Genesis of Bronze Polities in the Lake Dian Basin: An Archaeological Survey of Prehistoric Landscapes and Settlements in the Lake Dian Basin


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Postodctoral Fellowships (North America)


Museum of Anthropology


This regional settlement survey of the Lake Dian Basin in Yunnan Province is a Sino-American collaborative project between the Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the University of Michigan. This region was once the “center” of the “Dian Kingdom” (fourth century BC to 109 BC), a Bronze Age Civilization at the crossroads between Central Plains Chinese states and peninsular Southeast Asia. An understanding about the timing and emergence of this society as well as its sociopolitical organization depends on future archaeological research. An investigation into the sociopolitical developments of this region will also expand our current understanding of cross-regional interaction in the ancient East and Southeast Asia. The Yunnan Institute is collaborating with Michigan on a settlement survey project that applies systematic full coverage methods in the Lake Dian basin. The project goals are to 1) identify variations in settlement location and size; 2) collect surface samples for determining occupation periods and activities; and 3) collect organic samples from exposed archaeological features for dating and botanical analysis. Because archaeologists from the two western institutions are recognized for successfully applying full coverage survey in both Old and New World contexts, a collaboration of this nature supports the cross-cultural dissemination of this archaeological application.