1. Introduction

Huizui is a ground stone tool production site located within the Henan province of China (Fig. 1). The site dates to the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods, including the Yangshao (5000 to 3000 BC), Longshan (3000-2000 BC) and Erlitou (1900-1500 BC) cultures. The focus of the current research is on the Erlitou period, postulated as the earliest state-level society in China (Liu and Hong 2007, 886). Excavations at the urban centre, also called Erlitou, have revealed a culture with palatial/temple remains, social stratification, craft specialisation and elite goods production (Bagley 1999, 164-5; Thorp 1991; Institute of Archaeology 1999). However, so far no evidence has been found for stone tool production at the urban centre.

Figure 1

Figure 1: Yiluo River Basin, Henan Province, China

During the Erlitou period, the site of Huizui reached its largest size of 25 hectares and may have been a regional centre of the Erlitou culture. Preliminary studies at Huizui (Ford 2001; 2004) proposed that part of Huizui's role as a regional centre may have been the production of ground stone tools for export, with particular focus on exporting oolitic dolomite spades to the urban centre of Erlitou. This hypothesis was based on two factors; the large number of spade tool blanks present at Huizui in relation to other tool types, and the presence of finished oolitic dolomite spades at the urban centre of Erlitou, despite a lack of evidence for on-site stone tool production. Huizui is ideally located for this production role, being only 15 kilometres from Erlitou and within five kilometres of the rich lithic sources of the Song Mountains.

Other ground stone tools were also produced at Huizui, with manufacturing evidence for adzes, axes, knives, chisels and grinding slabs, but these appeared to have been produced for local consumption only. Two possible stone tool production-distribution systems were therefore proposed for Huizui; one for export and one for local consumption. To investigate these systems further, a subsequent study (Ford 2007), used an economic approach to identify what differences were present in the production of these six stone tool types that were manufactured at Huizui and whether there is evidence for the presence of different production-distribution systems operating at Huizui. The following discussion outlines the model used in this approach and the results of the investigation.


© Internet Archaeology/Author(s) URL:
Last updated: Wed Jul 1 2009