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Department of Archaeology


Professor Mei is an archaeo-metallurgist, specialising in the origins and role of metallurgy in Early China, and cultural interactions between China and the West.


Professor Mei’s is an archaeo-metallurgist, specializing in the origins and role of metallurgy in Early China, and cultural interactions between China and the West.

He studied physical chemistry in metallurgical processes and the history of science and technology at the Beijing University of Iron and Steel Technology (now the University of Science and Technology Beijing, USTB) in the 1980s. He first came to Cambridge in 1994, as a Li Foundation scholar working at the Needham Research Institute, then began his PhD study in archaeology at the University of Cambridge with a scholarship offered by the East Asian History of Science Foundation, Hong Kong. After postdoctoral work in Tokyo and Cambridge he returned to China in 2004 as a professor at the USTB and Director of the Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials. In recent years he has been a leading member of the team formed to write the volume on non-ferrous metallurgy for the Science and Civilisation in China series, founded by the great British sinologist and historian of science Joseph Needham (1900-1995). He is active in a number of international research groups, and is currently President of the International Society for the History of East Asian Science, Technology and Medicine. In January 2014, he joined the Needham Research Institute as its Director.

Professor Mei is a Fellow of Churchill College, and Fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

Key Publications

Key publications: 

Selected English publications:

Jianjun Mei and Thilo Rehren (2009) (eds.). Metallurgy and Civilisation: Eurasia and Beyond. London: Archetype Publications. 

(2000). Copper and Bronze Metallurgy in Late Prehistoric Xinjiang: Its Cultural Context and Relationship with Neighbouring Regions. BAR International Series 865. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Mei Jianjun, Xu Jianwei, and Chen Kunlong, et al. (2012). Recent Research on Early Bronze Metallurgy in Northwest China. In Paul Jett (ed.), Scientific Research on Ancient Asian Metallurgy. Washington: Freer Gallery of Arts, pp. 37-46.

Jianjun Mei, Kunlong Chen and Wei Cao (2009). Scientific Examination of Shang-Dynasty Bronzes from Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province, China. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(9): 1881-1891.

(2009). Early Metallurgy and Socio-Cultural Complexity: Archaeological Discoveries in Northwest China. In Bryan K. Hanks and Katheryn M.Linduff (eds.), Social Complexity in Prehistoric Eurasia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 215-32.

Kunlong Chen, Thilo Rehren, Jianjun Mei, et al. (2009). Special Alloys from Remote Frontiers: Scientific Study of the Shang Bronzes from Hanzhong, Southwest Shaanxi. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(10): 2108-2118.

(2006). The Material Culture of the Iron Age Peoples in Xinjiang, Northwest China.In Joan Aruz and Ann Farkas (eds.), The Golden Deer of Eurasia. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pp. 132-145.

Jianjun Mei and Thilo Rehren (2005). Copper Smelting from Xinjiang, Northwest China, Part I: Kangcun village, Kuche County, c. 18th century AD. Historical Metallurgy, 39(2): 96-105.

(2004). Metallurgy in Bronze Age Xinjiang and its Cultural Context. In Katheryn M. Linduff (ed.), Metallurgy in Eastern Eurasia from the Urals to the Yellow River. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press, pp. 173-88.

(2003). Qijia and Seima-Turbino: the Question of Early Contacts between Northwest China and the Eurasian Steppe. Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 75: 31-54.

(2003). Cultural interaction between China and Central Asia during the Bronze Age. Proceedings of the British Academy, 121: 1-39.

Jianjun Mei and Colin Shell (2002). The Iron Age Cultures in Xinjiang and their Steppe Connections. In Katie Boyle et al. (eds.), Ancient Interactions: East and West in Eurasia. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, pp. 213-234.

Job Titles

Director, Needham Research Institute

General Info

Not available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 

Contact Details


Person keywords: 
archaeometallurgy, China,
Archaeological Science
Science, Technology and Innovation
Material Culture
Geographical areas: 
Central Asia
East Asia
Periods of interest: 
Copper/Bronze Age
Iron Age