Ceramic Production as Collective Activities in Xiantouling Culture (c.7000-5000 BP)

Cheng Jing

Yale University, U.S.A.jing.cheng.jc3748@yale.edu 

There is good archaeological evidence at Xiantouling culture sites in the Lingnan region, Southern China (c.7000-5000 BP) for intensification in ceramic production. The importance of pottery manufacture to economies within this culture is highlighted by the large amount of complete pottery vessels found at Xiajiaoshan, Shenzhen, Southern China. I argue that the massive quantity of ceramic indicates long-term, highly organized activities requiring more than one kind of collaboration among by the hunter-gather-fisher societies represented at Xiajiaoshan. Two completing models, the ritual hypothesis, and the communal storage hypothesis, are raised in this research in order to explain the collective activities that resulted in the unusual ceramic assemblages at Xiajiaoshan. Investigation of the changes in the ceramic production at Xiajiaoshan through depositional patterning of materials, and geochemical signals of ceramic wares, facilitates discussion on observed changes in resource allocation and management over time in prehistoric coastal societies. Pottery vessels produced and deposited as part of collective activities illustrate the significance of craftmanship for maintaining larger-scale social formations and creating networks among dispersed hunter-gatherer-fisher groups. The evidence of communal activities also demonstrates the transfer and inheritance of collective knowledge of prehistoric societies in the Pearl River Estuary.