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New Light on Ancient China

  • Chêng Tê-k'un

During and immediately after the 1939-45 war archaeology in China was practically at a standstill. With the world quietening down once more, the study of the human past began again to make a tremendous spurt forward. From Siberia through Western Asia and Africa to Central America excavation began everywhere. China, where the culture of Eastern Asia was born, was no exception. Before the war there was only a handful of archaeologists in the Chinese field. They were either enthusiasts from abroad or graduates of Harvard or London who worked on a few limited sites or some ancient tombs which had been discovered by accident. In the last fifteen years the situation has been greatly altered. Hundreds of young archaeologists have been trained in the universities as well as in permanent quarters erected close to the important sites under the direction of the Institute of Archaeology. They are organized into field teams that can be sent to any part of the country to co-operate with local workers. They work in the field and produce their reports by group discussion.

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Several books on the archaeology of China have been published in the last few years and four of them were listed in the Book Chronicle in our March number (ANTIQUITY, 1964, 17). In this article Dr Chêng Tê-k'un, Lecturer in Far Eastern Art and Archaeology in the University of Cambridge, discusses the new light thrown on the early cultural development of China by the following two books: Hsin Chung-kuo ti k'ao ku shou huo (Archaeology in New China) edited by the Institute of Archaeology. Peking, 1962. 136 pp., 130 pls. (8 in colour), 54 figs. An English edition by Dr Hsia Nai is in preparation; The Archaeology of Ancient China by Chang Kwang-chih. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1963. 346 pp., 16 pls., 33 figs., 12 tables, 14 maps. 56s., $7.50.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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