A landmark publication – Chinadaily.com.cn

An archaeologist examines a gold ingot excavated from the tomb of the Marquis of Haihun of the Han dynasty (206 BC. GUO JING / FOR DAILY CHINA

To mark the centenary of the birth of modern Chinese archeology, a multi-volume work has been published, paying homage to generations of scholars who have dedicated themselves to unearthing and decoding the country’s history.

One Hundred Years of Chinese Archaeological History (1921-2021), which comprises four volumes and took 276 scholars three years, was finally published on Wednesday by China Social Sciences Press in Beijing.

According to Wang Wei, president of the Archaeological Society of China and editor of the book, it is, to date, the largest and most comprehensive encyclopedia on Chinese archeology of the last century. The unprecedented project contains approximately 9.17 million characters of text.

“Chinese archeology has entered a golden age,” says Wang. “At this crucial time, it is necessary to review the progress of the past 100 years if we are to explore our own path of study with Chinese characteristics in the future.”

In 1921, the excavation of the site of the village of Yangshao in present-day Sanmenxia, ​​Henan province, marked the beginning of systematic studies on the Neolithic period of China. The extraordinary discovery of a culture over 5,000 years old has also been widely recognized by scholars as the birth of Chinese archeology.

In October, in a congratulatory letter to a conference in Sanmenxia celebrating the monumental anniversary, President Xi Jinping also called for using Chinese characteristics, styles and ethics in related work, while commending them. great achievements of archaeologists during the last century.

The newly published work is divided into about fifty thematic sections, mainly in chronological order. They range from major prehistoric sites across the country to more “recent” finds and treasures from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

Different types of sites, such as cemeteries, city ruins, cave temples, as well as jade and ceramic relics, are elaborated. Major finds along the ancient Silk Road, the Great Wall, oracle bone inscriptions (the earliest known Chinese written characters), and other significant Chinese cultural icons are also discussed separately.

“But the book is not just a collection of brief introductions to the exceptional discoveries of the past 100 years,” says Wang. “More importantly, this is a review of crucial academic perspectives and how the understanding of academics has developed.”

Jacob L. Thornton