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Subsistence, enviromental fluctuation and social change: A case study in south central Inner Mongolia

Indrisano, Gregory G. (2006) Subsistence, enviromental fluctuation and social change: A case study in south central Inner Mongolia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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According to the early Chinese textual accounts, the polities of the Central Plain beginning in the Zhou, colonized the territory north of the Wei River, through the Ordos Region under the Great Bend of the Yellow River and north to the borders of modern Mongolia. The historical model suggested that military expansion and cultural diffusion expanded the agricultural lifeway of the empire through population replacement, but the texts do not describe the local social and political environment into which these policies were imposed. Liangcheng County, in central Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, is an excellent location to study the integration of populations into the Central Plain political system (500 BCE-200 CE). Archaeological survey provides the diachronic perspective that is necessary to examine the process of integration and to facilitate an understanding of how the intrusive social systems affected the indigenous social and political environment. During the chaotic Warring States period, Central Plain bureaucrats co-opted the feudal manor system of the Western Zhou and created a system of compact villages that assisted administrative control and increased agricultural production. The data here suggest that it is the village system that is exported to Liangcheng. Although the traditional interpretation suggests population replacement, in Liangcheng a settlement system characterized by single family homesteads on land that is not productive for agriculture persists from the Neolithic to the Han Dynasty period. The combination of new farming villages introduced during the Warring States period and the persistence of dispersed homestead sites suggests a gradual process of acculturation to Central Plain social norms, not a wholesale replacement of population. Not until the Han Dynasty does a majority of the populace move into villages on the best agricultural lands. The stability of the settlement pattern from the Neolithic into the Warring States period in similar locations that are not particularly advantageous for agriculture suggests that indigenous subsistence systems changed little until the Han Dynasty, implying that in Liangcheng, subsistence responded not to environmental fluctuation, but to social and political change.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Indrisano, Gregory
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLinduff, Katheryn M.linduff@pitt.eduLINDUFF
Committee MemberHsu, Cho-yun
Committee MemberAllen, Kathleen M.kmallen@pitt.eduKMALLEN
Committee MemberDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Date: 28 September 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 April 2006
Approval Date: 28 September 2006
Submission Date: 20 June 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: archaeology; China; Han Dynasty; settlement patterns
Other ID:, etd-06202006-003151
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:48
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:44


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