Interregional contacts and geographic preconditions in the prehistoric Liangshan region, Southwest China

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<ul><li><p>ec</p><p>les E</p><p>rew</p><p>cate</p><p>ups in</p><p>major topics of discussion in archaeology since its beginnings as a</p><p>Located at the intersection of the QinghaieTibet and theYunnaneGuizhou-Plateau and bordering on the Sichuan Basin, theLiangshan region is a connection point of several cultural-</p><p>mental this paper I rstditions, includingroutes of trafc. Incord, focusing onbining computer-al archaeologicalch of these foreignn, the reasons ford the routes and</p><p>mechanisms through which they arrived in the new location.Based on these analyses, I argue that questions of environmental</p><p>preconditions, inter-group contact, and local cultural and socialprocesses are intrinsically connected, without any of them pre-determining the other. The complexities of the Liangshan regionexemplify how people can interact within marginal environments,thus serving as an exemplary study for theoretical and methodo-logical issues of research on mechanisms of cultural contacts andhuman movement in the landscape.</p><p>* The Friedberg Center for East Asian Studies, Faculty of Humanities Rm. 6328,The Hebrew Universityof Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel.</p><p>E-mail addresses:,, margiana2002@</p><p>Contents lists availab</p><p>Quaternary In</p><p>journal homepage: www.el</p><p>Quaternary International xxx (2013) The methodological and theoretical aspects of these is-sues have so far largely been argued on the basis of ethnographicstudies and socialeanthropological theories. As the kind of infor-mation available to cultural anthropologists is very different fromwhat the archaeologist is faced with, such studies are difcult toapply in archaeological research. To alleviate this problem, thisstudy starts from the concrete body of archaeological material ofthe Liangshan region in southwest China, discussing various kindsof contact situations and their underlying motivations.</p><p>To unlock the research potential of the region,provide an overview of local geographic preconthe availability of natural resources and possiblea second step, I describe the archaeological resigns of outside contact and their origins. Comaided spatial analysis (GIS) with traditionmethods of typology and statistics, I consider eaelements in its context, pondering their functiotheir acceptance by the local populations, ancord, and the mechanisms of contact between them, have been case study for questions of cultural contacts and their environ-1. Introduction</p><p>The identication of cultural gro1040-6182/$ e see front matter 2013 Elsevier Ltd a</p><p>Please cite this article in press as: Hein, ASouthwest China, Quaternary Internationalenvironmental preconditions. This paper unlocks the research potential of the Liangshan region by rstproviding an overview of local prehistoric cultural developments and their geographic preconditions,focusing on signs of outside contacts and their possible origin; in a second step, it suggests routes andtypes of contact and their motivations. I argue that questions of cultural identity, inter-group contact, andhumaneenvironment interaction cannot be treated separately but have to be considered in combination.At the same time, the case at hand shows that the environment is not just a limiting or determiningfactor: even marginal environments can be used in a variety of ways and do not necessarily lead toconict among neighboring populations. I therefore argue that in the emergence of contact networks andacceptance of foreign traits, cultural decisions are just as important as and sometimes even moreimportant than geographic preconditions.</p><p> 2013 Elsevier Ltd and INQUA. All rights reserved.</p><p>the archaeological re-</p><p>geographic regions. The multitude of different groups living inand passing through this area since the late 3rd millennium BChave left a highly complex material record that provides an idealchanneled the early exchange along Chinas western frontier. The archaeological material from this re-gion therefore provides an ideal case study for research on mechanisms of cultural contact and theirAvailable online xxx China; it is dominated by the towering Hengduan Mountains, whose northesouth oriented ridgesInterregional contacts and geographic prLiangshan region, Southwest China</p><p>Anke Marion Hein a,b,*aCotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), 308 CharCA 90095-1510, USAb The Friedberg Center for East Asian Studies, Faculty of Humanities Rm. 6328, The Heb</p><p>a r t i c l e i n f o</p><p>Article history:</p><p>a b s t r a c t</p><p>The Liangshan region is lond INQUA. All rights reserved.</p><p>.M., Interregional contacts(2013), in the prehistoric</p><p>. Young Drive North, A210 Fowler Building, Los Angeles,</p><p>University, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 91905, Israel</p><p>d at the intersection of several cultural-geographic regions in Southwest</p><p>le at ScienceDirect</p><p>ternational</p><p>sevier .com/locate/quaintand geographic preconditions in the prehistoric Liangshan region,16/j.quaint.2013.12.011</p></li><li><p>2. Range of material and suggested approach</p><p>2.1. Spatial and chronological extent of the material</p><p>Geographically, this paper focuses on the southwest Sichuan,the area covered by Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, plusPanzhihua City and adjacent counties in northwest Yunnan(Figs. 1e2). This area is circumscribed by the high mountains ofMuli County in the Northwest, the Dadu River in the North, and theJinsha River in the South. These natural boundaries make it a well-dened geographic entity covering an area of about 81,434 km2, alittle smaller than Austria (83,855 km2).</p><p>Chronologically, this paper concentrates on the material pre-dating the onset of large-scale Han inuence during the 1st cen-tury AD, which brought about dramatic cultural and social changesthat are clearly reected in the material record. To achieve a multi-dimensional picture that reects changes throughout time andspace, the study includes all available prehistoric material. The timespan covered in this paper thus extends from the mid-third to theend of the rst millennium BC.</p><p>2.2. State of previous research and scope of the present study</p><p>Whereas other parts of Sichuan Province have been explored byarchaeologists since the late 19th century, systematic archaeolog-ical work in the Liangshan region did not start until the 1970s(Liangshan, 1977). The amount of available excavated material isthus limited and issues of chronological and cultural development</p><p>remain highly debated. As most sites are single-phased andradiocarbon dates are few, the local chronology is largely based ontypological comparisons with other regions. Most scholars explainthe presence of objects of foreign character in the local contextthrough inuence or contact, but usually without consideringthe nature of these connections.</p><p>This paper discusses the nature of these connections through ananalysis of archaeological material and geographic preconditions.As a rst step, I consider theoretical and methodological assump-tions underlying research on cultural contact. Next, I provide anoverview of the geographic preconditions in the research area,paying particular attention to raw material distribution and otherincentives for inter-regional contacts as well as possible routes ofinteraction. Only then do I introduce the archaeological material,paying particular attention to evidence for outside contacts.</p><p>My study is based on information from 313 sites, including 82settlements,191 grave sites, 26multi-purpose sites, and 14 depositsand single nds (Fig. 3) compiled from published excavation re-ports, material collections in local research institutes, and personalexcavation participation and survey work (Hein, 2013). The mainmethods that I employ are spatial analysis, typology, and statistics,aimed at nding regular co-occurrences and mutual exclusion ofmaterial traces of past behavior that can serve to identify regionalgroups and signs of contact between them. Finally, I connect thearchaeological evidence with the geographic preconditions to drawconclusions on the motivations for and routes of past contacts,before reassessing methodological and theoretical issues of inter-group contact.</p><p>A.M. Hein / Quaternary International xxx (2013) 1e202Fig. 1. Map showing the location (black square in A) and topographic details of the research</p><p>Please cite this article in press as: Hein, A.M., Interregional contactsSouthwest China, Quaternary International (2013), (B) in East Asia. Modern country and province borders are shown for orientation.</p><p>and geographic preconditions in the prehistoric Liangshan region,016/j.quaint.2013.12.011</p></li><li><p>ternA.M. Hein / Quaternary In2.3. Theoretical and methodological considerations</p><p>The nature of cultural groups and their reection in the materialrecord has long been a heated topic of discussion in archaeologicalresearch.Within the Anglo-American tradition of archaeology, untilthe 1960s it was generally held that the repetitive occurrence ofsimilar typological or stylistic traits could be identiedwith speciccultures, the cultural unit equaling an ethnic and linguistic unit(e.g., Childe, 1929, pp. vevi). It soon became apparent, however,that differences in material remains had no such clear-cut bound-aries. Later approaches therefore directed attention to smallergroups, signaling their distinctiveness through commonalities anddifferences in behavior, which in turn are reected in the materialrecord (e.g., Hodder, 1982).</p><p>A promising approach that has gained popularity since the1990s is based on the chane opratoire concept, which focuseson the process of procurement, production, use, and discard (Sellet,1993). As this approach has an active element and is informed bypractical as well as cultural choices, it is very useful for under-standing both functional and cultural signicance of objectappearance. According to this approach, the congruence andmutual exclusion of such elements indicates the existence ofdiscrete units that could be equated with cultural groups. It is not,however, very realistic to expect such congruence. Instead ofdiscrete units, I expect to nd a range of different overlapping,intersecting, and only in some cases exclusive patterns of behaviorthat can be interpreted as different spheres of identity mirrored inthe archaeological record. To this end, I pay attention to objectgroups and their function in various contexts to identify small-scaleidentity groups and the connections between them.</p><p>On the level of cultural contact, it is not enough to point outsingle objects and then jump to inferences such as migration or</p><p>Fig. 2. Map of administrative units comprising the research area. The map was created in A(, 04/11/2011).</p><p>Please cite this article in press as: Hein, A.M., Interregional contactsSouthwest China, Quaternary International (2013), xxx (2013) 1e20 3contact, to explain similarities between material remains indifferent places. We have to begin by dening what contact is,what types of contact exist, and how we can identify them in thearchaeological record. In migration studies, the term contactgenerally refers to one or several, singular or repeated instances ofencounter between different people or groups of people(Burmeister, 2000). The types of encounter include direct and in-direct exchange and trade, as well as personal interactions such ascommunal eating, drinking, or even marriage or adoption;furthermore, adversary exchanges such as combat and war affectthe communities involved (Cusick, 1998). Contact can be bothdirect and indirect, with objects, technologies, or even abstractconcepts reaching a group through intermediaries by way of trade,gifts, or other kinds of exchange (Olausson, 1988). In the context ofarchaeological research, the term contact generally refers tovarious types of exchange between culture groups. The wordcontact is often used synonymously with interaction which Irv-ing Rouse (1986, p. 11) prominently dened as contact amongindividuals and social groups while carrying out culturalactivities.</p><p>Originally, issues of culture contact were linkedwith discussionson cultural change, that in the late 19th and early 20th centurywere explained through processes of migration or diffusion.The tendency of proponents of diffusionistemigrationist ideas tosuggest far-ung contacts between places as far apart as, e.g., Chinaand Mexico (Heine-Geldern, 1959) without considering routes ormechanisms of such exchanges, has met with much criticism.Although the term diffusion has largely fallen out of favor, ill-dened notions of population movement and contacts are stillthe standard explanation for the high diversity in the material re-cord of Southwest China (e.g., Liu and Tang, 2006; Liangshan andChengdu, 2009).</p><p>rcGIS with administrative data obtained from the China Historical GIS (CHGIS) website</p><p>and geographic preconditions in the prehistoric Liangshan region,16/j.quaint.2013.12.011</p></li><li><p>ternA.M. Hein / Quaternary In4In a paper given in 1987, Tong Enzheng (1990) developed amodel of a crescent-shaped exchange belt stretching from North-east China over Qinghai Province to Yunnan Province. He empha-sized that the similarities in material remains throughout thisregion should not be confused with the presence of a single culture.Instead he suggested the existence of a contact network betweenregions with similar ecological preconditions but different econo-mies. Tong (1990) remarked that there are many possible reasonsfor similarities between archaeological phenomena in differentregions apart from cultural unity or economic exchange.</p><p>His line of argumentation thus closely resembles that of Willeyet al. (1956) who developed a model distinguishing between site-unit intrusions and trait-unit intrusions, differentiating betweencomplete replacement, different levels of amalgamation, andcompletely new developments. Although such a scheme is helpfulfor structuring ones thoughts, it does not answer the questionwhat kind of traces these different kinds of contact may leave in thematerial record and how we can infer from one on the other.</p><p>Various scholars have suggested to measure interaction byquantifying the degree of similarity of style (e.g., Longacre, 1964);however, ethnographic studies show that not all stylistic attributesreect the intensity of intra-group interaction (e.g., Stanislawski,1969). Gravity models proposed in geography suggest a positiverelationship between amount of interaction and population sizeand an inverse relationship with distance; however, as Plog (1976)pointed out, there are many other factors at play, such as the natureof the goods exchanged, the groups involved, and the mechanismsof exchange. Furthermore, different processes may produce thesame spatial pattern, and association is not the same as a causal</p><p>Fig. 3. Map of the Liangshan area showing distribution of archaeological sites by site type. Tpersonal visits to maj...</p></li></ul>


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