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The emergence of complex society in China: the case of Liangzhu

  • Colin Renfrew (a1) and Bin Liu (a2)

Recent research at Liangzhu in China documents the settlement as a fortified town dating from 3300–2300 BC, accompanied by an impressive system of earthen dams for flood control and irrigation. An earthen platform in the centre of the town probably supported a palace complex, and grave goods from the adjacent Fanshan cemetery include finely worked jades accompanying high-status burials. These artefacts were produced by a complex society more than a millennium before the bronzes of the Shang period. The large-scale public works and remarkable grave goods at Liangzhu are products of what may be the earliest state society in East Asia.

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