Publications by authors named "Robert D Drennan"

5 Publications

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Local economies and household spacing in early chiefdom communities.

PLoS One 2021 27;16(5):e0252532. Epub 2021 May 27.

Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawai'i, United States of America.

Archaeological research has by now revealed a great deal of variation in the way early complex societies, or chiefdoms, developed. This variation is widely recognized, but our understanding of the forces that produced it remains relatively undeveloped. This paper takes aim at such understanding by exploring variation in the local economies of six early chiefdoms; it considers what implications this variation had for trajectories of chiefdom development, as well as the source of that variation. Economic exchange is a primary form of local interaction in all societies. Because of distance-interaction principles, closer household spacing within local communities facilitated more frequent interaction and thus encouraged productive differentiation, economic interdependence, and the development of well-integrated local economies. Well-integrated local economies, in turn, provided ready opportunities for aspiring leaders to accumulate wealth and fund political economies, and pursuit of these opportunities led to societies with leaders whose power had a direct economic base. Wider household spacing, on the other hand, impeded interaction and the development of well-integrated local economies. In such contexts, aspiring leaders were able to turn to ritual and religion as a base of social power. Even when well-integrated local economies offered opportunities for wealth accumulation and a ready source of funding for political economies, these opportunities were not always taken advantage of. That variation in the shapes of early chiefdoms can be traced back to patterns of household spacing highlights the importance of settlement and interaction in explaining not just chiefdom development, but societal change more generally.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0252532PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8158874PMC
May 2021

Archaeology as a social science.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 May 30;109(20):7617-21. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85298, USA.

Because of advances in methods and theory, archaeology now addresses issues central to debates in the social sciences in a far more sophisticated manner than ever before. Coupled with methodological innovations, multiscalar archaeological studies around the world have produced a wealth of new data that provide a unique perspective on long-term changes in human societies, as they document variation in human behavior and institutions before the modern era. We illustrate these points with three examples: changes in human settlements, the roles of markets and states in deep history, and changes in standards of living. Alternative pathways toward complexity suggest how common processes may operate under contrasting ecologies, populations, and economic integration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1201714109DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356624PMC
May 2012

Hongshan chiefly communities in Neolithic northeastern China.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2010 Mar 11;107(13):5756-61. Epub 2010 Mar 11.

Department of Anthropology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.

The Hongshan societies of northeastern China are among East Asia's earliest complex societies. They have been known largely from elaborate burials with carved jades in ceremonial platforms. The most monumental remains are concentrated in a "core zone" in western Liaoning province. Residential remains are less well known and most investigations of them have been in peripheral regions outside the core zone. Recent regional settlement pattern research around the well known ceremonial site of Dongshanzui has begun to document the communities that built and used Hongshan core zone monuments and to assess their developmental dynamics. The core zone, like the Hongshan periphery, appears to have been organized into a series of small chiefly districts within which ceremonial activities were important integrative forces. Their estimated populations of less than 1,000 are not much larger than those of districts in the periphery, and the evidence does not suggest that these districts were integrated into any larger political entity. The greater elaboration of core zone monumental architecture is thus not attributable to demographically larger communities or to larger-scale political integration. Future research should focus on documenting the organization of statuses and economic activities within these core zone communities to assess potential differences from peripheral communities in these regards.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1000949107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851873PMC
March 2010

Patterned variation in prehistoric chiefdoms.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2006 Mar 10;103(11):3960-7. Epub 2006 Feb 10.

Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.

Comparative study of early complex societies (chiefdoms) conjures visions of a cultural evolutionary emphasis on similarities and societal typology. Variation within the group has not been as systematically examined but offers an even more productive avenue of approach to fundamental principles of organization and change. Three widely separated trajectories of early chiefdom development are compared here: the Valley of Oaxaca (Mexico), the Alto Magdalena (Colombia), and Northeast China. Archaeological data from all three regions are analyzed with the same tools to reveal variation in human activities, relationships, and interactions as these change in the emergence of chiefly communities. Patterning in this variation suggests the operation of underlying general principles, which are offered as hypotheses that merit further investigation and evaluation in comparative study of a much larger number of cases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0510862103DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449628PMC
March 2006
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