Huangtucheng regional archaeological survey
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This study examines the settlement patterns and evolution of social complexity of the upper Huai River region of China from 5000 B.C. to A.D. 220. This region is typically viewed as a peripheral area between core areas in Yellow and Yangtze River regions to the north and south. I argue that the Huai peoples should be viewed as having their own pathway to social complexity, rather than as passive receivers of influences from their neighbors to the north, south and east. I interpret data from a 209 km2 full-coverage pedestrian archaeological survey centered on the large, previously known Neolithic site of Huangtucheng. We conducted the work during 2006–2007, recorded 76 sites with 446 temporal components, and made 1102 collection units (most 50 m by 50 m), collecting over 10,000 artifacts. Huangtucheng was the largest and most complex settlement in the survey area for most periods. We carried out detailed mapping and coring at it. It was probably a walled town in the Late Neolithic. Survey data show a long continuity of occupation from 5000 B.C. onward, with demographic peaks in the Late Neolithic (3500–1900 B.C.) and slow growth in the Early Bronze Age (1900–1600 B.C.). People initially occupied small villages adjacent to watercourses in the Early Yangshao period (5000–4000 B.C.), then spread to occupy upland locations in the Late Longshan period (2500–1900 B.C.). At ~3500 B.C., Huangtucheng reached nearly 30 ha and dominated a three-tiered settlement hierarchy. Population increased in the Late Longshan period, when the survey area’s population may have exceeded 10,000, and local settlement clusters became apparent. Settlement density and population markedly decreased at the Erlitou period (1900–1600 B.C.) with a dispersed pattern. The region regained its demographic density in the Late Shang and Western Zhou period (~1400–771 B.C.). Rural population approached modern levels in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.). This project is the first full-coverage survey in the understudied Huai River region. It provides a case study for comparison with other regions where states emerged. In addition, 12 Chinese archaeological students learned modern full-coverage survey methods.