On February 1-5, 2010, the Scientific Archaeology Center of the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), hosted the first symposium of Chinese and European scholars in biological archaeology. This is a part of the three-year program sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and European Union countries, which aims to unite the forces of Chinese, British, French, and German scholars to build up a platform for collaboration in biological archaeology so as to stage conferences, short-term visiting scholarship programs, publication of research results, and long-term academic networking. Eventually this program aims to activate exchange of scholarship in agricultural origin and stimulate the study of the subject in China.
The symposium was co-chaired by Professor Yuan Jing，the head of the Scientific Archaeology Center of the Institute of Archaeology, CASS, Professor Keith Dobney from University of Aberdeen in Britain, and Dr. Jean Denis Vigne from National Museum of Natural History in France. Scholars from the Scientific Archaeology Center of the Institute of Archaeology, CASS, Jilin University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Graduate School of CASS in China, University of Aberdeen and Durham University in Britain, National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of Ethnicities and Folk Culture in France, and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, attended this conference.
During the symposium, Chinese scholars presented in English their research in zooarchaeology, botanical archaeology, environmental archaeology, genealogical DNA test, and isotopic analysis; in return European scholars presented their research in these fields. These presentations covered the subjects of domestication of animals and plants, the transition from hunting-gathering economy to agriculture, the identification of domesticated pigs by teeth morphology, tracing the origin of domesticated animals with genealogical DNA test, food composition of ancient human and animals through analysis of carbon and nitrogen isotopes, reconstruction of ancient environments and human exploitation of natural resources through carbon analysis, reconstruction of ancient environment through pollen analysis, and reconstruction of functional areas in settlements through the study of soil and insects.
Apart from exchange of research, symposium participants also discussed the prospective of further collaboration and reached several consensuses. Among others, a second Sino-European biological archaeology symposium will be held in France in August of 2010; a website of Sino-European biological archaeology will be founded; field projects that land Sino-European collaborative research onto actual sites are planned; a database of Chinese zooarchaeology and botanical archaeology using the French model will be built up; Chinese publications will be gradually translated into English; Chinese scholars will be invited to participate in the training program in microstructural analysis of soil held by University of Aberdeen; a program of exchange scholarship will be set up to facilitate Chinese and European graduate students to study zooarchaeology and botanical archaeology in China and Europe.
In conclusion, this symposium for the first time provided Chinese and European scholars with a chance to exchange their research in zooarchaeology, botanical archaeology, environmental archaeology, genealogical DNA test, and isotopic analysis. Such face-to-face interaction also enabled them to build up a platform for developing further collaborative programs. It also marks the beginning of mutual learning, mutual understanding, exchange of scholarship, and collaboration between Chinese and European scholars, including post-graduates and graduates. The multiple-field and multiple-level platform will surely advance the study of agricultural origin in China, and the cultural dialogue between the East and the West. (Translated by Zhang Liangren)