China in the Early Bronze Age
Publication Year: 2013
One of the great breakthroughs in Chinese studies in the early twentieth century was the archaeological identification of the earliest, fully historical dynasty of kings, the Shang (ca. 1300-1050 B.C.E.). The last fifty years have seen major advances in all areas of Chinese archaeology, but recent studies of the Shang, their ancestors, and their contemporaries have been especially rich. Since the last English-language overview of Shang civilization appeared in 1980, the pace of discovery has quickened. China in the Early Bronze Age: Shang Civilization is the first work in twenty-five years to synthesize current knowledge of the Shang for everyone interested in the origins of Chinese civilization.
China in the Early Bronze Age traces the development of early Bronze Age cultures in North and Northwestern China from about 2000 B.C.E., including the Erlitou culture (often identified with the Xia) and the Erligang culture. Robert L. Thorp introduces major sites, their architectural remains, burials, and material culture, with special attention to jades and bronze. He reviews the many discoveries near Anyang, site of two capitals of the Shang kings. In addition to the topography of these sites, Thorp discusses elite crafts and devotes a chapter to the Shang cult, its divination practices, and its rituals. The volume concludes with a survey of the late Shang world, cultures contemporary with Anyang during the late second millennium B.C.E. Fully documented with references to Chinese archaeological sources and illustrated with more than one hundred line drawings, China in the Early Bronze Age also includes informative sidebars on related topics and suggested readings.
Students of the history and archaeology of early civilizations will find China in the Early Bronze Age the most up-to-date and wide-ranging introduction to its topic now in print. Scholars in Chinese studies will use this work as a handbook and research guide. This volume makes fascinating reading for anyone interested in the formative stages of Chinese culture.
Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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List of Illustrations
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A Note on Documentation
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The text is furnished with notes that credit Chinese-language sources.Books are cited by author, title (in Chinese romanization only) anddate; unless otherwise noted, all publications were produced in Beijing.Kaoguxue jikan, Kaogu xuebao, Wenwu, Wenwu Ziliao Congkan respectively),with year and issue number. Authorship is indicated when individuals are...
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For anyone interested in ancient China, the last three decades have beena proverbial golden age. This era began in 1972, even before the chaos ofthe Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (wenhua da geming) had sub sided. Two actions taken by the government introduced the world tocontemporary Chinese archaeology. First, the three nationaljournals of...
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Early Bronze Age societies grew from deep roots in several regions ofmodern-day China. Before embarking on our survey of those develop ments, we should review both the physical setting and cultural develop Most readers carry in their heads an icon of China derived from con temporary maps. This mental picture represents the greater part ofEast...
1. Dawn of the Bronze Age: The Erlitou Culture
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In Chinese archaeology today, discussions of the origins of civilizationand of the Bronze Age generally begin with Erlitou. Erlitou is a villagesouth of the Luo River in Yanshi County that resembles many othersin this part of North China. In archaeology, Erlitou is both a site, specifi cally a type site, and the name for an archaeological culture that existed...
Chapter 2Foundations of the Bronze Age: TheErligang Culture Ie. 1600-1 300 B.C.E.)
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IfErlitou witnessed the dawn ofthe Bronze Age in North China, then thefar more extensive Erligang Culture represents its broad foundations.The material evidence documented at sites of this archaeological cul ture (Map 5) underlies the civilization with which Chinese history prop erly begins, and also constitutes the baseline for developments outside...
3. The Shang Kings at Anyang
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Our discussions of the Erlitou and Erligang Cultures established thepedigree of the archaeological culture known from the large complexof sites near Anyang, in northern Henan province (Map 6). Work herebegan at about the same time the discovery of the Longshan type sitetook place. But whereas the Shandong excavations were limited to two...
4. Shang Cult: Divination and Sacrifice
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The development of oracle-bone studies has made our view of the LateShang (or Yinxu) period categorically different from all earlier eras.History begins at Anyang, and so too does the study of those ideas andpractices that characterized Shang society. The emphasis on cult in thischapter matches this evidence, both inscriptional and archaeological....
5. The Late Shang World
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In rediscovering the Shang kings and their civilization, archaeologistsand historians have created an "Anyang-centered" view ofthe late secondmillennium B.C.E. Contemporary cultures have generally been judgedagainst the archaeological record at Anyang. They are classified as moreor less advanced, even civilized, by the degree to which they manifest...
Afterword: The Invention of Chinese Civilization
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Throughout this book I have been at pains to qualify what I write. Myef forts are more than an abundance of scholarly caution or a nod to con temporary academic fashion. As a non-Chinese researcher writing aboutthe early Bronze Age, I am acutely aware that my assumptions are not thesame as those of my Chinese peers. By choice I have placed information...
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These recommendations highlight the work of scholars writing in En glish. Chinese-language scholarship is introduced through notes at theThe best overall treatment of the lead-up to state-level societies remainsKwang-chih Chang, The Archaeology ofAncient China, 4th ed. (New Haven,Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986), ch. 5, "The Chinese Interaction...
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I have been fascinated by the Shang since a day in 1971 when I firstwalked into a gallery at the National Palace Museum, Taibei, and therecame face-to-face with a marble owl excavated in the 1930s from theroyal tombs at Anyang (see Figure 3.18). Nearby, reverently displayed invelvet-lined boxes, were whole plastrons and scapulas with oracle-bone...
Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Encounters with Asia