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The Maritime Silk Route and Southeast China during the Han dynasty: A view from Panyu, Hepu, and Lingnan’s hinterland

Author(s): Francis Allard

Year: 2017

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Consisting of the present-day provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong, the Lingnan region was from early on impacted by political and cultural forces centered to its north. Following Lingnan’s brief occupation by the Qin (214 – 204 BCE), the Qin general Zhao Tuo established the independent kingdom of Nanyue, whose defeat at the hands of Han armies in 111 BCE resulted in the region’s formal incorporation into the Han Empire. Importantly, various lines of evidence dating to the Han dynasty point to Lingnan’s increasingly extensive contacts with regions located further south along the so-called ‘maritime silk route’. Such evidence includes texts (indicating Lingnan’s likely interaction with the Indian subcontinent), grave goods (e.g. elephant tusks, frankincense, beads made of precious stones), non-local knowledge (e.g. granulation), and architectural elements (e.g. stone columns). Many of these ‘southern’ (or ‘western’) elements are well represented at Panyu (the Nanyue kingdom’s capital) and Hepu (a post-Nanyue kingdom coastal port), leading some archaeologists to emphasize the importance which such contacts played in Lingnan’s development during the Han dynasty. However, a closer look at these foreign elements’ spatial and socio-political patterning throughout Lingnan points instead to the likely limited impact which the Southern Maritime Route played in such developments.

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The Maritime Silk Route and Southeast China during the Han dynasty: A view from Panyu, Hepu, and Lingnan’s hinterland. Francis Allard. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431128)


Geographic Keywords
East/Southeast Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14359

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America