Heishuiguo: a transit hub on the prehistoric Silk Road
Talk by Liangren Zhang, Northwest University of Xi'an
Monday, November 25, 2013
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Bunche Hall 10383
The Heishuiguo site is a Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement located near Zhangye, which was an important military outpost and commercial town in the middle of the Hexi Corridor, a crucial section of the Silk Road that has been channeling goods, religions, and technologies between East Asia and the Mediterranean World since the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). The four-season excavations at Heishuiguo up to 2013 have produced a great quantity of painted pottery, adobe architecture, metalworking remains, crop seeds, and animal bones. Dated to 2100-1600BC, the site provides ample evidence to manifest the vibrant transmission of adobe architecture construction technology, domesticated wheat, barley, and sheep and cow from Central Asia, copper metallurgy from the Eurasian steppe, painted pottery technology and domesticated millet from the Yellow River valley, and cowry shell from the south. As a venue of human and cultural traffic, the Silk Road began to function already in the prehistoric period.
Prof. Liangren Zhang earned his Bachelor degree in 1991 in Chinese archaeology from Peking University in Beijing, after which he joined the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and began his journey in excavation and research on Bronze Age archaeology in China, which resulted in several excavation reports and research articles published thereafter. Since 2000, he began to study Russian archaeology in the Department of Art History, University of California at Los Angeles. His PhD dissertation “Ancient Society and Metallurgy”, which was finished in 2007 and published in 2012, unites Bronze Age archaeological materials from Russian Eastern Europe (from Don River to Ural River) and northern China to tackle the issue of the development of social complexity, and the interaction between social complexity and metallurgy in both regions. Returning to China in 2009, he is now a professor at Northwest University at Xi’an. In recent years he has been focusing his research on prehistoric cultural movements across northern China, Russia, and Central Asia. He is currently directing an excavation project at a Bronze Age metalworking settlement of Heishuiguo in Gansu Province and a research project of prehistoric metallurgy of Xinjiang.