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The third international conference on "Archaeology and Conservation along the Silk Road" was met with as much enthusiasm as the earlier ones, with participants joining from near and far. The historic city of Tabriz, which once was the melting pot for cultures across the Silk Road(s), now as venue of this conference from 14-16 November 2018, facilitated dialogues to re-live, re-exchange and re-search the impact that Silk Road has had from then to now. Albeit a century-old topic of academic discourse, the Silk Road(s) continues to open up variety of new disciplinary and regional fronts; included in this volume. The Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Iran, collaborated with the Nanjing University, China, and the Institute of Conservation, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria, for this congress, which saw plenty of scientific studies on material heritage and their resultant significance in shaping the lifestyle and trade in different regions along the Silk Road(s).
Focusing on Bronze Age societies in Central Eurasia and North China, this book presents a new scenario of early social evolution. Essentially it integrates the Marxist production-relation concept and the community concept into the Band-Tribe-Chiefdom-State scheme, and formulates the following three hypotheses: 1) The community is an autonomous agent in political, economic, and cultural spheres; 2) The nature of the early social evolution is that the inter-community differentiation at the tribal stage transforms into the inter-community stratification at the chiefdom and state stages; 3) Metal production as a form of economy is a major force that instigates the inter-community differentiation. In testing the three hypotheses, Bronze Age archaeological data from Central Eurasia and North China are subjected to detailed examination. The Central Eurasian societies and the Late Shang kingdom are all engaged in metal production yet they represent two disparate stages of social development, the tribal and state stages respectively. This contrast gives us an excellent opportunity to reflect upon the trajectory of early social evolution and the role of metal production in this process. Virtually the two bodies of materials supply a desirable testing ground for the three hypotheses raised above.