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Journal Article

Economic change in the Prehistoric Hexi Corridor (4800–2200 bp), North-West China


Wilkin,  Shevan
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Yang, Y., Ren, L., Dong, G. H., Cui, Y., Liu, R. J., Chen, G., et al. (2019). Economic change in the Prehistoric Hexi Corridor (4800–2200 bp), North-West China. Archaeometry, 61(4), 957-976. doi:10.1111/arcm.12464.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-D4AD-A
It is widely known that the Hexi Corridor in North-West China lies at a hub of trans-Eurasian cultural exchange. Its role became increasingly important during the late prehistoric period, particularly as the ancient Silk Road began to be used. While the profound transformation of local cultural characteristics in the late Neolithic and the Bronze Age is well documented, the detailed economic dynamics of cultural evolution have not yet been clearly illustrated. In this paper, we report on significant new zooarchaeological and faunal isotopic data from the Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the Hexi Corridor. The primary objective is to systematically reconstruct the prehistoric economic context of this area by combining these new data with previous archaeological studies and radiocarbon dates. We argue that the primary economic activities of local inhabitants changed dramatically in the prehistoric Hexi Corridor. This was marked by agricultural production at c.4800–4000 bp, agro-pastoral production at c.4000–3000 bp and animal husbandry at c.3000–2200 bp, respectively. The major subsistence strategies of these three periods show considerable variation. It is very likely that these transformations of economic patterns in the prehistoric Hexi Corridor were primarily triggered by transcontinental cultural exchange and, to a lesser extent, by climate change.