New Development of Researches on the Origin of Chinese Civilization
Wei WANG, Professor, IA CASS
Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
The origin of Chinese civilization had been the core of Chinese archaeology even from the beginning of modern archaeology in China in 1920s. The exploration of this hot problem now achieves a new stage. On the one hand, some astonishing archaeological discoveries have provided new basic data; on the other hand, with the funding of large multi-disciplines academic projects, scholars of different disciplines can cooperate more efficiently and have got some interesting results.
Social and historical factors in the emergence of an early city: Teotihuacan, Mexico
Ian Robertson, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
Early forms of urbanism are challenging to study archaeologically, in large part because of the scale of the phenomena in question and the costs of acquiring relevant data. Thanks to extraordinary efforts made in the 1960s and 70s to map and document ancient Teotihuacan, one of the earliest and most elaborate expressions of urbanism in the New World, it is possible to examine the foundation and development of this city in some detail. This paper uses data from the digital archives of the Teotihuacan Mapping Project to examine the growth of Teotihuacan, the emergence of urban socio-spatial structures within it, and evidence bearing on the city's eventual decline.
Excavations at Xipo and New Light on the Initial Stage of Social Complexity in the Heartland of Prehistoric China
Xinwei LI, associate professor, IA CASS
Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
The middle Yangshao culture or the Miaodigou culture (cal.4000 to 3000 BC) centered in the western part of the Central Plains area has long been famous for its very influential painted pottery. Yet social structure of the owners of the fine pottery remained a secret to Chinese archaeologists.
The Lingbao city in western Henan is regarded by Chinese archaeologists as the center of the Miaodigou age. Most of the Miaodigou sites larger than 10 ha were discovered within this loess area between the Qinling Mountains to the south and the Yellow River to the north. The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Henan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics started a cooperative project in 1999 in Lingbao, aiming to a better understanding of the initial stage of social complexity of the Miaodigou societies. A survey conducted in 1999 demonstrates a settlement hierarchy in the Lingbao area. Xipo is one of the central sites of its time. Six excavations had been conducted since 2000.The most important discoveries include two large public building – F105 and F106 and a cemetery.
These discoveries have provided a clearer picture of the initial stage of social complexity in the Miaodigou period. More important, the social hierarchy of Miaodigou societies marked by large settlements, large public buildings and large elite burials without abundant prestige goods shows some significant characteristics when comparing with the developmental trajectory of social complexity in other main cultural regions in prehistoric China.
Formative Routes to Hierarchical Societies in the Ancient Andes
John Rick, Associate Professor, Stanford University
The Formative Period of the Peruvian Andes (1800-400 BCE) is best known for its extensive ceremonial centers, and represents a period of transition from relatively egalitarian societies to socio-political systems with at least three-tier status ranking. This talk explores a well-known example of that time, the World Heritage site of Chavin de Huantar -- a series of monumental structures found in a highland valley at 3180 m of altitude. Investigations at Chavin reveal a series of highly elaborate ritual contexts involving architecture, sound, light, and psychoactive drugs as convincing mechanisms for a cult that built authority through differential access to supernatural power.
Oriental tradition in Chinese archaeology
Jigen TANG, Professor, IA CASS
With the lost of innocence, archaeology has experienced a long history of changing. Both old tradition and new knowledge have been playing great roles in shaping modern archaeology. As a discipline imported from the west world, Chinese archaeology accepts all the basic theories and methods developed in Europe or North America. On the other hand, Chinese archaeology is also influenced by its own culture. For example, we cannot ignore the contributions of Jinshixue (Chinese palaeography) to the early development of Chinese archaeology. Will local tradition continue to serve the principles of the Chinese archaeology in future? How? Those are questions we need to pay attention.
Heritage Resource Management: Best Practices and Strategies for Preservation of Important Sites and Structures
Laura Jones, Director of Heritage Services, Stanford University
Heritage resources are an important public asset. Preservation is promoted through national, state and local laws, review by elected officials, and opportunities for public participation in the review process. Two critical elements for insuring high quality heritage preservation will be discussed: 1) qualifications for professional archaeologists, historians and architects and 2) standards for the identification, evaluation and treatment of heritage sites and structures. Partnerships with educational institutions and public outreach are also critical preservation strategies.
Centre and Periphery: Resource Strategy of Early State of China---A Case Study from Huizui
Xingcan CHEN, Professor, IA CASS
The Sino-Australian Yiluo Project focuses on the core areas of early state in China, and particularly aims to obtain insights into the social-political process in the Erlitou urban center and hinterland. Recent interdisciplinary researches have revealed much new information about the production and distribution of utilitarian and elite goods, leading to a new understanding of relationships between center and periphery.
Foreign Contacts before the Silk Road/Routes — Archaeological Observations
Xiaoneng YANY, Curator of Asian Art, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Archaeological excavations and surveys during the last several decades in China have revealed abundant information that points to extensive contacts between cultures in China proper and those outside China before the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), when it was traditionally believed that the famous Silk Road was established. These discoveries have not only enhanced our understandings of China’s past, but have also inspired vigorous debates and investigations of issues such as the origins of agriculture (particularly wheat), the domestication of horses, the development of metallurgy (bronze & iron), and foreign trade and exchange. This talk will discuss the achievements, problems, and directions of research on these topics.
The Wheat Route – Archaeological Observations of Early Wheat in China
Jimmy Zhijun ZHAO, Professor, IA CASS
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) was domesticated in the Near East. Later on it spread eastwards into China, and gradually replaced the millets and became the dominated crop of the agriculture in North China. However, the pathway by which wheat spread eastwards and the time when wheat reach into the middle Yellow River area, the core area of ancient Chinese civilization, are still in issue. Because the Silk Road played an important role for the cultural contacts between West and East during the historical time, it was usually believed that the eastward spread of wheat into China had a similar pathway, by which the Gansu Corridor was the key route must be taken. The wheat remains found in 1980s from the Donghuishan site, located at the Gansu Corridor, were usually used as an archaeological evidence for this idea. However, the new radiocarbon dates indicate that the Donghuishan wheat was not as old as the original thought. Thanks for the recent development of archaeobotany in Chinese archaeology, especially the application of floatation technique in excavations, a tremendous amount of plant remains, including many new data about the early wheat have been found from archaeological sites in China. Most of the early wheat remains were dated to a period of time between 3500 BP and 4500 BP, suggesting that wheat was introduced into China sometime around 4000 BP. Interesting enough, the earliest wheat remains found in China at moment concentrate in the middle-lower Yellow River area, i.e., eastern part of China. This suggests that it might exist another pathway or several different pathways by which wheat spread into China, for example, through Mongolian Grassland, or along coast areas of South Asia and Southeast Asia.
The Impact of Archaeological Discoveries on Art Historical Understandings of Chinese Painting
Richard Vinograd, Professor, Stanford University
Archaeological discoveries during the past several decades have dramatically enhanced the corpus of reliable and datable monuments of Chinese painting, in eras ranging from the 3rd c. BCE to the early Ming dynasty. Questions concerning painting materials, techniques, styles, functions, and iconographies have been illuminated by such discoveries. While archaeologically recovered material provides the prime monuments for art historical accounts of painting for China’s early imperial period, integrating archaeology with painting history has been more challenging in studies of later imperial China, tenth century and after. This paper will consider some of the disciplinary, narrative, and evidentiary issues involved.
Large Site Protection in China: Recent Development
Jinpeng DU, Professor, IA CASS
China owns a big number of large sites of different sizes, time periods and types in different regions. In the past years, the State Administration of Culture Heritage has organized several projects for the preservation of these large sites. The Institute of Archaeology, CASS is also very active in the protection of large sites. The talk will give a brief introduction on some projects the institute has conducted in recent years, including the selecting of 100 most important large sites in China for urgent protection and the formulating of protection plans at several ancient capital sites.
Questioning Collapse: Narratives of Disappearance at Chaco Canyon and the Hohokam Heartland in the American Southwest
Michael Wilcox, Assistant Professor, Stanford University
In recent years, popular publications by American author Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel, and Collapse: the Fates of Human Societies) have suggested that environmental mismanagement, overpopulation and drought led to the collapse of ancient urban centers in the American Southwest. This paper will explore the popular mythology of societal collapse and disappearance among Native American societies and argue for cultural continuity with contemporary Pueblo and Pima (O’Odham) peoples.