Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chinese Culture At The Crossroads: Prehistoric Archaeological Findings Highlighted In New Research

Date:
August 24, 2009
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
Recent archaeological discoveries from far-flung corners of China are forcing scientists to reconsider the origins of ancient Chinese civilization -- and a new crop of young archaeologists are delving into the modern nation's roots.

Recent archaeological discoveries from far-flung corners of China are forcing scientists to reconsider the origins of ancient Chinese civilization – and a new crop of young archaeologists are delving into the modern nation's roots. In the August 21 issue of the journal Science, a group of articles by Science news writer Andrew Lawler explore how, over several millennia, the most populous and economically vibrant nation in the world evolved from a much wider array of peoples and cultures than once imagined.

Lawler crisscrossed China recently for three weeks, traveling from the country's steamy southeastern plains to the rugged westernmost province of Xinjiang, interviewing dozens of archaeologists at a host of sites. This special news package puts a spotlight on how the various archaeological findings of the past decade are challenging what the Chinese people once thought about their country and themselves. As a construction boom continues to alter the physical face of the country – inadvertently uncovering vital clues to China's past, illuminating ancient trade routes and long-lost cultures – a new and more complex history of the Chinese people is emerging right before their very eyes.

The wealth of these recent archaeological discoveries demands a re-write of some history books – and young scholars are even now questioning the existence of a legendary Chinese dynasty, the Xia. Less willing to take ancient texts at face value than their predecessors, this new generation of Chinese researchers is relying on physical data – and more "Western" methods – in their attempts to accurately retrace Chinese history.

But looting and development threaten to destroy the country's heritage. In a land full of wealthy tombs and poor farmers, grave robbing has been an ancient tradition. China's current construction boom poses yet another threat to archaeological sites, though new laws are attempting to halt such damage. Those who destroy evidence of the country's rich history now face jail time and even the death penalty (though no one appears to have been executed for looting yet). Meanwhile, archaeologists are finding novel ways to work with developers and provincial governments to rescue at least some ancient sites from the destruction that comes with the country's economic growth.

"The exciting discoveries made recently across China, coupled with the country's fast-paced development, make this an opportune time to dig into new questions about China's origins, the state of its threatened ancient sites, and the increasing expertise of its archaeologists," says Andrew Lawler, author of the Science news package.

Lawler's special news package on Chinese archaeology covers the accidental discovery and later excavation of Jinsha, an ancient site located near downtown Chengdu in Sichuan, and about 600 miles (1000 kilometers) from the traditional center of Chinese civilization along the Yellow River. Long assumed to have been a cultural backwater, researchers have only recently gleaned the real history of Sichuan's surprisingly ancient and rich culture, which is thousands of years older than they had once believed. Now, thanks to a group of savvy archaeologists and their allies in the city government, Jinsha has become a museum, protected from looters and complete with adjacent land reserved for further archaeological digs in the future.

Another article by Lawler illuminates the earliest Silk Road which brought valued goods like bronze from the west and possibly the staple grain of ancient China, millet, to the west. These recent discoveries have led Chinese researchers to acknowledge significant outside influence on their ancient culture, breaking an old taboo put in place when China was largely closed to the outside world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew Lawler. Beyond the Yellow River: How China Became China. Science, 2009; 325 (5943): 930 DOI: 10.1126/science.325_930

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Chinese Culture At The Crossroads: Prehistoric Archaeological Findings Highlighted In New Research." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820161131.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2009, August 24). Chinese Culture At The Crossroads: Prehistoric Archaeological Findings Highlighted In New Research. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820161131.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Chinese Culture At The Crossroads: Prehistoric Archaeological Findings Highlighted In New Research." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090820161131.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Tyrannosaur Pack-Hunting Theory Aided By New Footprints

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A new study claims a set of prehistoric T-Rex footprints supports the theory that the giant predators hunted in packs instead of alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-Lift

AP (July 24, 2014) The U.S. Mint has re-designed the John F. Kennedy half dollar coin to better match the former president's likeness. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

Raw: MD Church Built in 1773 Ravaged by Fire

AP (July 22, 2014) Authorities say a 241-year-old church on the National Register of Historic Places has been ravaged by fire in Maryland. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins