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Socioeconomic Development in the Bronze Age: Archaeological Understanding of the Transition from the Early to Middle Bronze Age, South Korea

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Title:Socioeconomic Development in the Bronze Age: Archaeological Understanding of the Transition from the Early to Middle Bronze Age, South Korea
Authors:Kim, Bumcheol
Keywords:Korea
Bronze Age
social organization
agricultural intensification
political economy
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Date Issued:2015
Series:Volume 54
Number 1
Abstract:The transition from the Early to Middle Bronze Age in Korea witnessed emergent social complexity. Recently scholars have frequently referenced theoretical constructs developed in Western archaeology in attempts to understand the socioeconomic changes that occurred during this transition. Meanwhile, other researchers have realized that the Korean case can be seen as both compatible with and incompatible with aspects of these generalized socio-evolutionary models, and with specific cases of early complex society emergence elsewhere in the world. Synthesizing the current discussion of these issues, I argue that sociopolitical development in the central and southern parts of the Korean Peninsula during the EBA–MBA transition might have been closely related to economic intensification. This can be understood from a perspective that emphasizes elite control over basic economic resources as a significant factor in this development. However, it is not solely intended here to reveal compatibility or slight incompatibility between generalized theoretical discourse on complex society emergence in various regions of the world and the archaeological case of the Korean Bronze Age. Rather, the aim is to look for potential ways in which Korean Bronze Age archaeology can contribute to future discussion on this significant global topic of archaeological research, which has great promise in Korean Bronze Age studies but has not been very rigorously explored. While presenting an overview of recent research on socioeconomic patterns, the article offers a more extended discussion of a couple of crucial issues in these Korean Bronze Age societies: the varying elite strategies for agricultural intensification and the conflicting factors in deciding household size and composition as an adaptive strategy, particularly in cases of primary producers.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10125/55550
ISSN:0066-8435 (Print)
1535-8283 (E-ISSN)
Appears in Collections: Asian Perspectives, 2015 - Volume 54, Number 1 (Spring)


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