The Collapse of Chinese Early States: The Cases of Taosi and Erlitou
Abstract: The study of early states has become a focus in the foreign academic circle, but it has not been paid enough attention in our country. The article is to explore the collapse process and model of Chinese early states by examing tow cases of Taosi[陶寺] and Erlitou[二里头], which lie in the Linfen Basin of Southen Shanxi[山西] Province (for short, Jinnan[晋南]) and the Yiluo River Basin of Western Henan Province (for short, Yuxi[豫西]) respectively.
According to the available evidence now, the mid-term of Taosi Culture and the second term of Erlitou Culture belonged to the stage of early state. But these two early states have not persisted up to the present. The Taosi Sate disappeared completely as the city, palace, huge building and tomb zone of 280,000,000 squared meters became deserted in the mid-term of Taosi Culture. The same happened to the Erlitou state when it had existed for 200 years: the wall of palace and great palace were destructed, the handicraft workshops with surrounding walls were deserted, and the population decreased sharply.
The collapse of Taosi and Erlitou States are due to the fact that their rulers built too many great buildings and made too luxurious livings. When the social conflict became extremely serious and the political machine of state did not work well, the opponents of Taosi State revolted from inside and Erlitou State was attacted from outside, which led to the collapse of the two early states.
As far as Taosi was concerned, its social organizaztion degenerated into the simple chiefdom form after its demise. At the same time, Erlitou State became a colony of its suzerain Erligang[二里岗] State which had conquered it.
Key words: early state, chiefdom, colony, collapse