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Abstract

Questions relating to state emergence in China are often intertwined with the origins of early dynasties. This subject involves many disciplines, including archaeology, history, and anthropology, and scholars from these fields often employ different definitions for states/civilization, use various approaches, and address diverse issues. This article intends to provide an overview of major archaeological findings, approaches, interpretations, and debates on certain issues. Controversial questions include whether some of late Neolithic polities can be considered early states, and whether ancient textual accounts can be used to guide archaeological interpretations. It may not be possible in the near future to alter the historiographically determined approach, which pervades Chinese archaeology, but social-archaeology methods for investigating the political-economic system on regional and interregional scales have proven productive.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164513
2009-10-21
2024-06-25
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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