Beginnings of Metallurgy in China

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This material on the early experimentation with metals and alloys and on production of metal artifacts is essential to understanding the emergence of early Chinese civilization as well as to learning about China in relation to its neighbors. The materials presented here will alter the view that Chinese society developed in a vacuum, and that dynastic China was the exclusive making of local cultures in the Yellow River Valley. The articles have neither been brought together nor been available in English before. The maps and charts were produced from information taken from the original site reports and laboratory results not available previously.


“. . . an important contribution to the history of a major aspect of Chinese civilization and a must for Western scholars interested in the subject. . . for the first time, this volume makes the primary sources accessible in English and will allow Western scholars to participate in the debate over the origins of Chinese metallurgy that has raged for decades. . . . the articles suggest the existence of several early Bronze Age centers producing metal objects by foundry and smithing techniques in both the Central Plains region and on the periphery that were interconnected by long distance commercial networks and must have in some way contributed to the development of metallurgy in ancient China. . . A re-evaluation of all the earlier writings on early Chinese metallurgy is now essential, and all future scholarship must begin with this book.” – Emma C. Bunker, Denver Art Museum

“I am sure this volume will be very well received. It combines pure archaeology with archaeometallurgy and applies both to the questions of bronze origins in China. Since the articles all come from the Chinese literature, it is especially helpful to have them presented together in English. It is also wonderful to have the primary literature represented so well here.” – Thomas Chase, (formerly) Conservation laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, Freer/Sackler Museums of Art

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
List of maps, List of Figures; Preface by Ko Tsun, Introduction by Katheryn M. Linduff
Part I: Debate Over the Origins of the Chinese Bronze Age
1. On Early Copper and Bronze Objects in Ancient China (An Zhimin)
2. Historical Perspectives on the Development of Bronze: A Commentary (Chen Mengjia)
3. Some Problems Concerning Early Chinese Copper and Bronze Artifacts (Hua Jueming)
4. Several Issues about the Early Bronze Age in China (An Zhimin)
5. On the Origin of Bronze in Ancient China (Li Xiandeng)
6. A Discussion of the Chalcolithic Age in China (Yan Wenming)
7. The Discovery of and Research on the Early Copper in China (Zhang Zhongpei
8. A Preliminary Study of Early Chinese Copper and Bronze Artifacts (Kaogu Xuebao, trans. Julia Murray)
9. Stages and Regions of Bronze culture in China (Li Boqian)
Part II: The Northwest – Gansu, Qinghai and Xinjiang
10. A Study of Casting and Manufacturing Techniques of Early Copper and Bronze Artifacts Found in Gansu (Sun Shuyun and Han Rubin)
Part III: The Central Plain – Shaanxi, Shanxi and Henan
11. Tests of Brass Items Found at Jiangzhai, Phase I (Han Rubin and Ko Tsun)
12. The First Discovery of a Copper Artifact at Taosi, Xiangfen, Shanxi (Shanxi Work Team, CASS)
13. Report on a Bronze Fragment from Longshan Phase IV at Wangchenggang, Dengfeng (Sun Shuyun)
14. Metallographic Tests on Three Metal Objects Found at Dongxiafeng (Institute of the History of Metallurgy, University of Science and Technology, Beijing)
15. The Relationship Between the Remains at Erlitou and the Early Bronze Age Civilization in China (Zheng Guang)
16. Test Results on Bronzes found at Yinjiacheng (Yueshi Culture) in Sishui country, Shandong (Sun Shuyun)
Part IV: The Northeast – Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Hebei
17. On the Lower Xiajiadian Culture (Li Boqian)
18. Metallographic Analysis of Bronzes Found at the Zhukaigou Site from the Early Shang Period (Institute of the History of Metallurgy/University of Science and Technology, Beijing; the Inner Mongolia Institute of Archaeology
Maps, figures
Appendices: I - Early Metal Objects and Their Find Sites; II – Carbon Dates for Sites Yielding Metal Artifacts
Bibliography; Site Bibliography; Glossary of Chinese Sites; Index

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