China Night Lectures

Past Events

· Jianchuan Museum Complex: Memory, Power and Morality in Chinese Private Heritage Entrepreneurship

 Zhang Lisheng (UCL Institute of Archaeology) Thursday 30 November 2017

· The Xirong People: An intermediary between China and the Eurasian Steppe in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty

 Dr. ZHANG Yin (Shaanxi Normal University, China) Thursday 2 November 2017

· Rethinking the Origins of True Porcelain in China

Prof YANG Zhefeng (Peking University, China) Monday 30 October 2017

· Brilliant Uncovered: Excavation and Conservation of Empress Xiao’s Crown, Sui Dynasty (7th C CE)

Professor YANG Junchang (Northwest Polytechnic University, China) Thursday 8 June 2017

· Historical perspectives on Extinction: Using long-term Archives to Inform Conservation in China

Dr Samuel Turvey (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London) Wednesday 10 May 2017

· Ceramics on the Maritime Silk Roads: China Wares Used in the Trade and Diplomacy of Early Ming Dynasty

Dr LI Baoping Thursday, 23/03/2017

· 30 March 2017 International Conference LOOMS OF LIFE – weaving and knowledge production in ancient China

· Capturing Changes: Using the Oxford System to further Understand the Movement of Metal in Shang China (16th Century BC – 1046 BC)

Ruiliang Liu (Oxford) Thursday, 02/03/2017

· Excavation and Archaeological Research of the Baligang Site, Henan Province, China

Professor ZHANG Chi (Peking University) Friday, 10/02/2017

· Questions Surrounding Early Millet Agriculture in China

Dr Chris Stevens (UCL Institute of Archaeology)Thursday 15 December,2016

· Barnyard-millet Farming Zone in Northeast Asia -- Archaeobotanical Evidence from North-eastern China

Prof ZHAO Zhijun (Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) Thursday 17 November 2016

· Special Guest Lecture: Buddhism Archaeology in China: a New Perspective on Yunkang Grottoes

Prof HANG Kan (School for Archaeology and Museology, Peking University) Thursday 3 November 2016

· Wet, Dry, White or Sticky? Dispersal and Diversification of Rice in China

Prof Dorian Fuller (UCL Institute of Archaeology) Thursday 13 October 2016

  • 16 May 2016

    Building the Terracotta Army: Ceramic Craft Technology and Organisation of Production at Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Complex, China

    Speaker: Patrick Quinn (IoA, UCL)

  • 17 March 2016

Pottery Use in East Asian Early Holocene: Reconstructed from Organic Residue Analysis

Speaker: Shinya Shoda (BioArCh, University of York)

  • 11 February 2016

Ming Dynasty Paper Money under the Microscope

Speakers: Caroline Cartwright (British Museum), Christina Duffy (British Library) and Helen Wang (British Museum)

  • 21 January 2016

Why Jomon People Did Not Select Agricultural Society? Different Pathways to the Agricultural Society in China and Japan

Speaker: Hiroo Nasu (the Graduate University for Advanced Studies, Japan) 

Read abstract

ICCHA PKU Lecture Series: The Beginning and Development of Agriculture in the Old World: a Global Prospective

by Prof Dorian Fuller, UK executive director of ICCHA 

10-17 December 2015

School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, China  

Preserving the Maritime Silk Road in Quanzhou



    17 December 2015

Rock-cut Caves in the Upper Yangzi River: Identifying a Stone Working Tradition (2nd to 3rd century CE)

by LIA WEI (SOAS)    19 November 2015

  • by LIA WEI (SOAS)

    19 November 2015

Recognition of Cattle Traction and its Role in Building the Early Civilisations in North China

by MINGHAO LIN (University of Cambridge)    15 October 2015

  • by MINGHAO LIN (University of Cambridge)

    15 October 2015

Symposium: Early Rice Cultivation Systems and their Impact on Social Evolution and the Environment15-17 September 2015. Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology 

Symposium: Early Rice Cultivation Systems and their Impact on Social Evolution and the Environment

15-17 September 2015. Room 612, UCL Institute of Archaeology 

Leverhulme Lunchtime Lectures on Ancient Chinese Starch

  • Dr. YANG Xiaoyan, Visiting Leverhulme Professor from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  More information
  1. 25 June 2015, 12:30 pm
  2. 2 July 2015, 12:30 pm
  • June 4 Thursday 2015

Yiru WANG (University of Cambridge)

Origins of sheep and goats domestication in western China

Abstract: The origins of Chinese domestic sheep and goats have long been an issue that needs to be clarified. Since abundant caprine remains do not appear in China until 4,000 B.P., and the earliest domestic sheep/goat in the world was from West Asia at around 10,000 B.P., it was assumed that sheep and goats were not originally domesticated in China, but came from the west as domestic animals. However, current zooarchaeological research in China has a basic problem in taxa identification. Several closely related Caprinae and gazelle species in western China cannot be correctly separated. This project carries out a detailed and systematic osteomorphology and osteomety study of the Caprinae and gazelle in western China and different Ovis species on Eurasia by examining the modern specimens. A system of diagnostic criteria of the different Capraine and gazelle was established, with their osteomorphology found to be related with the different ecological habitats. In addition, the cline of osteomorphology between the Ovis from the different parts of Eurasia is found to be related with their geographical distributions, and some of the skeletal elements could reflect the animals’ adaptions in running ability which diverge under domestication. These criteria are applied to the archaeological specimens from five sites in western China from 10,000 to 3,500 BP to trace the domestication and migration process of sheep and goats. Together with traditional zooarchaeological methods, it was found that the origins of sheep and goats domestication in western China may represent a complex continuum of interactions between the different animals and humans in the unique ecological and social context.

  • March 19 Thursday 2015

Mr SHAO Anding (Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology, visiting scholar of Needham Research Institute, Cambridge)

The making of the Colour Painted Bronze Waterfowl discovered from the Mausoleum of First Qin Emperor

  • January 22 Thursday 2015

Dr YANG Xiaoyan (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Leverhulme Trust visiting professor)

How the study of ancient starches is changing our understanding of Neolithic subsistence patterns in China

  • December 11 Thursday 2014

Dr Edward Denison (UCL Bartlett)

Architecture and Modernity in China up to 1949

  • November 20 Thursday 2014

Dr MA Saiping (Fudan University)

Bronze Lamps and fuel in the Han Period: A Case Study of Artefacts Unearthed from Mausoleum DaYun Hill, Jiangsu Province, China

  • October 22 Wednesday 2014

ICCHA Public Lecture marking 10 Year Anniversary (poster)

Prof. Dame Jessica Rawson (University of Oxford)

Gold and Iron: China’s relations with the Steppe in the First Millennium BC

  • March 20, 2014

Gold and Silver Production in the Imperial Period of China: Technological Choices of Ancient Smelters in Specific Social-economic and Environmental Settings

by LIU Siran, UCL

  • February 24, 2014 ICCHA Special Guest Lecture
Xu's talk

The Shigushan Site: Recent Discoveries at the Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Cemetery and Its Significance

by Professor XU Tianjin, Peking University

  • February 20, 2014 

Regional Studies of Prehistoric Agriculture: Comparisons between the Middle and Lower Han River Basin

by DENG Zhenhua, Peking University

January 16, 2014 
Animal procurement in the Middle Neolithic of the Yangtze River Basin: Integrating the fish remains into a case-study from Tianluoshan

by Miss ZHANG Ying, UCL

December 12, 2013

Urbanisation and Cultural Heritage Management: impact and challenge in China

by Dr ZHANG Bo, Northwest University China

Date: November 21, 2013

A Celebration of 20 Years: the Story of the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath

By Dr Nicole Chiang, Curator of the Museum of East Asian Art

The Museum of East Asian Art in Bath is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to the arts and cultures of East Asia and contains the largest collection of Asian art outside London.  Opened to the public in 1993, the museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.  This talk introduces the museum’s history and collection as well as the challenges it faces as a specialised museum of East Asian art located within a UNESCO World Heritage site which is famously known for its Roman Bath and Georgian architectures.  Dr Nicole Chiang is the curator of the Museum of East Asian Art in Bath.  Before joining the museum, she had worked at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum.  Nicole obtained her MA degree from the Courtauld Institute of Art and her PhD degree from SOAS.  Her PhD thesis explores the concept of collecting at the Qing imperial household during the Qianlong reign.

Date: October 24, 2013

Remote Periphery or Centre of Communication? Technology and Cultural Implication of the Shang Period Bronzes from the Hanzhong Basin

By Dr CHEN Kunlong, University of Science and Technology Beijing

With continuous significant discoveries from the so called “peripheral areas” outside the Central Plain, the regional features of Shang period metallurgy became an outstanding hot topic of Chinese archaeology. On the basis of scientific analysis of bronze objects this talk explores the metallurgical characters of Hanzhong Basin, one of the aforementioned “peripheral areas”. It is revealed that the most remarkable aspect of Hanzhong bronzes is their diversity in both aspects of typology and technology. The co-existence of objects of different origins reflects the important role of Hanzhong Basin among the cultural interaction between different contemporary bronze cultures. 

Dr Kunlong CHEN is lecturer at the Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials, University of Science and Technology Beijing (IHMM, USTB) and currently the Li Foundation Fellow at the Needham Research Institute (NRI) in Cambridge. His research is focused on the understanding of metallurgical technologies of Bronze Age China by the means of scientific analysis of metal objects, raw materials and technical wastes. Current projects include works on the Shang Period bronze objects and production remains in central Shaanxi. 

Date: May 9, 2013

Evolving Rice Cultivation Systems: Early Results from the Lower Yangtze

Speaker: Dr Alison Weisskopf (UCL)

The Early Rice Project, at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, is clarifying the origins of Asian rice agriculture. Rice can be cultivated in a range of arable systems, including upland rain fed, lowland irrigated and deep water. This project aims to reconstruct early rice cultivation systems, and to better establish how ancient arable rice systems be seen using archaeobotanical data. One method is by building modern analogues using associated crop weeds, and phytolith morphotypes found within each type of cultivation regime. Different cultivation systems produce different flora assemblages. Rice weeds and sediment samples have been recorded and collected from a variety of arable systems in India, China, Thailand and Laos to produce modern analogues. These have been used to analyse archaeological samples. Investigations of archaeological phytoliths from the Lower Yangtze region of China are revealing how the cultivation of rice changed over time, with early cultivation in small, irregular, dug-out paddy fields in the Lower Yangtze from c.4000 BC, providing a means for the careful control of water conditions.

Dr Alison Weisskopt is an archaeobotanist based at Institute of Archaeology, University College London, specializing in phytolith analysis. She mostly works in Asia but has also worked in Central Eurasia, Europe and Britain. She is currently finishing work on Prof Dorian Fuller's Early Rice Project and also looking into whether diatoms can reflect agricultural systems. In May she'll start another project with Prof Fuller on the expansion of early rice agriculture into South East Asia and beyond.

Date: Mar 14, 2013 6:10PM

Long-range Cultural Transmission before the Early Ming: the Information Paradox and Ways to Handle it

Speaker: Dr. Clarence Eng (SOAS)

Some aspects of Cultural Transmission and Diffusion are capable in a number of disciplines ranging from archaeology to sociology and linguistics of being methodically studied by statistical sampling, with results converted to chronological histories and even predictive algorithms. However, in subjects such as architectural history and the decorative arts the material evidence is found in the random and often accidental survival of a vanishingly small number of objects; sometimes single examples. These objects may have distant links to structures or artefacts in other places and civilizations but, without compelling stylistic matches, the evidence for transmission is weak. The examples are either too few to classify or to offer meaningful statistical significance.  The evidence is largely visual and may intersect other material cultures. Some examples are also far from durable. At present, potential linkages are often found empirically, or through similarities (by chance) being noticed by individuals working in different fields. This process is far from methodical. However, the volume of information in which matches may be found is already large and growing fast, even whilst modern destructive forces (some accidental, many deliberate) are equally rapidly reducing the stock of unstudied material.  Identifying potential matches is a process ideally served by digital technology but the data (images and documents) needs to be systematically stored and annotated (‘tagged’) to wait for matches. The processing power and massive data storage needed for such a project are now available at costs which are already reasonable and declining fast.  An open-access system with an institution-based ‘gatekeeper’ might be a practical way forward.

Dr Clarence Eng read Natural Sciences and Law at Cambridge University before working for over 30 years with Shell International, with whom he held senior posts in Europe, China and the Far East. Since retirement from Shell he has pursued various interests, some academic, completing an MSc in Architectural History at the Bartlett School of Architecture in UCL, and then at SOAS an MA in Chinese Studies and a PhD in Art and Archaeology, for which his thesis considered 'The Use of Ceramic in Chinese Late Imperial Architecture'. He was formerly a Council Member of the Oriental Ceramic Society, and served for five years on the Board of the Heritage of London Trust. He remains a research associate at SOAS.

The Emperor’s Silver: Achaemenid Designs on Early Chinese Silverware

Date: Feb 21, 2013 5:30 PM

Dr Lukas Nickel (Reader in Chinese Art History and Archaeology, Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, SOAS) presents his new research on “The Emperor’s Silver: Achaemenid Designs on Early Chinese Silverware”. In Ancient China, silver played a less important role than in most other premodern societies. The preferred metal for the production of vessels and ornaments was bronze. Only from the 3rd century BC onwards, silver became more widely used. Among early silver vessels, some were fashioned following traditional Chinese shapes, while others reflected Western Asian shapes and decoration. This talk will investigate silver vessels recovered from Chinese tombs of the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC that follow achaemenid prototypes and discuss what the objects reveal about cross-Asian contacts during the formation process of China’s first empire.


Date: Dec 13, 2012 5:30:00 PM

In Search of Ancient Cultivated Soils in North and South China

Zhuang Yijie (Merton College, Oxford) will give the fifth International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) China Night Lecture of 2012/13 at the Institute on 13 December.


Date: Nov 8, 2012 5:30:00 PM

Turning Anyang Yinxu into a World Heritage site

Shu-Li Wang (UCL Anthropology) will give the fourth International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) China Night Lecture of 2012/13 at the Institute on 8 November. Room 209


Date: Oct 25, 2012 5:30:00 PM

Ashes to beauty - the earliest lime-rich glaze in China and its modern replication

Min Yin will give the third International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA) China Night Lecture of 2012/13 at the Institute on 25 October.

Venue: Room 209, Institute of Archaeology


Date: 5:30pm Thursday 11 October 2012

Venue: 410, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Professor GUO Dashun (former director of Laioning Provincial Institute of Archaeology)


Niuheliang Site and Hongshan culture

5:30pm Thursday Sept 27 (Rising Scholar Seminar Series)

Speaker: Dr. ZHOU Wenli (UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Topic: Distilling Zinc in China: The technology of Large- Scale Zonc production ion Chongqing during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (AD 1368-1911)

[abstract/ poster as PDF]


Date: 5:30pm Thursday 10 May 2012

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: James Lin (Senior Assistant Keeper, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)


Royal Tomb Treasures of Han China


The Han period (206 BC-AD220) is noted for the lavishness of its burials. However, Chinese texts hardly mention how the imperial household prepared for the funeral of the emperor or imperial family members. Judging from the large scale of the tomb structures and the rich funeral objects in a diverse range of materials, the construction of Han imperial tombs and the preparation of burial items were under strict and complicated supervision. The emperors’ tombs in Xi’an cannot be opened for conservation reasons, so we do not know what they look like. However, judging from the imperial members’ tombs that have been excavated in eastern China, we can assume that an emperor’s tomb would have been similar to those of the kings in eastern China, but larger in scale.  This talk aims to reconstruct the Han imperial funeral process by putting all of the pieces of the jigsaw together from the surviving texts and the archaeological evidence. This talk will also discuss the idea of organising this exhibition and how the galleries are arranged.


James C. S. Lin is the Senior Assistant Keeper of Applied Art at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, with responsibility for the Asian art collection.  James obtained his Ph.D. in Chinese Art History at the University of Oxford.  He worked as a Research Assistant at the Ashmolean Museum between 2000 - 2002.  He was employed as a Special Assistant at the British Museum, helping to set up the Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery of Chinese Jade in 2002.  Afterwards he returned to Oxford as the first Christensen Fellow in Chinese Painting, at the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Chinese painting gallery at the Ashmolean Museum.  In September 2004 he was appointed as the Assistant Keeper of Applied Arts at the Fitzwilliam Museum.


Past Events (2012)



Date: 5:30pm Thursday 08 March 2012

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Charlotte Horlyck (Lecturer, Department of the History of Art, SOAS)


The spread and use of Chinese bronze mirrors in early Korean society


Around the first century BC the Han Chinese established four commanderies on the Korean peninsula. Lelang, the largest and longest-lasting, eventually fell into the hands of Koguryǒ in AD 313. The impact of the commanderies on the conquered Korean areas as well as on those states which were adjacent to them was considerable. The relations were on the one hand marred by conflict and on the other by cultural borrowing. Archaeological findings suggest that Han mirrors featured strongly in the early contacts between China and Korea and that the increasingly domineering presence of the Chinese on the Korean peninsula had a significant impact on local mirror use and manufacture. By the late Iron Age, mirrors with indigenous Korean motifs ceased to be cast, and until around the seventh century AD, the only mirrors that were circulated on the peninsula were those made in China and their Korean imitations. In this paper I will explore the changes that occurred in mirror production and use, by focusing on the distribution and local production of Han-style mirrors.


Dr. Charlotte Horlyck is a Lecturer in Korean Art History on the Department of

the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London. Her research

interests include arts of the Koryŏ period (AD918-1392), in particular bronze artefacts and ceramics, medieval Korean funerary material, and theoretical issues relating to the study of material culture. She has published widely on Korean art and archaeology, and is presently working on an edited volume on death, mourning and the afterlife in Korea.


Date: 5:30pm Thu 12 January 2012

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Dr. HAN Xiang (Associate Professor at the Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China)

Topic: When Ostrich (and Ostrich Eggs) Came to China: Cultural Exchanges along the Silk Road from Han to Tang (2nd Century BC –9th Century AD)


Ostriches are mainly found in Africa and West Asia, but they were introduced to China during the Han and Tang Dynasties. Their arrival exerted great influence on Chinese cultural life, especially on art and literature. In this talk, I will discuss the first appearance of the ostrich and its popularity in the West Asia and beyond. I will then use both archaeological and textual evidence from the Near East and China to explain when and how the ostrich and its eggs were brought to China, and influenced Chinese cultural life. I will also try to analyse individual examples unearthed in the Western Regions.

Dr HAN Xiang is associate professor at the Shaanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China. She received her PHD degree in Specialized History in 1999 from the Northwest University of China. Her research interest is mainly on cultural history of the ancient ethnic groups in northwest of China. Her current research focuses on the Silk Road and the history of culture exchanges between China and the West. Her book entitled The Relations between Chang An of Sui and Tang Dynasties and Central Asia was published by the Social Sciences Academic Press (Beijing, 2006). She is currently a visiting scholar at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

Past Events (2011)


Date: 5:30pm Thu 08 December 2011

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Ms Song, Jixiang (PhD candidate, Institute of Archaeology, UCL)

Topic: A regional case in the development of agriculture and crop-processing in northern China from the Neolithic to Bronze Age: archaeobotanic evidence from the Sushui River survey, Shanxi Province


Each of today's major food species is distributed worldwide. While much of that food globalisation has resulted from modern trade networks, it has its roots in prehistory. By the end of the second millennium BC, the south west Asian crops, wheat and barley, were in several parts of China, and Chinese millets and buckwheat were in Europe. There was a parallel exchange of crops between South Asia and Africa. Several thousands years prior to this, broomcorn millet (Panicum milliaceum), domesticated in North China, were in both sides of Eurasia. This research looks into features that relate both to the crop plants themselves and to the societies that utilised them. I intend to understand the process of Neolithic in China by employing macrofossil and stable isotopes analysis.


Dr Liu, Xinyi is the Research Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. His research interest lies in understanding agriculture in Prehistory, including three aspects: the beginning of farming practices in northern Eurasia, in particular, early cultivation of Panicum miliaceum and Setaria italica; the nature of the Neolithic in relation to food production and consumption; and the cross-continental movements of starchy crops in the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. These questions have led me to undertake fieldwork in Central Asia and the Mongolian Plateau.

After recently completed PhD at Cambridge, his current research uses macrofossil and stable isotope analyses to reconstruct human subsistence at late Neolithic and early Bronze Age sites in Central Asia. This is part of a 5 years ERC funded project, based at the McDonald Institute, which investigates the long-distance spread of agriculture in the third and second millennium BC. Fieldwork will be conducted mainly in Kazakhstan and West China.



Date: 5:30pm Thu 10 November 2011

Venue: 410, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Dr Liu, Xinyi (Research Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University)

Topic: Food globalisation in prehistory: new approaches to Chinese prehistory


This study presents the result of a regional archaeobotanical survey in the Sushui River valley, Shanxi, China. This provides evidence for changes over time for a region in the proportions of crops, especially rice versus millets, and the use of wild plants. In addition composition of samples, both grouped by period and considered on a sample by sample basis, are considered as representative of routine crop processing waste, from which it is suggested that typical patterns of routine crop-processing (after storage) can be inferred. It seems there is a shift from the Yangshao uniformity to the Longshan diversity which might indicate differences in crop processing activities prior to storage and aspects of the social organization of agricultural production. Finally weed ecological analysis demonstrates that agriculture was already based on permanent fields from the Yangshao period. Other aspects of agriculture were also inferred through weed ecological analysis such as changes in soil fertility from Longshan to Bronze Age..


Jixiang Song is a PhD student at the Institute of Archaeology (UCL). She received her BA in archaeology in Shandong University and MA in archaeobotany at the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Her research interest is archaeobotany, origin and spread of agriculture and plant domestication. Her current study is focused on examining the agricultural production, agricultural organization, and changes in agriculture from late Neolithic to the Bronze Age in northern China.


20110609 Campbell

Date: 5pm Thu 09 Jun 2011

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Dr. Rod Campbell (Oxford University)

Topic: Consumption, Exchange and Production at the Great Settlement Shang: Preliminary Work on Tiesanlu, Anyang


Far from a neutral periodisation, the “Bronze Age” has been tied to teleological universalist historiographies nearly from its inception. The concept of the “Bronze Age” has wielded an especially pernicious influence in Chinese archaeology. I will argue that just as archaeology’s diffusionist paradigm was replaced by an evolutionary paradigm, it is now needs to undergo a historical turn. I will argue for this necessity by showing 1) how evolutionary assumptions have obscured radical change in 2nd millennium BCE China; 2) using my own research on an Anyang bone-working site, how the peculiarities and precociousness of ancient China have been obscured; 3) how Chinese prehistory cannot be understood apart from its wider Eurasian context.


Dr Rod Campbell is currently the Peter Moores Research Fellow of the Oxford University, and will begin his new post this August as assistant professor of Chinese archaeology and history at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. He was awarded PhD at Harvard University in 2007, with dual degree in Anthropology (Archaeology) and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (History). Dr Campbell published articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from oracle-bone syntax to political complex in Shang China. He is the editor of <<Violence and Civilization>> (Joukowsky Institute Publications Series and Oxbow), due out this year. The current field project is on a massive bone working site assemblage in Anyang, the first report has just been accepted to Antiquity.



Date: 5pm Thu 12 May 2011

Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL

Speaker: Sascha Priewe (British Museum and Oxford University)

Topic: Interactions and religious practices at the late Neolithic site of Shijiahe, Hubei, about 3000-2000 BC


The well-known Neolithic site of Shijiahe, Tianmen, Hubei, has attracted much attention since it was discovered that it was enclosed by a bank and a ditch dating to the 3rd millennium BC constituting one of the largest enclosures along the Yangzi River. The site has since been considered the product of a highly evolved society and generally studied with socio-political organisation in mind. In this paper, I will focus on the significance of long-distance exchanges and interactions within the Middle Yangzi region and beyond, with people in central and eastern China and how these re-shape our understanding of the site. A special emphasis will be placed on religious practices that are particularly espoused by the external connections.


Curator for Ancient China and Coordinating curator of the Korean collections at the British Museum (since 2009)

DPhil student under Jessica Rawson at Oxford University on the late Neolithic of the Middle Yangzi River (Hubei and Hunan) (since 2007)

Previously lecturer in the Arts of China at Christie’s Education (2008-2009)

Previously Contributing Curator to the exhibition Treasures from Shanghai: Ancient Chinese Bronzes and Jades, at the BM in 2009

MA from SOAS in Chinese art and archaeology (2007)

Previously diplomat for Germany in Beijing (until 2005)


20110310 Wood title

Date: 6pm Thursday 10th March 2011
Venue: 612, Institute of Archaeology, UCL
Speaker: Prof. Nigel Wood (Westminster and Oxford)
Topic: Chinese ceramics: the environmental approach.


The lecture will examine the origins of the main raw materials used in Chinese ceramic history (rocks, clay and wood-ashes), and the extent to which these particular raw materials have determined the great wealth of ceramics that China has produced. These range from the terra-cotta warriors (3rd C BC) to China’s finest porcelains. At the heart of this subject is a great geological divide of tectonic origins that effectively separates the ceramics of north China from those of the south.

The lecture will deal with such major Chinese innovations as glazed stoneware (c. 1600 BC), white translucent porcelain (late 6th- early 7th C AD), and the magnificent monochrome-glazed stonewares from China’s Song dynasties (AD 980-1279). The environmental impact of ceramics production in China, will also be considered,


For some thirty years Prof. Wood’s prime research interests have been in the technology and history of East Asian ceramics, glass, and cast-bronze, with particular reference to the ceramics of China and Korea. An important aspect of his recent work has been relating the geological history of East Asia to its ceramic and bronze production. Over the last four years these studies have extended to the Middle East, particularly to the 9th C AD glazed earthenwares of Iraq. One major recent project has been the research for, and the writing of, Joseph Needham : Science and Civilisation in China  Volume 5 part 12 Ceramic Technology for the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge (in collaboration with Ms Rose Kerr). His present research involves the analysis and interpretation of shards from the huge archaeological site in central Iraq at Samarra. Another current project concerns the medieval Chinese ceramics known as Guan ware and Ding ware.


20110210 Chien

Date: 5pm Thursday 10th February 2011
Speaker: Dr. Li-Kuei Chien (Cambridge)
Topic: Gateways to paradise: twin towers in early Chinese art.


This talk introduces the military, political, social and religious functions of twin towers, que, from early to medieval China. From before the seventh century BC, Chinese people had erected towers in front of city gates as lookouts to guard their cities against sudden attacks. This military use gradually came to be associated with political and bureaucratic operations and played a role in people’s social lives. Because of these particular functions and the architectural character of towers as entrance markers, their images were adopted for use in funerary spaces to mark the prominent status of the tomb occupants and to represent gateways to a heavenly space. After Buddhism entered China, this visual element also appeared in cave-temples. This talk will explore this development and how various layers
of meaning gathered around this visual and spatial form.


Dr. Li-kuei Chien is currently the Postdoctoral Research and Teaching Fellow in Chinese Buddhism at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Cambridge. She received her Ph.D. on early Chinese Buddhist Art from the Dept. of Art and Archaeology, SOAS, University of London (2009). Her PhD thesis examined the contemplative bodhisattva image, a widespread Buddhist icon in fifth and sixth-century Northern China. Her work combines traditional iconographic analyses with close study of the language of dedicatory inscriptions and scriptures. This methodology has provided fresh insights into the formation of early Chinese Buddhist beliefs and practices that could not have been obtained using either visual or textual sources alone, shedding new light on the ways in which early Chinese Buddhists created and named a deity through production of its images.


20110113 Barnes

Date: 5pm Thursday 13th January 2011
Speaker: Prof. Gina Barnes (SOAS)
Topic: Chinese mythology as rulership ideology in the 3rd century Japan: the case of Queen Mother of the West.


Scholars have felt that there was some input from Daoism in the ruling ideology of the Early Kofun period, but they have never defined specifically what that may have consisted of. I have developed a hypothesis — based on multiple lines of evidence in grave goods, historical context, Chinese iconography, and political structure — that the Chinese myths about Queen Mother of the West were transmitted to Japan in the late 2nd century AD and formed the basis for female ruling power in the 3rd century. A common reaction of China scholars is surprise that the Queen Mother of the West made it to Japan. Did she? You will be the judge…


Prof. Gina Barnes is currently a Professorial Research Associate at SOAS. She had her Ph.D. on Japanese state formation for the University of Michigan (1983), and spent her working life in England. She taught East Asian archaeology as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge (1981-85). She worked briefly at the University of Leiden (1986), where she expanded her interests in Korean state formation, then returned to St. John's College, Cambridge, as a Senior Researcher (1987-95). In 1996, she took up the post of Professor of Japanese Studies at Durham University, from which she has recently retired as Emeritus Professor. Prof. Barnes is currently writing on landscape and civilization in Japan. ***

Past Events (2010)

Date: 5pm Thursday 16th December 2010
Speaker: Professor Stephan FEUCHTWANG (London School of Economics)
Topic: Heritage versus Civilization in China - a Grassroots Perspective


A civilisation is, for those who practice it, a universe and a world system. It is not one among other cultures nor is it an identity. Civilisational practices are for achieving a desired status as a person. In the concept of civilisation that I will be using, a civilisation is a geographical spread of similar but varied practices (of ritual, of making things, of building, of maintaining an ancestral line, etc) and several centres to which they refer as centres of the perfection of those practices, including centres that are formed out of the mixture and emergence from mixture of civilisations that refer to other centres, but still are not named identities. On the contrary, heritage is the conservation and preservation of patrimonies of a past for a named identity and at the same time for humanity. It is a key element of what we can describe as modern civilisation and its self-conscious collectivities, nationalities, ethnicities, cultures, and ‘civilisation’ now in another sense as one that is identified (Asian, etc). After elaborating what I understand to be practices of self-cultivation, by ordinary people and not just by the elites that set themselves off from commoners, in Chinese civilisational hierarchies, and how different these practices are from their preservation as heritage, I shall present a number of case studies in contemporary China that illustrate the divergence and co-existence of the two kinds of practice, civilisational and heritage, and open the question of their compatibility.


Stephan Feuchtwang is a professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics where he directs the MSc programme on China in Comparative Perspective. His book publications include Popular Religion in China: the Imperial Metaphor (2000), (with Wang Mingming) Grassroots Charisma, four local leaders in China and Taiwan (2001), (as editor and contributor) Making Place: state projects globalisation and local responses in China (2004), and After the Event; the transmission of grievous loss after state violence in Germany, China and Taiwan (2011)..



Date: 5pm Thursday 11th November 2010
Speaker: Rui WEN (Oxford University)
Topic: The Blue Pigment Applied on Chinese Blue-and-white Porcelain and Islamic Ceramics


There are two major ceramic systems in last millennium in this world. The one is Chinese ceramics and the other is Islamic ceramics. Basically, the two ceramic systems derived and developed independently, however, they are not always parallel lines; the interaction is universally and obviously. Blue decoration is one of the connecting knots. Chinese Tang Dynasty (618-907) and Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) are considerably open for foreign cultures. It is the soil for origin of blue-and-white porcelain because the aesthetics of Chinese porcelain was influenced by jade culture which appreciates for monochrome ceramics. The blue pigment and relative technology for application in the blue-and-white porcelain industry was assumed spread from Islamic world in the early stage. The Persian potter Abu’l Qasim described a kind of blue pigment for ceramic industry called sulaimani in his Treatise on Ceramics in 1301. The several Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) literatures recorded a special blue pigment named su-ma-li blue. Do they have close relationship? Does the Islamic technology for blue pigment influence Chinese ceramic production? The presentation will discuss these questions through comparing Chinese and Islamic ceramic tradition and analyzing their chemical composition.



Date: 5pm Thursday 11th October 2010
Speaker: Dr. Quanyu WANG (British Museum)
Topic: Technical Studies of Chinese Bronze Vessels in the BM Collection


In the British Museum collection there are hundreds of Chinese bronze vessels dating to the Shang and Zhou periods. The technical study of some of these bronze vessels was prompted by the BBC Radio 4 / British Museum programme The History of the World in 100 Objects which included one bronze vessel and one bronze bell. These ritual vessels, including gui and jue, were examined using microscopy, ultraviolet (UV) imaging, X-ray radiography, and X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF), and X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD). The condition of the objects including modern restoration and contemporary repairs were identified and the casting techniques including the alloy composition, mould-making, attachment of handles etc. were investigated. The results of the investigation will be presented.


Date: 5pm 10 June 2010
Speaker: Prof. Xiao, Xiao Yong (Director of Archaeology Department of Central University for Nationalities, Beijing, China) 

Topic: The influence of Silk Road on ancient West China from an archaeological perspective.


Date: 18 March 2010
Speaker: Dr. Clarence, Eng (Independent Scholar)
Topic: Architectural ceramics: problems of dating in Chinese traditional architecture.


Date: 11 February 2010
Speaker: Ms Wang, Hua (PhD Student, IoA, UCL)
Topic: Animal subsistence of the Yangshao Period in the Wei River Valley, with a focus on Wayaogou site in Shaanxi Province.


Date: 14 January 2010
Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Tanner (IoA, UCL)
Topic: Figuring out death: sculpture and funerary representation at the Mausoleum of Halicarnassos and the Tomb of the First Emperor of China.


Past Events (2009)

Date: 10 December 2009
Speaker: Dr. Qin, Ling (Peking University, China)
Topic: Jade as index of craft specialization and regional interaction in Neolithic China.


Date: 12 November 2009
Speaker: Dr. Luisa Mengoni (V&A Museum)
Topic: Jade as index of craft specialization and regional interaction in Neolithic China.


Date: 15 October 2009
Speaker: Dorian Fuller (IoA, UCL)
Topic: The bases of rice domestication, rice landscapes and food traditions in Yangtze China: new directions in archaeobotany.


Date: 15 July 2009
Speaker: Shan, Yueying (PhD student, Peking University) and Zhou, Jianhong (PhD student, Northwest University)
Topic: (Shan) Borrowing and creativity: the study of the rectangular belt plaques unearthed from Han Tombs and Xiongnu Sites

(Zhou) Management of cultural route: a case study of the Silk Road (China Section).


Date: 15 July 2009
Speaker: Chen, Jie (Shanghai Museum)
Topic: The history of Shanghai from an archaeological perspective.


Date: 14 May 2009
Speaker: Mao, Min (PhD student, SOAS)
Topic: The missing nomads: images of the White Huns (Hephthalites) from Samarkand to Dunhuang.


Date: 26 March 2009
Speaker: Huang, Ching-yi (PhD student, SOAS)
Topic: Collecting early Chinese art in England in 1900-1950.


Date: 21 January 2009
Speaker: Zhao, Lin (Shanghai Fudan University)
Topic: A personal appreciative criticism on imperial arts and crafts of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong (17th - 18th century BC).


Past Events (2008)


Date: 04 December 2008
Speaker: Li, Xiuzhen (PhD student, IoA, UCL and Senior Researcher of Shaanxi Terracott Warriors Museum, China)
Topic: Specialisation and standardisation in the bronze weapons of the Terracotta Warriors, Qin Dynasty, China.


Date: 17 October 2008
Speaker: Zan, Luca (University of Bologna)
Topic: Managing cultural heritage In China: a field research perspective.


Date: 04 June 2008
Speaker: Mr. Chen, Kunlong (University of Science and Technology, Beijing)
Topic: Differences and relations: an ongoing technological study on the Hanzhong Bronze, Southwest China.


Date: 01 May 2008
Speaker: Mr. Chang, Kuang-jen (IoA, UCL)
Topic: Foreign trade, local taste: Chinese ceramics in late proto-historic Island Southeast Asia.


Date: 28 February 2008
Speaker: Mr. Huang, He (MSc student in conservation, IoA, UCL)
Topic: Informal talk on the 3-year course he’s taken and his internship projects at British Museum.


Date: 30 January 2008
Speaker: Dr. Zhang, Hai (Beijing University)
Topic: Radiocarbon dating and precise archaeological chronology: a case study in Central Plain of China from Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age