Abstract

Potsherds of thick walls with coarse inclusions have been found in several archaeological sites in South China, associated with flaked or ground stone tools and ground organic implements. This paper focuses on the natural and cultural contexts, the chronology, and the characteristics of the early pottery found in South China, as well as the impetus to the origin of pottery and several related issues. It is argued that the earliest potters in South China were affluent foragers, who lived on diversified natural resources and were members of egalitarian societies. The earliest pottery in this region is tentatively dated to approximately 12,000 years ago, characterized by thick, crumbled walls built by hand pinching and without decoration. Although potsherds found in South China may not be the earliest in terms of the absolute dates, they represent the very beginning of pottery manufacturing as a technological invention from the terminal Pleistocene to the early Holocene in southern East Asia. Based on current archaeological data and the results of multi-disciplinary analyses, it is argued that South China seems to have been an area for the origin of pottery, which might have been associated with subsistence strategy changes. Furthermore, there might have been cultural exchanges between the prehistoric potters in South China and those in adjacent areas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 1-42
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-01
Open Access
No
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