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Ancient Central China
Centers and Peripheries along the Yangzi River

$34.99 (G)

Part of Case Studies in Early Societies

  • Date Published: January 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521727662


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About the Authors
  • Ancient Central China provides an up-to-date synthesis of archaeological discoveries in the upper and middle Yangzi River region of China, including the Three Gorges Dam reservoir zone. It focuses on the Late Neolithic (late third millennium BC) through the end of the Bronze Age (late first millennium BC) and considers regional and interregional cultural relationships in light of anthropological models of landscape. Rowan K. Flad and Pochan Chen show that centers and peripheries of political, economic, and ritual activities were not coincident, and that politically peripheral regions such as the Three Gorges were crucial hubs in interregional economic networks, particularly related to prehistoric salt production. The book provides detailed discussions of recent archaeological discoveries and data from the Chengdu Plain, Three Gorges, and Hubei to illustrate how these various components of regional landscape were configured across Central China.

    • Discusses the Three Gorges of China, a region of international interest
    • Provides a new theoretical structure for discussions of regional landscapes in prehistory, integrating firsthand archaeological research
    • Gives an insight into how early populations acquired and traded salt, a vital resource for human society
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Provocatively using the term ‘Central China’ for eastern Sichuan, Chongqing, Hubei, and Hunan, the authors bring to the fore the crucial role of the Three Gorges, a periphery that has been overlooked in most historical and archaeological studies. Their multifaceted approach completely reshapes our understanding of early southwest Chinese cultures."
    Alain Thote, Directeur d'études, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

    "This splendid book offers new theoretical insights and substantive evidence that transforms our understanding of the emergence of China’s antiquity in the heartlands of its earliest cultural complexity. With expertise and style, the authors implicate environmental conditions, political developments, economic processes, and the role of religious rituals in the cultural landscape in the emergence of China’s ancient civilization."
    C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Harvard University

    "Ancient Central China provides the first ever comprehensive survey of the region in question by integrating multiple, overlapping topographies of natural environment, research history, political narrative, archaeological culture, economic activity, and ritual performance. It presents a cogent case of dynamic relationship between center and periphery. A must-read for anyone interested in ancient China, and a very valuable contribution to world archaeology."
    Jay Xu, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

    "In Ancient Central China, Flad and Chen create a data-rich and theoretically significant volume that presents a compelling contemporary synthesis for this fascinating region. A case study replete with plentiful and well-elucidated local knowledge, couched within a broad comparative perspective, the volume offers significant new insight into the development of political complexity, social and ritual identity, and the nature of interregional entanglements."
    Tina Thurston, University at Buffalo, State University of New York

    "Ancient Central China is replete with up-to-date information (especially on Sichuan and the Three Gorges) and the authors’ work at Zhongba and on the Chengdu Plain is a shining example of what is possible in Chinese archaeology. The history of scholarship in the region is especially rich and the authors’ synthesis of palaeo-climate and geography is the best I know of in Chinese archaeology … Ancient Central China contains simultaneously some of the most stimulating theoretical proposals in Chinese archaeology and a much needed synthesis of an understudied region presented in provocative fashion.'

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521727662
    • length: 428 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.67kg
    • contains: 63 b/w illus. 16 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: centers and peripheries in the ancient Yangzi River Valley
    Part I. Setting the Stage:
    2. The environment of Central China
    3. Historiography and the topography of research: a history of archaeology in Central China
    Part II. Political and Cultural Topographies:
    4. The Sichuan Basin: Shu and its predecessors
    5. The Middle Yangzi: the archaeology and history of Chu and its predecessors
    6. Periphery at the center: the Ba and archaeological cultures in the Three Gorges
    Part III. Topographies of Economic Activity and Ritual:
    7. Economic topographies: production, exchange, and the integrating role of salt
    8. Ritual topographies: sacrifice and divination
    9. Ritual topographies: burials and social identity
    10. Conclusion: landscapes of interaction and the interaction of landscapes.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Chinese Classics
  • Authors

    Rowan K. Flad, Harvard University, Massachusetts
    Rowan K. Flad is Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University. He has received grants from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Luce Foundation, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation and the American Philosophical Foundation, among others. He has been a traveling lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America and has published extensively on archaeology in China in many edited volumes and journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Anthropology, The Holocene, Antiquity, the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, the Journal of Field Archaeology, Asian Perspectives, the Journal of East Asian Archaeology, the Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Kaogu and Nanfang Minzu Kaogu. He co-edited a book on specialization in the series Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, and is the author of Salt Production and Social Hierarchy in Ancient China: An Archaeological Investigation of Specialization in China's Three Gorges, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011.

    Pochan Chen, National Taiwan University
    Pochan Chen is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at National Taiwan University. His major research focus is the Neolithic to Han Dynasty of China and Neolithic Taiwan. He has published several papers in journals such as Asian Perspectives, Bianjiang Minzu Kaogu Yu Minzu Kaoguxue Jikan, Diaro de Campo, Kaogu, Nanfang Minzu Kaogu, Nanfang Wenwu, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Xinshixue and Yanyeshi Yanjiu, and in book sections of Salt Archaeology of China, Volume 1, and Sel, Eau et Forêt: D'hier à Aujourd'hui.

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