Trans-cultural interaction in China’s Shang Period: an archaeo-metallurgical perspective


The production of ritual bronze vessels is an internationally recognised feature of Bronze Age China, contrasting strikingly with other early civilizations across the world. Their manufacture exploded in the Shang period (16th to 11th centuries BC), when bronze metallurgy spread across the whole territory of present-day China. However, while the production of ritual bronze vessels predominated in the Central Plains, resent research is showing how surrounding regions exhibited strong local characteristics in bronze production, reflecting idiosyncratic ideological, cultural and technological choices. A ‘core-periphery’ diffusion model to explain Bronze Age metallurgy, rooted in the traditional dynastic evolution, remains the paradigm in both Chinese and Western literature. This mainstream interpretation emphasizes the domination of the Central Plains but oversimplifies the complicated historical trajectories and interactions among many geographically different regions. This paper will present recent archaeometallurgical studies of different regions such as Hanzhong, Northern and central Shaanxi focusing on their material and manufacturing features. The ‘core-periphery’ paradigm will then be re-examined and characteristics of regional metallurgies and their relationships will be discussed further.

Cite this Record

Trans-cultural interaction in China’s Shang Period: an archaeo-metallurgical perspective. Kunlong Chen, Jianjun Mei, Thilo Rehren, Congcang Zhao. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431887)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15240