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New Research on Technology Change in Early Gansu: The 2016 Season of the Tao River Archaeology Project

New Research on Technology Change in Early Gansu: The 2016 Season of the Tao River Archaeology Project
19 Russell Street, Room AP246
Time: Nov 18th, 2:00 pm End: Nov 18th, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: East Asian Studies (FAS), Archaeology, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 400-1 BCE, 2000-, 1-400 CE
Talk by Rowan Flad (Harvard University)

The Department of Anthropology and the Archaeology Centre presents

New Research on Technology Change in Early Gansu: The 2016 Season of the Tao River Archaeology Project

Abstract: Around 4000 years ago a series of changes in subsistence and craft technologies conspired to radically transform material culture and human lives along the "proto-Silk Road" in Northwest China. The most significant changes occurred during the Qijia Culture period (ca. 4200-3600 calBP). Bronze metallurgy became increasingly important, ceramic technology underwent radical changes, and new crops and animals moved in from the west and north. These changes laid the foundation for the Chinese Bronze Age, however the specific natures of these technological changes are still quite obscure. Who were the people involved in establishing or generating new technological practices? Were the changes widespread or limited to certain places and times? Do technological changes relate to population movement? Do changes coincide with significant environmental changes? In particular, we lack an understanding of (1) the degree to which technologies changed at the same time within in local areas of the broader region of Northwest China before, during, and after the Qijia period itself, (2) the precise chronology of specific manifestations of subsistence and craft technologies and the degree to which change was rapid or gradual, (3) the nature of the environment surrounding specific examples of technological persistence or change in this region, and (4) whether technologies used in widely published burial practices differ significantly from those evident at unexplored residential locations.

The Tao River valley is a major tributary to the Yellow River and is located at the confluence of the historical networks of interaction and exchange that comprise the "Silk Roads," which include connections through the Hexi Corridor to Central Asia, as well as the "Southern Silk Road" involving connections along the eastern fringes of the Tibetan Plateau south towards Southeast Asia. The river valley is rich in sites dating to the entire sequence of regional archaeological cultures that comprise the prehistoric chronology in the region: Yangshao culture (ca. 7000-5000 BP); Majiayao, Bansan and Machang "Painted-pottery" cultures (ca. 5200-4000 BP); Qijia culture; and the post-Qijia, Xindian (3600-2600 BP) and Siwa (ca. 3300-2500 BP) cultures. Furthermore, the type sites for many of these cultural traditions, including Majiayao, Qijia, Xindian and Siwa, are all found along this river. The Tao River Archaeological Project (TRAP) explores fundamental questions about the nature of technology and technological change and the relationships between technological and social change in this region. The project builds on extensive preliminary work from 2012-2015 and in July 2016 conducted small-scale preliminary excavations as the next stage in this project. This paper reports on the preliminary work and the results of the 2016 excavations.

Rowan Flad (Harvard University). Professor Flad's research is currently focused on the emergence and development of complex society during the late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age in China. This research incorporates interests in diachronic change in production processes, the intersection between ritual activity and production, the role of animals in early Chinese society - particularly their use in sacrifice and divination, and the processes involved in social change in general.

The event is free and open to all. Registration required. For further information, please contact the Department of Anthropology at (416) 978-4805.

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