SEAA

SEAA Society for East Asian Archaeology

First World Conference of EAANetwork,  10-11 April 1996,
Hilton Hawaii Village Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii
 
Abstracts of Papers presented

Arranged in alphabetic order according to authors' family names.

Francis ALLARD, "Introduction: centre and periphery: concepts and applications to East and Southeast Asia"
This paper briefly reviews how the core/periphery model has been applied by archaeologists, making the point that the varied and unsystematic application of the idea has reduced its usefulness as a basis for the comparison of separate cases. Rather than advocating the abandonment of the concept, however, it is suggested that it can be used as a heuristic device capable of directing productive research. Importantly, attention should be directed toward the investigation of the nature and impact of intersocietal interaction rather than the identification of core and peripheries from limited data. It is suggested that the concepts of 'dependence' on and 'benefits' of inter-societal interaction, although difficult to clearly identify in the archaeological record, can be useful in the investigation of interaction. In the case of East Asia, it is argued that we are provided at the outset with a ready-made core in the Yellow river valley, whose complexity and importance is supported by a wide range of evidence. However, this should not detract us from investigating the nature and impact of interaction. Neither should archaeologists attempt to 'rehabilitate' the periphery by simply indentifying these perpheries as innnovators of new cultural elements. Although a number of societies in East Asia are shown to have benefited, to varying degress, from interaction, there are as yet no instances of prestige good economies dependent on the acquisition of large numbers of non-utilitarian goods from afar.
 

Elizabeth CHILDS-JOHNSON, "Ritual to Insifnia: Jade vessel sets and the definition of the Jade Age"
Why can we speak of a Jade Age? In the Warring States text, Yue Jueshu (Lost Records of the Yue-Precious Swords), the author YUAN Kang makes reference to weapons from four different ages: the so-called Stone, Jade, Bronze and Iron Ages. Kwang Chih Chang, in recognizing the significance of this reference, coined the term "Jade Age" to encompass primarily the Liangzhu culture that produced the representative jade type-the prismatic cylinder known as cong (Orientations June 1989). Historically and archaeologically, it is evident that ancient China experienced a period when jade was the primary material exploited for artistic, religious and political purposes. On the basis of current archaeological evidence, the time frame for this period of jade exploitation is over 1000 years, from ca. 3500 to 2100 BCE. Culturally this period incorporates the Late Neolithic proto-historic cultures, currently identifiable as the Hongshan, Liangzhu and Shandong Longshan. Earlier cultures, such as Xinglongwa in far north China, Hemudu in south China and Dawenkou in northeast China used jade occasionally as small-scale decor in the form of huang, jue-earrings and beads, but not on a scale that predicates identifying these jades beyond a decorative purpose.
During the era of ca. 3500-2100 BCE, jade emerged as a material exploited for the purpose of signifying religious and political power in the form of primarily ritual tools, costume ornament and weapons, and later in the form of religo-political insignia. The evidence for the role of jade as a religio-political power symbol of the ruling elite is based on excavated contextual data and on burial remains. For example, from the earliest burials of Hongshan cultural date, jade types, including so-called pig-dragons, hooked cloud placques, horse-hoof cylinders and cat-headed falcons identify burials of elites. These latter burials, which were constructed according to a specialized design, and their jade finds are further associated with religious centers marked by large-scale, carefully designed stone-lined square and circular outdoor altars. The same specialized context and type of jades characterize the slightly later but overlapping culture called Liangzhu. There, not only do the elite burials contain specialized types of jades in the form of the ritualized yue-weapon, ritual tools cong and bi, and specialized costume ornaments such as the axially oriented set of four D-shaped crown pieces, but they are associated with a specialized cemetery, recently identified at Sidun, Jiangsu, by the large-scale cosmological design of square and circle (Zhongguo wenwubao 1995.12.31, p. 3), reminiscent of the later Western Zhou architectural monument called mingtang.
Finally, and least known archaeologically, is the alternative jade form marking the end of the Jade Age, the insignia based on tool and weapon types, including zhang, dao, yue, and gui, best known in the later historic Erlitou period (E. Childs-Johnson, Archives of Asian Art, 1995) but also represented amidst the slightly earlier and overlapping Longshan phase of the Late Neolithic in Shandong and elsewhere in north China. Although architectural foundations and elitist jade works of art are not well-known during this Longshan era, extant jade insignia can be used to document that this cultural stage for exploiting jade as the primary symbol of political and religious power.
(This paper and related ones by Professors MOU Yongkang [Zhejiang Institute of Archaeology] and WEN Guang [Beijing Institute of Geology] will be published by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County as Stones from Heaven: Ancient Chinese Jade Symposium Papers in the fall of 1996).
 

Magnus FISKESJÖ, "Agriculture on the periphery and the southern expansion of the Chinese empire"
How was South China incorporated into China? This complex problem is here explored from the perspective of agricultural transformations, emphasizing the use made by the Chinese state from Han times onwards of agricultural colonies and promotion of irrigated rice cultivation, to sustain and expand the taxation system of the state in order to colonize and assimilate the southern peripheries. It is suggested that the famous old distinction between "raw" and "cooked" Southern "barbarians" should be understood in terms of such an extended process, wherein the "raw" (often indigenous agriculturalists relying on various forms of swidden agriculture) are incorporated (i.e. "cooked") into the Chinese economy. Drawing on records and historical scholarship revealing the mechanics of enforced assimilation of "Miao" peoples of the south (Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan; mainly in the Qing period), inferences are made regarding the implications for archaeology both in terms of the late imperial period, and autochtonous state formation in the Bronze Age, and late prehistory. The paper forms a call for an archaeology of Southern agroecosystems, including the study of transformations of concomitant settlement patterning, animal use, plant remains, and tool complexes, etc., as related to the dynamic processes of sinicization/state formation.
 

Katheryn M. LINDUFF, "Strangers in their midst: 'others' at Anyang"

Early Chinese historians presented a selected picture of life, one which they thought, and probably believed, represented the most important and relevant elements of Chinese culture. They marginalized people and artistic traditions which did not fit their normative, historical model of Chinese culture. Recent archaeological recovery in China as well as intellectual debate on the construction of cultural identity and definition, however, encourage reconsideration of the cultural make-up of early China.
The traditional view of Chinese culture was and still is made vivid through the notion of contrast, or through 'us/them' constructs which defined who was Chinese and who was not. The intimacy of their association is reflected particularly in the most solemn of rituals, burials which include artifacts typical of 'others' mixed with traditional Chinese-style items. Excavated burial assemblages in 'Chinese' contexts dating from the Shang period, even at Anyang, are actually quite diverse, and the traditional normative view of culture cannot account for this variance. Evidence of the interaction between the Shang and 'other' cultures is apparent in these burials and provides an excellent setting in which to study this predicament. I will examine the notion of 'Shang' culture in relation to the role of 'others' in the late Shang by analyzing burials at Anyang and other northern, Shang site dates
 

Gideon SHELACH, "Periphery as an active player: the case of the upper Xiajiadian in northeast China"

During the first half of the first millennium BC, the polities of northwest China, known collectively as the Upper Xiajiadian cultures, were much less complex than the Chinese status of the Yellow River area. However, contrary to the commmonly held notion of periphery s a passive player-politically and culturally dominated by the Centre and economically exploited by it-the data suggests that in their relations with the centre, the Upper Xiajiadian polities were active and independent.
Statistical analysis performed on data from all the published excavations of Upper Xiajiadian graves suggests the existence of a conscious attempt at symbolically marking the status of grave owners. It reflects a stratified society in which a few paramount local leaders were buried in rich graves which contained, among other things, Chinese bronze vessels. It is argued that the acquisition and consumption of Chinese bronzes served to legitimize the powers asserted by the Upper Xiajiadian elite. It is therefore clear why the leaders of the Upper Xiajiadian polities were active initiators of contacts with the Chinese states to their south and were willing to invest considerable effort in maintaining their local monopoly over the use of Chinese bronzes.
 

Barbara STEPHEN, "Center or periphery: the evidence of a reconstructed Shang chariot"
During the last three months, production of a short video for the new Early China Galleries at the royal Ontario Museum offered an opportunity to reconstruct a Shang hunting chariot using the technique of computer animation. While the wheeled vehicles of Shang China are generally considered to be evidence of imported technology, they are sometimes presented as examples ofr local independent development. a more precise understanding of this design could therefore assist in understanding their origins. During the project, reference was made to archaeological records of the vehicles (including the later but very detailed evidence of two bronze models found near the Qin tomulus); to Shang pictographs; and to Western studies of chariot design and mechanics. We began work on the reconstruction by assembling the more solid components best known from excavations, then proceeded by adding more perishable components necessary for function, such as reins and backing elements, for which Shang evidence is lacking. The exercise led both to a resolution of some questions of design and to the definition of new ones for further study, demonstrating the value of the technique as a research tool.
The resulting 'virtual chariot' can be shown to have non-Chinese precedents for every major design component, from the multiple-spoked wheels to the bits with rigid cheek pieces attached to soft mouthpieces. The design of the yoke and its yoke saddles, with a distribution across the Eurasian range of vehicles of this type, remain among the most telling elements. While reasons for the appearance of this complex and colstly technolgy for nort-central China are still hypothetical, its value as a prestige ceremonial instrument for the Shang rulers clearly justified its adoption.
 

Miwa STEVENSON, "Images of self and society in the mural tombs of Koguryo "
Since the beginning of the 10th century, when the discipline of archaeology found its first partisans in the scholarly world of East Asia, some 60-odd muraled tombs have been excavated along the border between Korea and Manchuria, with large concentrations in the vicinity of the modern cities of Pyongyang and Ji'an. The identification of these two sites with Koguryo capitals dating from the 3rd through the 7th centuries has led to the general belief that the muraled tomb style developed in conjunction with the emergence of Koguryo royal power in this region. Bordering on the North Korean-Chinese frontier, the 'Koguryo' muraled tombs have attracted the attention of archaeologists and art historians of diverse ethnic and scholarly persuasions who are interested in the cultural history of early northeast Asia. Interpretation of the tomb murals and their historical significance has become a focal point for various ideological subtexts. While Korean scholars tend to regard these tombs as products of a purely indigenous 'Korean' tradition, Chinese, Japanese and Western scholars treat them as retardataire relics of Chinese funerary art of the Han period, preserved in this outlying region. By consistently subordinating them to a narrative of linear historical influence, they have neglected to consider their intention within their immediate social and cultural idiom.
This paper will address two main concerns. One is to review different approaches to interpretation of the muraled tombs and to offer a critical appraisal of the polemical tensions that have developed around their study as historical monuments. The second is to understand these tombs as monuments of self and ancestry, as formulated wir identify the given scenes as events in the official career and family life of the deceased. Thus, epitaph and mural constitute an intergrated program dedicated to the glorification of self and clan, especially as fabricated within the context of service to the regional court. The pictorial program found in the Anak and Tokhungri tombs is broadly representative of the other muraled tombs as well, indicating that, although originally informed by Chinese funerary motifs, the program was adapted as an effective visual language for articulating selfhood and status in the new social order of the emergent Koguryo state.
 

Constantine VAPORIS, "Digging for Edo: Archaeology and Japan's early-modern Past"
It is only since the mid-1970s that the archaeology of Japan's early modern (kinsei) period has become an accepted sub-discipline. Beginning with the economic bubble of the 1980s, large-scale redevelopment in Tokyo, particularly in the center of town, gave an opportunity to excavate the city's substrata in what were mostly salvage-type operations. While this economic redevelopment played an important role in the development of the archaeology of the early modern period, this phenomenon should also be seen as part of a growth in interest in the history of the period as a whole-the so-called "Edo buumu". This is a first attempt to sift through the growing body of literature on the subject. Using site reports, reports geared toward the general public, museum exhibition catalogues, monographs and periodic literature, I will try to assess some of the significance of the field for our knowledge of the urban history of Edo. In doing so, I will focus particularly on excavations of domainal residence compounds (daimyō yashiki), e.g. those at Tokyo University, Hakuō, Shiodome, Roppongi and Kioi-chō among others.
 

WANG Tao, "Su Bingqi and contemporary chinese archaeology"
Su Bingqi (b. 1909), now the elected president of the Chinese Association of Archaeology, is the doyen of contemporary Chinese archaeology. His theory of regional divisions in the development of Chinese civilization has influenced and indeed shaped current archaeology in China. In his theory, first introduced in 1975, Su divides the archaeological development of early Chinese civilization into six geographic regions: (1) the northern region centred on the Great Wall; (2) the central plain which adjoins Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan; (3) the middle range of the Yangtze River, centred on Lake Dongting and its surrounding areas; (4) the lower range of the Yellow River, centred on Shandong and its neighbouring areas; (5) the lower range of the Ynagtze River, centred on the Lake Taihu area; and (6) the southern region region which takes Lake Boyang and the Pearl River delta as its axis. Within each of these major divisions are many sub-types. Su's theory argues that each region has its own cultural development and that interaction among them is constant. This theory differs from the traditional view, long held in the profession, that Chinese civilization originated in the middle Yellow River valley, then diffused to other regions. Su argues that there are different stages and multi-layers in the formation of Chinese civilization. His theory has been verified by recent archaeological discoveries and inevitably forces archaeologists to reconsider their traditional framework and methodology. Su's thought marks, many scholars in China believe, the establishment of an independent school of Chinese archaeology. A critical examination of this from a historical and comparative perspective would broaden our understanding of archaeology as an academic discipline in contemporary China.
 

 

ImprintSitemapPrintbackTopFaQContact