Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Emergence of Agricultural Society: A Chronological Review of the Early and Middle Bronze Age on the Korean Peninsula
by Choi, Won, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2011, 239; 3499419
Abstract (Summary)

It is generally known that the expansion of the Songguk-ri culture during the Middle Bronze Age was closely related with the spread of rice paddy agriculture over the Korean Peninsula. Despite this general agreement, however, we do not have a good grasp of the procedure of spread of Songguk-ri culture in Korea: many different regional variations around the Songguk-ri culture what is called Pre-Songguk-ri culture have interfered with our comprehension of the process of emergence and development of the Songguk-ri culture. Also absolute dates corresponding to the Pre-Songguk-ri material culture are not accumulated enough to build a fine chronology and the date corresponds to the well-known wiggles in the calibration curve between 800–400 BC, where most of the MBA sites are located. The recent increase of radiocarbon dates, however, still provides chances for exploring temporal patterns of the Bronze Age (BA) artifact types through suitable statistical analyses, and then these temporal patterns were expected to enable to rearrange material cultures and their chronological relations during the BA of Central Korea.

A total of 412 radiocarbon dates from 278 pithouses were collected and dates from the same pithouse are combined through testing their contemporaneity by using some statistical techniques: t-test, F-test, and Chauvenet's criterion, and weighing and averaging their values in order to obtain an accurate calibrated date as well as to avoid giving much more weight to the pithouses with multiple dates and their associated artifacts. Then these radiocarbon dates were used to produce the summed probability distribution of the calibrated dates associated with each artifact type using CALPAL and interpret the distribution as a proxy for the temporal distribution of the artifact type.

For the spatial analyses at a macro level, the artifact data were incorporated into a GIS database and map 210 sites as point features with coordinates. Two spatial statistical techniques, standard distance and standard deviational ellipse, are applied to draw spatial pattering of each artifact type using pertinent analytical tools of ArcGIS program and multi-distance spatial cluster analysis, also known as the Ripley's K-function.

These analytical tools were applied to tool assemblages, pottery, and pithouses to examine their temporal and spatial distributions and establish a detailed chronology for the Early and Middle Bronze Age. As a result, it is possible to confirm that the frequency and spatial distribution of artifacts changed greatly around 2950 Cal BP and 2750 Cal BP, suggesting that a new subsistence strategy developed in the lower and middle reaches of the Geum River region. Especially the region of the middle and lower reaches of the Geum River was found to have distinctly different characteristics. The dynamic and diachronic change of Bronze Age culture was also observed in detail through pottery and pithouses.

To sum up, the reduction in size of the large rectangular shaped pithouses for this period suggests that changes were taking place in the organizational system of the community and that there was large-scale population movement to find new farmlands suitable for rice paddy agriculture as opposed to the previous method of dry field farming. And the middle and lower reaches of the Geum River, the Yeongsan River region and the Nakdong River region may have been suitable for this newly adopted subsistence strategy. In other words, the spread of the Songguk-ri culture was not through the diffusion of a culture from its stable core to its peripheries, but occurred in conjunction with the dispersal and movement of populations which followed changes in subsistence strategy and which resulted in the formation of a new culture. In addition, in this period of social upheaval, it may have been the less stable cultural peripheries, rather than the cultural core regions, that were more likely do adopt new cultural elements (in particular, with regard to subsistence) and attempt change. The fact that Pre-Songguk-ri or Songguk-ri style pithouses are rarely found in the central region of the Yeoksamdong culture sphere, and the chaotic nature of the cultural assemblages of the area south of the Yeoksamdong culture sphere may be understood in this context.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bettinger, Robert L.
Commitee: Bettinger, Robert L., Darwent, Christyann M., Winterhalder, Bruce P.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Archaeology
Keywords: Bronze age, Calpal, Chronology, Emergence of agriculture, Korean peninsula, Multi-distance spatial cluster analysis, Ripley's k-function, Songguk-ri
Publication Number: 3499419
ISBN: 978-1-267-23845-0
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