Institute of Archaeology


Dams, moats, and cities: climate and societies in late-Holocene China

22 January 2019

Yijie Zhuang has been invited to give the Elsley Zeitlyn Lecture on Chinese Archaeology and Culture 2019 at the British Academy on 6 February.

Dr Yijie Zhuang (UCL Institute of Archaeology)


Whilst the late-Holocene climate was becoming drier with increasing climatic anomalies, many walled sites or cities emerged and became regional centres that witnessed population agglomeration and technological flourishment. To feed the growing population and their increasing demand on land, water, food, and other resources, these ‘cities’ were drawn closer to riverine environments and wetlands. By diversifying and intensifying their subsistence strategies, and constructing colossal infrastructures, they also fundamentally transformed their local landscapes. Examining key sites from the Yellow River and Yangtze Delta, this lecture will explore the dynamics between society, landscape, and climate on these late-Holocene walled sites and investigate how these factors influenced and led to the emergence of early states.

Dr Zhuang has conducted intensive fieldwork in different parts of East and Southeast Asia. His interests lie in the reconstruction of water management systems and agricultural ecologies of both the monsoonal and arid regions of Asia and how these relate to long term social evolution.

The Elsley Zeitlyn Lecture series was endowed through a bequest from Miss Myrtle Henrietta Zeitlyn, in memory of her father Elsley Zeitlyn. The lectures are intended to promote understanding and appreciation of Chinese archaeology, art and music. The lecture was first delivered in 2001.