The Kingly Craft: Craft Production and Political Economy of the Shang Capital at Anyang


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Study and Research Fellowships (East and Southeast Asia)




Princeton University and Harvard University


Anyang was the first archaeological site excavated systematically in China. Excavations began in 1928, and have continued almost uninterrupted to the present day. While it is the best known and best studied Bronze Age site in China, we know fairly little about the role the Bronze Age capital and its ruling elite played in resource procurement and consumption, craft production, and regional interaction. This project therefore examines current evidence for craft production at Anyang, and investigates how the ruling elite controlled resources, organized craft production, and built political alliance in its capital region and among polities surrounding the Shang state through control over luxury items. The project examines archaeological data for bronze casting, bone working, pottery manufacturing, and the utilization of exotic materials such as marble and sea shells. It also examines the available textual information in order to reconstruct the underlying social and political organization at Anyang and the nature of regional interaction during the Late Shang period. The ultimate goal of the project is, however, to compare Anyang with other state-level societies and place the Shang capital in the context of world civilizations.