China Seminar: New Light on the First Archaeological Discovery of Chinese Bronzes
Mon, October 12, 2009 • 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM • ART 1.120
Dr. Lothar von Falkenhausen, Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology
A large number of bronzes--perhaps more than one hundred--were unearthed at Xinzheng in central China in 1923. Even though the details of the excavation were unrecorded, this discovery marks a milestone in the history of Chinese archaeology because this was the first time that a coherent assemblage from a single tomb was made available for scholarly study. The exact dating of the assemblage has, however, remained controversial. In the intervening decades, a large number of archaeological discoveries have been made at Xinzheng, allowing us define the local bronze-manufacturing tradition in this area with some precision. The study of these new discoveries suggests a new and somewhat surprising interpretation of the bronze assemblage found in 1923.
Lothar von Falkenhausen obtained a PhD in anthropology at Harvard University in 1988. Having taught at Stanford University and UC Riverside, he came to UCLA in 1993 and was promoted to Professor in 1997. His research concerns the archaeology of the Chinese Bronze Age, preferably focusing on large interdisciplinary and historical issues on which archaeological materials can provide significant new information. One example of this orientation are his numerous publications on musical instruments (especially chime-bells), culminating in his book Suspended Music (University of California Press, 1993). His most recent book, Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius (1000-250 BC) (UCLA, 2006), is the first scholarly monograph in Western languages which reconstructs early Chinese society by using the large and complicated body of archaeological data accumulated since modern archaeology was introduced in China in the early 20th century. Other publications concern ancient Chinese bronzes and their inscriptions, ritual, regional cultures, archaeological synthesis, ancient trans-Asiatic contacts, and methodological issues. As the American co-PI of the ongoing Peking University-UCLA Joint Archaeological Project, he is directing excavations at ancient salt-production sites in the Yangzi River Basin. He serves as editor of the Journal of East Asian Archaeology and of the Early China Special Monographs Series.