern edge of the Erlitou state territory, or the center of another polity (Zhengzhou Kaogusuo 2004). We can conclude that there was a four- tiered settlement hierarchy in the Erlitou culture consisting of a large capital settlement, regional centers, secondary centers, and numerous small villages. This settlement pattern is in sharp contrast to the Longshan settlement pattern in which various regional centers coexisted and competed for power." [36]

"A four-tier regional settlement hierarchy appeared during the Erlitou period, signifying the domination of the Erlitou site (as the paramount center) over a state-level system with at least three levels of political control above ordinary villages (Liu and Chen 2003, following the definition by Wright 1977). [...] Criticism has been leveled at different elements of this reconstruction. [...] Even more substantially, the proposed four-tier regional settlement hierarchy model has been criticized as being based on subjective criteria (Peterson and Drennan 2011; see further below)." [37]

"Likewise, Erlitou may very well have been at once a political capital, a ceremonial center, and a nexus of elite production. Unfortunately, information concerning spatial practices at Erlitou and other Bronze Age Chinese sites is fragmentary at best, and characterizations are necessarily somewhat crude and speculative on current evidence." [38]

♠ Administrative levels ♣ 3 ♥ levels.

1. Ruler or Priest

walls enclosed what has been called a "palatial area" but others contend this might be a location for ritual gathering.[39]
2. Administrative planner
"The list of activities dependent on administration for the Erlitou state - agriculture, the construction of public buildings and city walls, the bronze industry, the army - is equally applicable to Erligang, but the scale of those activities had increased enormously."[40]
"The building of monumental architecture and the production of elite objects would have been inconceivable without some sort of systematic management of the city's resources. ... A similar response to administrative needs at Erlitou is certainly a possibility."[41]
"The palace city was about 11 ha and, during phase IV, was enclosed by rammed-earth walls about 2 m wide and surrounded by four large roads (Fig. 4). At least seven earthen platforms, ranging in size from about 300 to 9,600 m2, have been found inside this enclosure."[42] We can infer that some sort of administrative system was required to maintain the courtyard, walls and roads of the palatial complex, whatever its actual function.
3. Scribe/worker
"While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang."[43]


♠ Religious levels ♣ [1-3] ♥ levels.

Ancestor-worship rituals: "Erlitou's regional expansion was unprecedented and is particularly attributable to the rulers' hunger for bronze alloys, which were used to cast weapons for warfare and ceremonial vessels for ancestor-worship rituals, both activities being intended to ensure the political legitimacy of the ruling class (Chang 1983)." [44]

1. King

2. Top priest at ritual inferred
3. Lesser priest at ritual inferred

More conservative view

"While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang." [45]


♠ Military levels ♣ [3-4] ♥ levels

"Even though most military historians confidently assert that the Hsia did not maintain a standing army, it would be highly unlikely for the ruler not to have been protected by a body of men with pronounced martial abilities who would form the core of any broader combat effort."[46]

1. King

2. leader of king's guard
"Warriors were probably dressed in the finest of silk clothing." [47]
3. ?
Regiments of 100-125 men.[48]
4. individual soldier

more conservative view

"While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang." [49]

Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ suspected unknown ♥ "Even though most military historians confidently assert that the Hsia did not maintain a standing army, it would be highly unlikely for the ruler not to have been protected by a body of men with pronounced martial abilities who would form the core of any broader combat effort."[50] Regiments of 100-125 men.[51]

more conservative view

"While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang." [52]

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ inferred present ♥

inferred present

"Even though most military historians confidently assert that the Hsia did not maintain a standing army, it would be highly unlikely for the ruler not to have been protected by a body of men with pronounced martial abilities who would form the core of any broader combat effort."[53]
"Warriors were probably dressed in the finest of silk clothing." [54]
Regiments of 100-125 men.[55]
Professional soldiers can be inferred present in Erlitou [56]

unknown

"While the Erlitou ceramic tradition was widespread, the mechanisms of this expansion are probably only indirectly related to political activity (if pots don’t equal people, they are even less representative of conquering armies or “state” administrators). The degree of centralization, mechanisms of political control, and social organization can only be guessed at or extrapolated through comparison with Zhengzhou and Anyang." [57]

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ inferred present ♥ Not stated explicitly by sources, but suggested by importance of divination/ancestor worship rituals [58].

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ inferred absent ♥ The evidence for an institutionalized Erlitou administrative system seems too thin to code 'present' for full-time bureaucrats. "It has long been asserted that the incipient origins of many bureaucratic organs can be traced back to the Hsia and that a sort of proto-bureaucracy is already discernible. Although important individuals could simply have been deputed to undertake specific responsibilities as needed, administering the realm would no doubt have required minimally defined bureaucratic positions with at least rudimentary authority. The early rulers presumably established a limited but basically effective core of officials under their direct control, a sort of working staff, with responsibility for crucial activities being broadly construed. Titles such as ssu t’u (“minister of agriculture”) and “chief archer” then presumably evolved from repeatedly assigned tasks." [59]

♠ Examination system ♣ inferred absent ♥ "Before the Northern Sung, the principal means of entry into the social and political elite was by official recommendation or kinship relations." [60]

♠ Merit promotion ♣ ♥ Unknown.

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ {absent; present} ♥ Historians and archaeologists appear to disagree about the function of excavated non-domestic Erlitou stuctures, proposing a range of uses from administration to communal gatherings and rituals.

"A cluster of rammed-earth foundations enclosed by rammed-earth walls about 2 m in width situated more or less at the center of the site and known in the literature as the “palace city” or “palatial area” (gongcheng 宫城) (Zhongguo 2003) are seen as evidence of intrasite stratification. The largest foundations inside this area, labeled Palace I and Palace II, stand on top of rammed earthen platforms 9600 m2 and 4200 m2 in size, respectively, and are said to have been the seat of the leader (or king) of the state. [...] Criticism has been leveled at different elements of this reconstruction. For example, the identification of the main public structures in Erlitou as palaces has been challenged: palaces are usually defined as multifunctional buildings, serving as the king’s residence and also as the central hub of state administration (Flannery 1998, pp. 22-36). The Erlitou complexes, despite being composed of large walled courtyards with roofed buildings, are actually quite small. As Thorp (1991) has suggested, these structures are better explained as locations of public gatherings or rituals, where large audiences convened in the courtyard, rather than as the residences of kings." [61]

"It is important to note, however, that despite their characterization as gongdian “palaces” in Chinese or “palace-temples” in the English literature, there is very little evidence other than later traditions to suggest their function (Thorp 1988), and indeed, as Xu et al. (2004, 2005) suggests, that function may have changed over the life of the site, never mind the course of the second millennium BCE. Do their large courtyards suggest the open spaces of public architecture and collective ritual, or does their limited access through a single entrance suggest more restricted use (see Figures 2.3-2.5)?" [62]

"Bronze and turquoise workshops are located in an enclosed region south of the enclosed palace region, so the excavator XU Hong concluded that they were government owned. The nature of the ceramic workshops are unclear." [63]

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ ♥ Unknown.

♠ Judges ♣ inferred absent ♥ Specialist, full-time judge unlikely at this time. Before specialist judge we might expect a generalist or part-time judge would evolve, but we have no data. Due to central importance of religious ritual to this authoritarian society we could infer there was no secular sphere of law over which a non-religious specialist could adjudicate.

♠ Courts ♣ inferred absent ♥ Specialist, full-time judge unlikely at this time. Before specialist judge we might expect a generalist or part-time judge would evolve, but we have no data. Due to central importance of religious ritual to this authoritarian society we could infer there was no secular sphere of law over which a non-religious specialist could adjudicate.

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ inferred absent ♥ Specialist, full-time lawyers highly unlikely given no data for courts or judges or a law system, and the low levels of education and literacy at this time.

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. During the Shang (exact period not mentioned): "Progress in hydraulic technology allowed the creation of great systems of irrigation, increasing the productivity of cultures along the Yellow river."[64] Any "progress" before the Shang?
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ ♥
♠ markets ♣ suspected unknown ♥ First evidence of markets found in the Western Zhou [65]
♠ food storage sites ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. Storage areas present, but not specified if they were food-specific or state-owned. In the Dongxiafeng site "Dating from phase III, however, there are 37 cave-houses, four pottery kilns, two wells, five tombs, 13 “storage” caves, 20 small pieces of slag, 6 stone molds, and 21 ash pits in locality 5 alone, suggesting to some that this area was “a working and residential area of craftsmen” (Liu and Chen 2001:17)."[66]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ present ♥ "The cluster of rammed-earth foundations and the remains of public buildings situated more or less at the center of the site are known in the literature as the palace city or palatial area (gongcheng 宫城; Zhongguo 2003). This area was established during phase II, and its most impressive buildings were constructed in phase III. The palace city was about 11 ha and, during phase IV, was enclosed by rammed-earth walls about 2 m wide and surrounded by four large roads (Fig. 4). At least seven earthen platforms, ranging in size from about 300 to 9,600 m2, have been found inside this enclosure." [67]
♠ Bridges ♣ ♥
♠ Canals ♣ ♥
♠ Ports ♣ ♥

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ inferred present ♥ "The mountainous region near Donglongshan not only possessed jade deposits (Fang 1995:157), but also was rich in copper, lead, and tin deposits (Huo 1993). Similarly, Panlongcheng, which was in close proximity to abundant copper deposits in the middle Yangzi River valley, has yielded evidence of bronze making dating to the Erlitou period (Wang and Chen 1987:74). Copper was likely smelted near the mining areas, and elites in the regional centers may have played the major role in transporting copper ingots to the primary center at Erlitou (Liu and Chen 2003)." [68] "Although small-scale bronze metallurgy was likely taking place in many places in northern and western China, including the Central Plains area, and all of these sites would have had to procure copper, lead, and tin from somewhere, we have neither data on contemporaneous mining sites nor evidence for the routes by which metals reached the various large- and small- scale workshops." [69]

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ inferred present ♥ "Since no writing system has been found at Erlitou, it is unclear how the administration of this archaic state managed the flow of information and material between the core and the periphery." [70]
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ inferred present ♥ Though there is no evidence for a writing system at Erlitou, 'carved symbols on pottery' have been found.[71] "Since no writing system has been found at Erlitou, it is unclear how the administration of this archaic state managed the flow of information and material between the core and the periphery." [72]
♠ Written records ♣ {inferred absent; inferred present} ♥ Barend ter Har distrusted this and other references claiming early origins of writing as being politically motivated to establish early Chinese invention. He says the first true writing isn't attested until the Shang oracle bone script [73] [74]. However, anything written on perishable materials such as bamboo, for instance, unlikely to be preserved. "so far no writing has been found at the Erlitou site; the only evidence of writing discovered as yet consists of various carved symbols on pottery (fig. 6.11). Nevertheless, because the writing system of the Shang dynasty oracle bone inscriptions is already highly developed, it is possible that there was writing in the Erlitou culture, particularly at the major Erlitou site."[75] "Since no writing system has been found at Erlitou, it is unclear how the administration of this archaic state managed the flow of information and material between the core and the periphery." [76] "Nevertheless, the Anyang period is notable for two important new developments: writing and the introduction of the chariot. The first of these, although possibly having unpreserved antecedents (Keightley 2006; Bagley 2004 but see Smith 2008 for the argument that the script could have developed rapidly), appeared in two forms in the Anyang period."[77] Although we have no evidence of written records we could infer that a writing system would evolve in an environment of perishable written records that do not get preserved rather than in the evolutionary less intensive competition of pottery inscriptions which do survive.
♠ Script ♣ inferred present ♥ "So far no writing has been found at the Erlitou site; the only evidence of writing discovered as yet consists of various carved symbols on pottery (fig. 6.11). Nevertheless, because the writing system of the Shang dynasty oracle bone inscriptions is already highly developed, it is possible that there was writing in the Erlitou culture, particularly at the major Erlitou site."[78] "Several signs have been found at the so-called “Early Shang” site of Erlitou (ca. 16th century B.C.) in north Central Henan, generally incised on various pots (Yang Xiaoneng 2000:84-7), but there is, once again, no way to “read” their meaning." [79]
♠ Non-phonetic writing ♣ ♥
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ ♥

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ inferred present ♥ "The building of monumental architecture and the production of elite objects would have been inconceivable without some sort of systematic management of the city's resources. ... A similar response to administrative needs at Erlitou is certainly a possibility."[80] "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[81] An incipient administrative system may have used a basic list such as for the procurement of needed resources.
♠ Calendar ♣ inferred present ♥ "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[82] We could infer that a ritual calendar was written down.
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[83]
♠ Religious literature ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[84]
♠ Practical literature ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "The building of monumental architecture and the production of elite objects would have been inconceivable without some sort of systematic management of the city's resources. ... A similar response to administrative needs at Erlitou is certainly a possibility."[85]
♠ History ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[86]
♠ Philosophy ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[87]
♠ Scientific literature ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[88]
♠ Fiction ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Unknown. "normally it is only after writing comes to be used for display that archaeology begins to find traces of it. Because administrative documents were almost certainly written on perishable materials like bamboo and papyrus, we will probably never find them."[89]

Money

♠ Articles ♣ ♥
♠ Tokens ♣ present ♥ Jade. [90] Cowries speculated for the subsequent Erligang period.[91]
♠ Precious metals ♣ ♥ Unknown.
♠ Foreign coins ♣ absent ♥ Coins evolved at a later time.
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ absent ♥ Coins evolved at a later time.
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥ Paper did not exist at this time.

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ inferred present ♥ It is likely that the elite used messengers even over short distances for both convenience, the ability to transmit more than one message simultaneously and perhaps to enhance their status.
♠ Postal stations ♣ inferred absent ♥ No data on whether the elite used relay stations to transmit messages faster. This might be considered unlikely as elsewhere relay stations evolved and were used in context of much larger states and bureaucracies where long distances needed to be traversed. However: "Military expansion during phase III of Erlitou is said to have brought regions as far away as 500 km under the control of the state (Liu 2004, pp. 232-234)." [92]
♠ General postal service ♣ inferred absent ♥ Little literacy so there would have been nobody to use a general postal service, if such had existed.

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ Agathe Dupeyron; Jill Levine ♥

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ present ♥ Used to make bronze. Knives and weapons were made of copper alloys. Compositional analysis of metal artefacts and slag samples from excavations Erlitou occupation sites reveal a range of compositions from pure copper to tin bronze, leaded tin bronze, arsenic bronze, lead-tin bronze and others. [93]
♠ Bronze ♣ present ♥ "Many lines of evidence point to a dramatic increase in the sophistication of craft production and the level of specialization during the Erligang period. The technology used to cast bronze vessels —the piece-mold or section-mold technique— was already developed by the Erlitou period, but it reached a much higher level of sophistication during this period. Vessel shapes were now much more varied than before and much more lavishly decorated. The complexity and sheer size of some of these vessels show their casting to have been a real technological achievement. For example, one bronze square ding (fangding 方鼎) dated to the Erligang period is 100 cm tall and weighs 86.4 kg. More bronze was used to cast this single vessel than was used for all of the known Erlitou vessels combined. Another example is three hoards of bronze objects discovered in the outer city of Zhengzhou, containing 28 bronzes with a total weight of over 500 kg (Thorp 2006, pp. 89-91). Mold parts found at the different bronze workshops in Zhengzhou suggest that one, the Nanguanwai (南关外), specialized in the production of ritual vessels (although it also produced tools and weapons), while another, Zijingshan (紫荆山), produced few vessels, if any, and focused instead on weapons and small tools (Fig. 8) (Henan 2001, pp. 307-383). Such workshop specialization, which can be seen in other crafts as well, may have to do not only with the artisans working in each foundry but also with the level of political control over and sponsorship of these workshops." [94]
♠ Iron ♣ absent ♥ Iron not discovered at this time.
♠ Steel ♣ absent ♥ Steel not discovered at this time.

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Bronze spearheads found at the tomb of Lijiazui Mi, Panlongcheng. [95] The "spear appears to have remained relatively uncommon prior to the late Shang." [96]
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥ Technology used in the new world. Unlikely.
♠ Slings ♣ inferred present ♥ Inferred from the presence of slings in previous and subsequent polities in the Middle Yellow River Valley Known from the Zhou period, when: "The conscripted foot soldiers wore sheepskin jackets and used slings and bows with bronze-tipped arrows."[97]
♠ Self bow ♣ present ♥ Arrowheads: "The workshops include bronze foundries to the north and south, a bone workshop to the north, and a pottery workshop to the west. Pollution and the danger of fire were no doubt sufficient reasons for locating foundries and kilns outside the city. Judging from mold fragments, the foundries produced vessels, craft tools, and a few weapons (ge blades and arrowheads)."[98] In Yanshi: "In addition, some bone artifacts were discovered to the west of the phase I palace-temple compound wall—mostly consisting of arrowheads, spatulas, or pins, with some production waste and semifinished bone artifacts as well—suggesting a bone workshop in the area (ZSKY 2003)." [99] At Panlongcheng, arrow points.[100]
♠ Composite bow ♣ absent ♥ "the typical Chinese composite bow... was already in use under the Shang" [101]
♠ Crossbow ♣ absent ♥ Warring States period technology [102]
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ absent ♥ Siege weaponry not present until Warring States period [103]
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ absent ♥ Siege weaponry not present until Warring States period [104]
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥ Cannons and firearms not present until the Song [105]
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥ Gunpowder not invented for another couple of thousand years.

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ inferred present ♥ present for previous polity in chronology.
♠ Battle axes ♣ present ♥ Ge blades: "The workshops include bronze foundries to the north and south, a bone workshop to the north, and a pottery work- shop to the west. Pollution and the danger of fire were no doubt sufficient reasons for locating foundries and kilns outside the city. Judging from mold fragments, the foundries produced vessels, craft tools, and a few weapons (ge blades and arrowheads)."[106] Ko dagger-axes: "a transverse dagger-shaped bronze blade" [107] At Panlongcheng "a pair of broad-blade axes (yue)".[108]
♠ Daggers ♣ inferred present ♥ Knives mentioned by several archaeological sources.[109] Daggers were imported from an outside culture, first seen in the Shang. [110] Knives found at Dayangzhou, Xin'gan, Erligang Culture, possibly Huan-bei period.[111]
♠ Swords ♣ absent ♥ Sword found at Dayangzhou, Xin'gan, Erligang Culture, possibly Huan-bei period.[112]
♠ Spears ♣ suspected unknown ♥ The "spear appears to have remained relatively uncommon prior to the late Shang." [113] At Panlongcheng mao spear points.[114] Unknown if these were used for warfare.
♠ Polearms ♣ present ♥ "At ERLITOU, elite graves contained bronze grave goods, including vessels, bells, knives, and halberds (ge)." [115]. The Shang dagger-axe had a one meter long shaft, could also be classified as a polearm [116] ge dagger-axe.[117]

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ absent ♥ Dogs were domesticated at this time. Never used in warfare. [118]
♠ Donkeys ♣ inferred present ♥ Used as pack animals [119]
♠ Horses ♣ inferred absent: 1650-1300BCE; present: 1300-1250BCE ♥ "Combat in this period was conducted by men on foot, in loosely organized forces of limited strength, almost entirely with bows and arrows and crushing weapons such as axes, clubs, dagger-axes, and a few spears (but not swords) primarily fabricated from stone rather than metal."[120] Chariots were introduced later than this period, c1300 BCE.[121]. Chariots were introduced around 1300 BCE [122]
♠ Camels ♣ absent ♥ Animal not present in region.
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥ Animal not present in region.

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ inferred present ♥ Given the wide array of offensive weapons it would be surprising if nothing had evolved to counter them. for example, shields and helmets to absorb the blow of crushing weapons like the mace and battle-axe. We would expect the earliest defenses to not have been made of metal and so unlikely to have been preserved.
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ inferred present ♥ Given the wide array of offensive weapons it would be surprising if nothing had evolved to counter them. for example, shields and helmets to absorb the blow of crushing weapons like the mace and battle-axe. We would expect the earliest defenses to not have been made of metal and so unlikely to have been preserved.
♠ Shields ♣ suspected unknown ♥ The following refers to a later period. Helmet found at Dayangzhou, Xin'gan, Erligang Culture, possibly Huan-bei period.[123] So they almost certainly conceived of the shield, however it might not have been made of metal and preserved? Given the wide array of offensive weapons it would be surprising if nothing had evolved to counter them. for example, shields and helmets to absorb the blow of crushing weapons like the mace and battle-axe. We would expect the earliest defenses to not have been made of metal and so unlikely to have been preserved.
♠ Helmets ♣ inferred absent ♥ First Helmet in the region found at Dayangzhou, Xin'gan, Erligang Culture, possibly Huan-bei period.[124]
♠ Breastplates ♣ inferred absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [125][126]
♠ Limb protection ♣ inferred absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [127][128]
♠ Chainmail ♣ absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [129][130]
♠ Scaled armor ♣ absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [131][132]
♠ Laminar armor ♣ absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [133][134]
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥ Widespread use of armor seems to have developed alongside rise of large infantry forces only in Warring States period, 5th c bce [135][136]

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ absent ♥ "The first recorded use of ships in a military operation occurred circa 1045 B.C.E."[137]
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ absent ♥ "The first recorded use of ships in a military operation occurred circa 1045 B.C.E."[138]
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ absent ♥ "The first recorded use of ships in a military operation occurred circa 1045 B.C.E."[139]

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ present ♥ Yen-shih: "It was probably erected shortly after the conquest in the heart of enemy territory to serve as a fortress" [140]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ suspected unknown ♥ Earthen walls used. Wooden walls not impossible but these less likely to leave archaeological record, unless very substantial (post holes).
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ present ♥ Rammed-earth defensive walls: "Comparing the inner and outer walls, the inner walls are built on a more or less rectangular plan aligned roughly 20 degrees east of north5 and were built directly upon the ground surface. The outer wall, on the other hand, was built according to the contours of the land, with a foundation trench to strengthen it, and is currently 12-17 m thick at the base. These facts suggest to Yuan and Zeng (2004) that the walls served different defensive functions, the inner wall protecting the “palaces,” and the outer wall, moat, and lake defending the site as a whole. Another, additional possibility, is that the outer wall served as flood protection." [141] Walls used earth surrounding by bricks or wood [142] At Zhengzhou: "The two external protective walls were similarly pounded, and the outer one was coated with a layer of protective pebbles, presumably to forestall erosion by falling rain and perhaps buttress it against floodwaters." [143] Walls of Zhengzhou made out of earth.[144]
♠ Ditch ♣ inferred present ♥ Ditch.[145]
♠ Moat ♣ present ♥ "The inner walls surrounded an area of about 289 ha, while some parts, if not all, of the inner and outer walls were apparently surrounded by a moat up to 20 m wide." [146]
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ absent ♥ Walls used earth surrounding by bricks or wood [147] No stone used for fortification. Stone walls present in the Neolithic period [148]
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ absent ♥ Walls used earth surrounding by bricks or wood [149]
♠ Fortified camps ♣ suspected unknown ♥ No data.
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ inferred absent ♥ "...the Erlitou primary center was not fortified… the secondary center in the periphery was walled".[150] The following quote may refer to a later period. "The layout of the ancient city of Zhengzhou has been identified after many years of excavations. The city plan is nearly rectangular with two rings of protective walls that form the outer and the inner city. The inner city is approximately rectangular with a perimeter of almost 7,000m and an area of 300ha. The outer city wall only protects the southern and western portions of the site, located 600-1,100m away from the inner city wall (Figure 16.1). The outer wall was designed to follow natural topography surrounding the inner city, obviously having a defensive function." [151]
♠ Long walls ♣ 0 ♥ km. The following is irrelevant to this variable. "The most impressive surviving wall from the second millennium BC (c.1500 BC) encircles the Shang city of Ao, north of modern Zhengzhou in Henan for about seven kilometers."[152] An encircling city wall does not count as a long wall.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥ Gunpowder not present for another couple thousand years.


Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ Jill Levine ♥

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ suspected unknown ♥ There is no specific information on Erlitou kings. [153]
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ suspected unknown ♥ There is no specific information on Erlitou kings. [154]
♠ Impeachment ♣ suspected unknown ♥ There is no specific information on Erlitou kings. [155]

Social Mobility

Status

Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ inferred present ♥ There is no specific information on Erlitou kings or elites. [156]. However if we accept Erlitou as the Xia Dynasty, then legend tells us that the power transfer from one head of state to the next was hereditary. "Yu allegedly made the rulership hereditary in his family, thereby founding the first imperial dynasty in China. Tradition gives the names of the dynasty’s successive 16 rulers, ending with Jie." [157]

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ ♥

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ suspected unknown ♥

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ Ideology reinforces prosociality ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ production of public goods ♣ suspected unknown ♥

Moralizing Supernatural Powers

♠ Moral concern is primary ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is certain ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing norms are broad ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is targeted ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement of rulers ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by elites ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing religion adopted by commoners ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in afterlife ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement in this life ♣ inferred absent ♥
♠ Moralizing enforcement is agentic ♣ inferred absent ♥

These data were reviewed by expert advisors and consultants. For a detailed description of these data, refer to the relevant Analytic Narratives, reference tables, and acknowledgements page. [158] [159] [160]

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