Three Cities in the Heartland of the Khitan Liao Empire

Author(s): Joshua Wright; Naomi Standen

Year: 2017


A wide range of Medieval settlement has been identified in the watershed of the Shar mörön river, a territory of grassland and narrow river valleys in the heartland of the nomadic Khitan and their Liao state (907-1125 CE). These settlements range from village landscapes to imperial capitals. This paper will introduce three urban settings of the Liao state: (1) A mercantile center, (2) a local administrative hub, and (3) an imperial capital city along with their immediate hinterlands. Through a synthesis of archaeological survey data, historical accounts and remote sensing we will characterize these cities, lay out some of the central questions in the study of these sites, and describe their forms and place in the larger inhabited landscapes of the Eurasian borderlands. Central questions include, to what extent were they immobile anchors in a landscape of mobile habitation? Elements of a system rigid enclosure for citizens of the empire? Monuments to the power of the Liao empire? Or one phase in a long term history of settlement in this culturally dynamic region?

Cite this Record

Three Cities in the Heartland of the Khitan Liao Empire. Joshua Wright, Naomi Standen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431706)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16748