Context and Meaning in Late Neolithic Lithic Production in China: The Longshan Period in Southeastern Shandong Province



The political, economic, ideological, and symbolic roles that stone tools and their production have played in many contexts have been clearly shown in archaeological and ethnographic research results. However, lithics in China have been absent from this discourse. This chapter looks at survey lithics recovered from a 313-square-kilometer regional area in Rizhao, Shandong Province, China, and at excavated lithics from the Liangchengzhen site, a regional elite-oriented late Neolithic Longshan period (ca. 2600–2000 B.C.) center in the midst of this survey area. These lithics are used to identify the nature of relationships between settlements, the social identity of stone workers, and the role of stone-working in the creation and maintenance of place in Neolithic China. Production in three different locations varied considerably and lithic production in the region's most important center was replete with political, economic, and ideological meaning. This study concludes that stone-working and its products would have been important in the creation of Liangchengzhen as a powerful place in the late Neolithic world of eastern China.