An individual can create a stone tool or a pot without assistance, but creating a metal tool like the spear here is a group endeavor—and a complex one. Artifacts like this found in Thailand showed that such metal technology could be developed and exchanged using an economic model based on communities making decisions about how to participate in regional exchange systems. Credit: The Ban Chiang Project
In archaeometallurgy, the study of ancient metal, archaeologists have historically taken a top-down approach, meaning that the jewelry, tools, weapons, and other artifacts they discover have come to signify a dominant ruling group that exerted overarching control over how to use such resources.
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