Translocal Identity Construction Among Neolithic and Bronze Age Communities in Northwestern China
Andrew Womack, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology and Department of Asian Studies
Over the last century archaeologists have investigated late Neolithic and Bronze Age interaction networks spanning Eurasia, which in the east connected steppe pastoralists with farming communities in what is now northwestern China. While much attention has focused on the adoption and impact of technologies and domesticates from western Asia in eastern Asia, few models have been put forth to explain how and why these networks formed and functioned. What research has been done on this topic has generally focused on analysis of ceramics and metal objects to suggest long-distance movement of commodities between broad geographic regions. Here I suggest that to understand long-distance interactions, we first need to understand the movements of people and goods at the site-specific level, which I theorize using the concept of translocality. This talk will draw on recent petrographic analysis of ceramic vessels from the Tao River Valley of Gansu Province as well as collections from across northwestern China in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, Sweden. My results demonstrate that localized interaction was occurring on a regular basis among settlements in the Tao River Valley and was likely a key aspect of identity formation across a much wider region.
Andrew Womack is an anthropological archaeologist whose research focuses on early China. Prior to joining the faculty at Furman in 2020, Andrew received his PhD from Yale University in 2017, was a Visiting Faculty Lecturer at McGill University in Montreal from 2017-19, and then worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the Stanford University Archaeology Center from 2019-20. As Principal Investigator of the Excavating Andersson Project, Andrew is working with colleagues in Europe and China to investigate Chinese archaeological materials collected in the 1920s and currently stored at the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm, Sweden. Analysis of these artifacts from sites across northwestern China is providing new insights into Neolithic and early Bronze Age (3200–1500BC) proto-Silk Road interaction networks linking Central and East Asia.This research builds on Andrew’s experience in northwestern China as Associate Director of the Tao River Archaeological Project (TRAP), an international collaboration between Chinese and North American institutions mapping the intersection of technological, social, and climatic change at sites in northwestern China. He is also conducting work across northern China with recent projects at the early Bronze Age city of Shimao, the Shang Dynasty site of Guandimiao, and Western Zhou Dynasty sites in Shandong Province.
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