My research currently focuses on the economic system and social development during the Bronze Age and Han Empire. My research incorporates interests in various archaeological techniques including metallurgy, zooarchaeology and GIS (Geographic Information System) to study the craft production and exchange network during one of the most critical periods in Chinese history. I have conducted archaeological research in Shaanxi to investigate the ancient iron economy in the Han capital area since 2011. New research is focused on the Han exchange network in provincial centers and imperial expansion of the Han dynasty.
For a long time, archaeological study has been mistakenly labelled as inductive and a “consumer”, rather than a “contributor”, to theories in humanities. Nonetheless, the value of archaeological study in enhancing and transforming the way how the past was conceptualized has been generally underestimated. This seminar will approach to a key topic in archaeology — commodity exchange — by introducing various theoretical debates and case studies derived from different regions. The purpose of the seminar is twofold. First, commodity exchange has deep roots in history even without the presence of money used as a value against, but what kinds of social interaction and relationship would be constructed in the past? How did the significance of commodities in ancient economies evolve over the course of human history? Second, epistemologically, to what extent models or frameworks derived from the modern world about commodity exchange could be projected back in the historical period without extensive textual records? Through clarification of some definitions such as exchange and commodities, we will explore how an archaeological perspective can eventually enhance the understanding about the current world system, which is based on global division and integration of labor.
My project includes two components. First, I will take opportunities to collect bibliography about Roman economies to facilitate my manuscript project about the archaeology of the Han Empire. Second, because I have several on-going projects investigating the transportation of commodities in the Han Empire, I would like to compare my research result and methodology with cases in Prehistorical and Iron Age Europe conducted by scholars of TOPOI project in the Department of Prehistoric Archaeology. The comparison can contribute to the discussion of anthropological frameworks about production organization and commercial exchange in the study of economic interaction in the ancient world.