The Loess Plateau in a Trade Network, c. 1300 - 1050 BCE


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


Art and Archaeology


Hundreds of valuable bronzes dating from the Anyang period have been unearthed on the Loess Plateau over the last few decades. Most of them were found in an enigmatic manner and, behind the seeming prosperity, these settlements and cemeteries are characterized by a scattered, small-sized, and thin-deposited pattern. Interactions with Anyang and the Steppe have been noted, yet few studies attempt to understand the nature of the interaction. This dissertation project approaches the Loess Plateau by exploring its socioeconomic situation, arguing for a trade network comprising Southern Shanxi, Mid-Shaanxi Basin, the Steppe, and—most important—the Loess Plateau and Anyang, and appreciating the changes on the Loess Plateau through anatomizing the root, mechanism, and impact of this network. The most indicative trade goods are highly likely horses and bronze vessels. The fieldwork and laboratory analysis include a small scale excavation accompanied by a survey of surrounding area at the heartland of the Loess Plateau and strontium isotope analysis of the enamel of horse teeth samples. Trade has been a desolate realm in the study of Chinese prehistoric and proto-historic archaeology. This dissertation illustrates how the understanding of ancient society can be restricted without this forgotten or intentionally avoided perspective.