Submit a Manuscript to the Journal, World Archaeology, by Dec 12 for a Special Issue on:

A century of Chinese archaeology: reflections and prospects

In 2021, China celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of modern Chinese archaeology. Archaeological explorations had been underway in the late 19th-century, but the accepted marker for modern archaeological enquiry in China is the discovery of the Yangshao culture in 1921 representing some 2000 years of Neolithic activity along the Yellow River. Since then, modern archaeological excavation and research has seen exponential growth and development in China. Chinese archaeologists have developed exceptional expertise and then country has come to prioritise archaeological enquiry and the protection and presentation of archaeological and cultural heritage as an enterprise central to its identity.

The Chinese archaeological and heritage record is remarkable, rich and unique and of course matched by an exceptional historical and art historical record with a long reach. While for the western European and North American public, discoveries are frequently characterised by the Terracotta Army in Xi’an or the exquisite jade carvings of the Hongshan and Liangzhu cultures and beyond, the rapid urban development in China has resulted in numerous exciting discoveries, many of which remain largely unknown to the Western audience.  Historical archaeology is also now well-established. In addition to the traditional focus on the excavation and research of historic urban centres and imperial mausoleums, the explorations of ceramic production and exports also demonstrates long-distance connections to Europe in the High Middle Ages and widespread connection and consumption of Celadon goods via Indian Ocean Trade in the 11th to 16th centuries. Diverse patterns of such long-distance trade and exchange that involved many other objects, ideas and knowledge have also started to emerge under increasing international archaeological collaboration.

World Archaeology, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of modern Chinese archaeology, is dedicating this issue to papers that reflect on all aspects of archaeology and heritage in China. Papers that offer contextual breadth and highlight and reflect on the impact of major discoveries or methodological advances are welcome. To complement this, we seek submissions that emphasise collaboration past and present, the sharing of ideas between people and cultures East, West, North and South, and how this has enabled knowledge and methods to develop in China and worldwide. Reflective papers are invited on shared concerns for protecting and caring for our collectively owned global heritage and those that explore evidence and understanding of ethnic difference and connectivity in the past and its influence on heritage in the present and how we protect and mobilise those narratives to enable shared good practice and combat imbalances in curation, heritage protection and presentation. Contributions on the modern challenges, including climate change, long term health trajectories, community and heritage education and protection against urban and industrial expansion are also welcome. Contributions from Chinese early career researchers are especially welcome.

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