Who were the urban Liao? - The cultural salience of ‘urban’ life in a mobile society

Author(s): Lance Pursey

Year: 2017


Recent insights into how urbanism and permanent settlements can function and be integrated into mobile societies has helped to overturn the notion that human societies ‘progress’ from mobile forms of production through irrigated agriculture to urbanism. Indeed the Liao Empire (907-1125CE) of Northeast Asia shows how these three modalities can coexist and be interdependent. City and kiln sites, standing architecture and tombs are distributed extensively through the former Liao territory, and yet in a society that encompassed sedentary and mobile populations the cultural salience of being ‘urban’ remains unexplored or presumed to be homologous to those of Tang (619-907) or Northern Song society (960-1125).

This paper uses textual geographical data found in published epigraphical and biographical sources from the Liao period, combined with the spatial and archaeological context of Liao epigraphy to map the movements of Liao elites over the landscape, as well as political relationships within networks of the Liao administrative geography, with an aim to elucidate what it meant to be ‘urban’ in the Liao.

Cite this Record

Who were the urban Liao? - The cultural salience of ‘urban’ life in a mobile society. Lance Pursey. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431710)


Epigraphy Liao Medieval

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): 15780