Chinese and Western archaeologists (especially those of the anthropologically-oriented tradition) often seem to be talking past each other, not only because they are publishing in different languages, but also because of differences in theory and method. While most of the major theoretical works in Western languages are by now available in Chinese translations, hardly any English-language publications exist that explain Chinese approaches to archaeological method and theory. This article helps to bridge the gap by introducing the history of debates on archaeological method in China to a Western audience, focusing particularly on issues of typology and classification. Discussing in detail the merits—and issues—of approaches suggested by four of the most influential Chinese archaeologists (Li Chi, Xia Nai, Su Bingqi, and K. C. Chang), this article provides a deeper understanding of the preconditions of archaeological research in China. It also suggests future directions for archaeological work by local and foreign archaeologists, including but also going beyond the classification of the rich body of artifacts coming to light in Chinese excavations.
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