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Aggregation, status competition and levelling mechanisms in prehistoric Chulmun, Korea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 September 2021

Minkoo Kim*
Department of Anthropology Chonnam National University Yongbong-ro 77, GwangjuRepublic of Korea Email:


This article discusses the aggregation and dispersion of the Chulmun hunter-gatherers (c. 8000–1500 bce) in prehistoric Korea. The following observations are made from settlement datasets. First, large numbers of houses do not necessarily imply aggregation, as they can be palimpsests of dwelling structures from different phases. Second, aggregation settlements were segmented and contained multiple discrete subunits. Individual residential clusters typically had fewer than 60 inhabitants. Third, there are some indications of social hierarchy in nucleated settlements such as Unseo-dong. Fourth, despite some evidence of emergent elites and social differentiation, social complexity did not intensify over the long run. Levelling mechanisms (e.g. group fission) were in operation and they suppressed the institutionalization of social hierarchy.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research

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