Erlitou and Its Neighbors: Contextualizing Interregional Interaction in the Central Yellow River Region in Ancient China
The primary goal of this dissertation is to explore various possible interaction patterns between Erlitou and its neighboring regions through the approach of contextualization. Under the presupposition that Erlitou was the political center of ancient China, the interregional interaction between Erlitou and its neighboring regions were always interpreted as a “center-periphery” relationship. Instead of Erlitou-centered perspective, this dissertation attempts to adopt the approach of contextualization, investigating how the three main core areas in ancient China, namely the Henan Region in which Erlitou was located, as well as the Hedong Region and the Henei Region which were two major neighboring regions of Erlitou, interacted with each other during the second quarter of the second millennium BC. In the past, scholars put more emphasis on how the center influenced its peripheries. However, this dissertation will also investigate how the peripheries influenced the center and how peripheries interacted with each other. The approach of contextualizing exotic artifacts within local settings provides crucial insights, helping us to reexamine the interaction patterns between the Henan, Hedong, and Henei Regions. The research results reveal a highly complicated interaction network between these three regions during the Erlitou Period. First of all, the relationship between the Henan Region and the Henei Region was getting tense over time due to military conflicts. Besides, the Henei Region revealed a greater influence on the Henan Region. Second, the relationship between the Henan Region and the Hedong Region may have been marked by competition over the metal resources for casting bronze objects. However, the Henan Region seems to have displayed a greater influence on the Hedong Region. Finally, the relationship between the Hedong Region and the Henei Region seems to have been steady. Probably these two regions maintained a situation of peaceful coexistence for a long time in the Erlitou Period.