China: State Formation and Urbanization

Li Liu

in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199271016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology

 China: State Formation and Urbanization

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This article examines state formation and urbanisation in China from an archaeological perspective. It explains that modern archaeology conducted by Chinese archaeologists began in the 1920s and it was the result of an interplay between the Chinese traditions of historiography, the introduction of western scientific methodology, and rising nationalism. The first site excavated by a Chinese-led archaeology team was Yinxu (the ruins of Yin/Shang) in Anyang, Henan and the excavations revealed a large urban site, which is known as a capital of the late Shang dynasty. During the second half of the twentieth century, Chinese archaeology developed dramatically, not only as the results of salvage archaeology in response to nationwide construction, but also as the result of topic-oriented research.

Keywords: state formation; urbanisation; China; archaeology; historiography; scientific methodology; nationalism; Yinxu; salvage archaeology; topic-oriented research

Article.  12878 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Chinese Archaeology

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