Stone Tool Production-Distribution Systems at Huizui, China

Anne Ford

Department of Anthropology, Gender and Sociology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Email:

Cite this as: Ford, A. 2009 Stone Tool Production-Distribution Systems at Huizui, China, Internet Archaeology 26.


Different ground stone tool production-distribution systems have been proposed as present at the site of Huizui in the Yiluo River Basin, central China, during the Erlitou period (1900-1500 BC). The current study used an economic approach to identify if differences could be observed between the systems. Using efficiency as the main parameter for comparison; raw material procurement and on-site production were investigated. Raw material procurement was shown to be efficient for all of the tool types studied, with particular focus on distance to source and the functional and extractive properties of the raw materials. Efficiency in production was less clear, with scale of production instead being the distinguishing factor. In total, two different production-distribution systems were identified; the mass produced oolitic dolomite spades which appear to be distributed regionally, and the locally produced and consumed adzes, axes, chisels, knifes and grinding slabs. Both of these systems appeared to be retained within the household context and may have operated independently of elite control, which is a contrast to the heavily circumscribed production and distribution of elite items. This study also showed that whilst efficiency is a useful tool to elicit detailed information from the stone tool production-distribution systems, further parameters need to be included to provide a more accurate contrast between systems.

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