You are here

Early Pottery, Porridge, Alcohol, and the Development of Social Complexity in China

Date and Time: 
Thursday, January 19, 2017. 05:00 PM - 06:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Stanford Archaeology Center; Building 500, Room 106
Workshop: 
Archaeological Histories and Futures
Meeting Description: 

Ceramic vessel technology had two independent origins in the Old World: East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There are some parallel developments from the two regions in terms of vessel functions. The earliest ceramics from Africa were probably used for boiling wild millet and sorghum; and a long tradition of cooking porridge and brewing beer was developed. In China, pottery vessels during the early Holocene were also used to cook various plant foods including cereals, probably to make porridge. By the period of 9000-7000 BP, a particular vessel form, globular pot, became widespread across a broad region, and some were evidently used for making fermented beverages. During the period of 7000-4500 BP, two broadly defined regional ceramic traditions are observable in China. One is the Dawenkou assemblage in East China, in which ceramics are characterized by great varieties of drinking vessels. The second regional ceramic tradition is the Yangshao culture in Northwest China, characterized by amphora. Amphora were used for beer fermentation and served as drinking vessels for communal siphoning. The northwest-style communal drinking tradition disappeared when the eastern-style drinking tradition, which helped to elaborate personal status and establish social hierarchy, prevailed. This individualized drinking method later became a core cultural value in the Chinese civilization.

Li Liu (PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University) is the Sir Robert Ho Tung Professor in Chinese Archaeology in Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University. Previously she taught archaeology at La Trobe University in Australia for 14 years and was elected as Fellow of Academy of Humanities in Australia. Her research interests include archaeology of Neolithic and Bronze Age, domestication of plants and animals, state formation, settlement archaeology, use-wear analysis of stone tools, and starch analysis.

Workshops Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31