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The Archaeology of Early China
From Prehistory to the Han Dynasty


  • Date Published: March 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521145251

£ 29.99

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About the Authors
  • This volume aims to satisfy a pressing need for an updated account of Chinese archaeology. It covers an extended time period from the earliest peopling of China to the unification of the Chinese Empire some two thousand years ago. The geographical coverage includes the traditional focus on the Yellow River basin but also covers China's many other regions. Among the topics covered are the emergence of agricultural communities; the establishment of a sedentary way of life; the development of sociopolitical complexity; advances in lithic technology, ceramics, and metallurgy; and the appearance of writing, large-scale public works, cities, and states. Particular emphasis is placed on the great cultural variations that existed among the different regions and the development of interregional contacts among those societies.

    • Covers a long period in Chinese history, from the Paleolithic to the Early Imperial period
    • Emphasizes the great cultural diversity of Chinese culture
    • Combines up-to-date information on the archaeology of China with advanced and innovative analysis and insights on its social meaning
    • Provides comprehensive references and lists for further reading
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The Archaeology of Early China is the most up-to-date synthesis of major developments in China from human origins to the early Imperial period. Readable and concise, it emphasizes mobility and interaction in different eras and eloquently sets a new standard for critical evaluation of the interpretation of archaeological data.' Rowan Flad, Harvard University, Massachusetts

    'Gideon Shelach's book is an enormously important publication on archaeology of early China. It is well illustrated and very well documented. All of those who study East Asian archaeology and ancient history, from undergraduates to seasoned researchers, will benefit from reading it.' Xingcan Chen, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

    'Gideon Shelach's book offers thought-provoking interpretations about trajectories of social change by highlighting regional variation and interregional interaction. The broad geographic and temporal coverage includes generous descriptions of data that will enable students to evaluate issues relevant to the development of complex societies in diverse regions.' Anne P. Underhill, Yale University, Connecticut

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521145251
    • length: 392 pages
    • dimensions: 255 x 205 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.96kg
    • contains: 226 b/w illus. 37 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The geographic and environmental background
    2. Before cultivation: human origins and the incipient development of human culture in China
    3. The transition to food production: variability and processes
    4. The development of agriculture and sedentary life in north China
    5. The shift to agriculture and sedentism in central and south China
    6. The emergence and development of sociopolitical complexity
    7. Stepping into history
    8. The Shang dynasty: the emergence of the state in China
    9. Regional variation and interregional interactions during the Bronze Age: 'center and periphery' or 'interaction spheres'?
    10. The societies and cultures of the Zhou period: processes of globalization and the genesis of local identities
    11. The son of heaven and the creation of a bureaucratic empire.

  • Author

    Gideon Shelach-Lavi, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Gideon Shelach-Lavi is the Louis Freiberg Professor of East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork in northeast China since 1995. He is currently heading the Fuxin Regional Archaeological Project. Shelach-Lavi has published many articles in leading academic journals. His most recent books include Prehistoric Societies on the Northern Frontiers of China: Archaeological Perspectives on Identity Formation and Economic Change during the First Millennium BCE (2009); Chifeng International Collaborative Archaeological Project (co-author, 2011); and The Birth of Empire: The State of Qin Revisited (co-editor, 2013).

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