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Department of Archaeology

China Shang Bronzes

Chinese archaeometallurgy is undergoing a revolution. This is manifest in the use of advanced analytical methods but also in the study of previously neglected production remains, an expansion in the metals, chronologies and regional contexts being considered, and an explicit concern with grounding scientific research in broader archaeological agendas. Our collaborative work on copper, bronze, iron, zinc and silver has made notable contributions to various research areas such as the provenance of Shang bronzes, ingenious adaptations of metallurgical technologies to different ecological and socioeconomic constraints, and regional developments of metallurgical traditions that defy simplistic core-periphery models.

Key collaborators

Marcos Martinón-Torres (University of Cambridge)

Kunlong Chen, Siran Liu (University of Science and Technology Beijing)

Jianjun Mei (Needham Research Institute)

Jianli Chen (Peking University)

Wenli Zhou (Chinese Academy of Sciences)

Yaxiong Liu (University College London)

Key publications

Chen, K., Mei, J., Rehren, Th., Liu, S., Yang, W., Martinón-Torres, M., Zhao, C., Hirao, Y., Chen, J., & Liu, Y. (2019). Hanzhong bronzes and highly radiogenic lead in Shang period China. Journal of Archaeological Science 101, 131-139.

Liu, Y., Martinón-Torres, M., Chen, J. Sun, W. and Chen, K. (2019). Iron decarburisation techniques in the eastern Guanzhong Plain, China, during Late Warring States period: an investigation based on slag inclusion analyses. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

Liu, S., Rehren, Th., Qin, D., Chen, J., Zhou, W., Martinón-Torres, M., Huang, X. and Qian, W. (2019) Coal-fuelled crucible lead-silver smelting in 12th-13th century China: A technological innovation in the age of deforestation. Journal of Archaeological Science 104, 75-84.

Wang, L., Chen, F., Wang, Y., Qian, W., Mei, J., Martinón-Torres, M, & Chen, K. (2019). Copper metallurgy in prehistoric upper Ili Valley, Xinjiang, China. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 11, 2407-2417.

Larreina-Garcia, D., Li, Y, Liu, Y, & Martinón-Torres, M. (2018). Bloomery iron smelting in the Daye County (Hubei): Technological traditions in Qing China. Archaeological Research in Asia 16, 148-165.

Liu, S., Rehren, T., Chen, J., Xu, C., Venunan, P., Larreina-Garcia, D., & Martinón-Torres, M. (2015). Bullion production in imperial China and its significance for sulphide ore smelting world-wide. Journal of Archaeological Science, 55 151-165.

Zhou, W., Martinón-Torres, M., Chen, J., Li, Y. (2014). Not so efficient, but still distilled: the technology of Qing Dynasty zinc production at Dafengmen, Chongqing, southwest China. Journal of Archaeological Science, 43 (1), 278-288.

Zhou, W., Martinón-Torres, M., Chen, J., Liu, H., & Li, Y. (2012). Distilling zinc for the Ming Dynasty: the technology of large scale zinc production in Fengdu, southwest China. Journal of Archaeological Science, 39(4), 908-921.

Project Tags

Science, Technology and Innovation
Material Culture
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
East Asia
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Material Culture
Artefact Analysis & Technology
Archaeological Science
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