Institute of Archaeology


How do the objects from the Sanxingdui Site reveal a sacrificial scene?

05 October 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

ICCHA China Night poster for seminar with a black background, coloured text and an image of a (metal) artefact on the left

Changping Zhang (Wuhan University, China), will give an ICCHA China Night research seminar at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 5 October.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA)


UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

This is a hybrid event hosted by the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA), which will take place in Room 612, 6th floor of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, and also online via Zoom. Registration for the Zoom event is via the booking link above. This seminar is free and open to all. All welcome! 


Sacrificial pits were discovered at the Sanxingdui site in the Chengdu Plain, on the upper Yangtze River in China: two in 1986 and six in 2019-2023. A large number of bronze figures, human heads, human masks and other figures as well as other bronze, gold, and jade objects were unearthed.  These have been dated to the late Shang Dynasty. The types and shapes of these objects have never been seen before, and they are believed to be used for sacrifices. This lecture attempts to understand the sacrificial scene by analysing these figures and other personal images through their appearance, size, and posture, and to reveal the background of why Sanxingdui culture prospered.

About the Speaker

Changping Zhang is a professor in the archaeology department at the School of History, Wuhan University, China. He received his PhD from Peking University and then worked in the Archaeology and Cultural Relics Institute of Hubei Province for over twenty years, working on field excavations in southern China. After moving to Wuhan University, his teaching and research interests have focused on the Bronze Age and bronze objects. He has published a series of books and over 100 papers on the study of Chinese bronzes and early civilization.  Professor Zhang has been a visiting professor at the Institute of College de France, Harvard-Yenching Institute, Princeton University, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the National Gallery of Art of the USA. He is most recently a visiting fellow at the Needham Research Institute of Cambridge.

Save the date!

We will also host an ICCHA Public Lecture on 26 October 2023. The lecture by Professor Dame Jessica Rawson of the University of Oxford will mark the start of celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the ICCHA. Please save the date in your diary.