A View from Below

What a Bronze Age Village Can Tell Us About the Shang Dynasty

Roderick Campbell


The Shang Dynasty, or the second dynasty of Chinese historiography, is largely known to us from elite sources—be they royal divinatory texts, the archaeology of palaces and elite tombs, or the received accounts of kings and ministers. Indeed, despite the fact that archaeological investigation of the Shang dynasty is about as old as archaeology itself in China, never before in its nearly hundred year history has a village site been closely and thoroughly excavated and studied. This talk will focus on collaborative work at the first such site, Guandimiao, and the surprising things we are finding there—things that may force us to re-consider our understanding of Early China.

Roderick B. Campbell is Assistant Professor of East Asian Archaeology and History at ISAW. Since graduating from Harvard in 2007 with a dual degree in Anthropology (Archaeology) and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese History) Professor Campbell's research has been focused on theorizing ancient social-political organization, social violence and history. His geographical and temporal focus has been late 2nd millennium BC north China, although an interest in broader comparison and long-term change is beginning to draw him beyond Shang China. The recent, stunning pace of archaeological work in China has created both a huge backlog of un- or under-analyzed materials and an ever-growing mass of Chinese language publications rapidly outdating Western academic knowledge of the field. This situation creates great opportunities for new analyses and a dire need for new English-language syntheses of the early history of one of the world's great civilizations. With training as an archaeologist, historian and epigrapher, Professor Campbell's work attempts to unite disparate sources of evidence with contemporary social theory.

Admission to lecture closes 10 minutes after scheduled start time.

Reception to follow.

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