Martin T. Bale - 2012-2013 Postdoctoral Associate, Council on East Asian Studies at Yale University and Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, Yale University
The concept of storage lurks in the background of archaeological studies on the origins of early complex societies. However, a problem with many studies of formation and change in societies is that the significance of storage is assumed rather than demonstrated. In this talk, the practice of storage in prehistoric Korea and its relationship with structural changes of a socio-political nature are reviewed. The archaeological features of the storage landscape in the Mumun Pottery Period (c. 1500-300 BC) changed in form diachronically and demonstrate that household storage remained constant during the period, and that it was not completely replaced by extra-household storage. Elite actors seem to have had some influence on the nature of storage in at least two central-place settlements, but appear to have been unable to completely control stored agricultural surplus there, and had little control over the surrounding areas. This shows that the typical concept of staple finance cannot be invoked to describe how Mumun societies became incipiently complex. Similarly, previous studies suggest that wealth finance is problematic to characterize formative complexity in the Mumun. This talk concludes with the assessment of alternative explanations of social change in order to understand how and why the Mumun became complex.