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Pottery Analysis in the burials of Xizhufeng

From:Chinese Archaeology NetWriter:Date:2010-07-02
By Fu Yongxu(MA)      Supervisor: Chen Xingcan
Abstract
In this thesis, I employ methods commonly used by Western archaeologists to examine the technologies used in the production of Longshan pottery and to evaluate the degree of standardization of the Longshan pottery recovered from the site of Xizhufeng.
In the first chapter, I briefly review the short history of research into pottery-making technologies in China from the 1920s to the late 20th century. I also introduce the study of pottery standardization, an approach that is currently popular in Western archaeology.  I define the concept of standardization and identify some potential causes, and I discuss the factors that affect standardization, the relationship between standardization and specialization, and the range of perspectives represented in standardization studies. In addition, I review the studies of standardization that have been conducted in the West and in China.
In the second chapter, I discuss the characteristics of the Xizhufeng site, including its location, its context in the landscape, and the archaeological material it has produced. Particular attention is given to the features of three burials belonging to the Longshan Culture and the funerary objects found in them. I briefly review the studies that have been previously conducted on these three burials.
In the third chapter, I discuss the methods that are employed in my study, in particular, those focusing on the technologies related to pottery manufacture and on the standardization of pottery. On the basis of the results of previous research and ethnoarchaeological observations, I summarize the characteristics of various pottery manufacturing techniques and the traces. The study of standardization involved the collection of, nominal data and metric data and the evaluation of craft levels. The evaluation of the different craft levels of Xizufeng pottery production is based on two criteria: (1) established modern national ceramic rating standards that are applied to both chinaware and fine pottery commodities, and (2) the results of the ethnographic investigation that I conducted. By analyzing dimensional variation between the vessels produced by two modern skilled potters in Gongyi, Henan province, I identify parameters that may distinguish different craft levels. My approach to dimensional analysis with regards to the Xizhufeng pottery has taken into account both archaeological and ethnographic studies conducted by archaeologists from outside China, and the measurement parameters that I have developed reflect the results of these studies.
In the fourth chapter, I use the knowledge and methods discussed in the third chapter to examine the pottery from two of the Longshan burials from Xizhufeng and to evaluate their degrees of standardization. This pottery, including the most sophisticated vessel type known as Gui, was mainly made with the use of fast wheels. In addition, according to the results of nominal data analysis, the style of Xizhufeng pottery is remarkably consistent, probably indicating a high degree of specialization. The results of the metric analysis also suggest that pottery production during the Longshan period at Xizhufeng was probably conducted outside the household in a more developed stage of specialization.
The last chapter summarizes the thesis and emphasizes the challenges and the potential of employing standardization analysis in the study of archaeological material in China.
 
 
 
Key words: Wheel-manufacturing Technology, Standardization, Nominal Data