This paper reveals that the household does not appear to have been the unit in which the inheritance of commodities and rights, both symbolic and allocative, occurred, at least not during the Yayoi period on the Japanese archipelago when hierarchy was developing. Instead, the grouping which in this paper is called the basic unit-consisting of around five houses with a shared cluster of storage facilities and a burial ground-functioned in this fashion throughout the period. When social differentiation began in the Late Yayoi period, what became hierarchically situated were not households but these larger units of five or so households probably consisting of siblings, their spouses, and children. The lack of significant evidence of a fixed chiefly position in a particular household over a number of generations suggests that this larger grouping, with its archaeologically recognizable cluster of houses and probably representing a clan segment (i.e., lineage), functioned as a stable pool of candidates for the position of the "chief" of a clan. The development of a social hierarchy based upon a clan-segment rather than a household-based social grouping may have preserved a sense of communal togetherness and equality and enabled the moblization of labor, two characteristics of the classic Asiatic mode of production and state formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)