Sources of Shang History

DATE: October 26-27, 2012

PLACE: 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

SPONSOR: Institute of East Asian Studies



October 25, 2012, marks the eightieth birthday of Professor David Keightley. As a way of celebrating this milestone, the Institute of East Asian Studies of the University of California, Berkeley, will host a small workshop to showcase recent work on oracle-bone inscriptions, the field to which Professor Keightley has contributed so much. A public symposium on Friday, October 26, 2012, will honor Professor Keightley and allow people working in the field to make contact with each other. Symposium participants will have the opportunity to gather and read oracle-bone inscriptions, some of which may draw from the Huayuanzhuang corpus.


Friday, October 26, 2012

All Friday sessions are free and open to the public.

1:00 PM — Keynote Lecture

Edward Shaughnessy — David N. Keightley and the Sources of Shang History: Remarks in Celebration of His Eightieth Birthday

1:40 PM — Session One: Archaeology and Shang Civilization

Roderick Campbell — Wu Ding, Shang and the Central Plains Civilization: New Archaeological Work and its Potential

Wang Tao — Contents in Context: The Archaeology of Oracle Bones

3:20 PM — Session Two: Oracle Bones and Shang History

Adam Schwartz — Prayer in the Huayuanzhuang Oracle Bone Inscriptions

Adam Smith — Time in the Huayuanzhuang Dongdi Oracle Bones: Reconstructing the Scheduling of Shang Ritual Activity

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday sessions are by invitation only.

Closed session; readings, presentations, discussion among participants, and oracle-bone reading



Roderick Campbell, Notes from the Field: New Work at Anyang and its Potential
In the last two decades Chinese archaeology has produced a flood of new publications and an even larger backlog of unpublished work as Chinese archaeologists have struggled to keep up with the demands of double digit growth and its attendant impact on archaeological sites. In this same time, international collaborations have increased dramatically and new techniques, many borrowed from the natural sciences, have conspired to change the face of Chinese archaeology almost beyond recognition. These changes are no more apparent than at Anyang, arguably the birthplace of Chinese archaeology. This talk will focus on recent and ongoing work at Anyang and its significance for understanding the site, the Shang and, perhaps, Chinese civilization.

Adam Smith, Time in the Huayuanzhuang Dongdi Oracle Bones: Reconstructing the Scheduling of Shang Ritual Activity
Imagine trying to construct the story of the American Revolutionary War if, instead of dates like 'Fourth of July, 1776', you only had dates like 'Thursday.' There were a lot of Thursdays between the Boston Tea Party and the Treaty of Paris. That, most of the time, is what Sources of Shang History are like. True, their week was ten days, not seven, which helps. They also had another kind of week, of twelve days, that ran simultaneously to give a 60-day cycle, which helps a lot. Nevertheless, a document dated 'Day 37' still leaves us wondering which of the 1,500 Days 37 is being indicated during the period when divinations were recorded at Anyang.

One the one hand, this calendrical disability restricts the kind of history we can attempt: dramatic, destiny-fulfilling narratives don't emerge with ease from the oracle-bone record. On the other hand, the quirks of Shang time-keeping invite us to step into the organizational cycles and ritual routines of the Shang royal family and their busy entourage. The recently discovered Huayuanzhuang Dongdi inscriptions provide an unprecedentedly rich set of divination records with many dates that can be chained together to reconstruct the daily progress of royal activities at Anyang.

Adam Schwartz, Prayer in the Huayuanzhuang Oracle Bone Inscriptions
Spirit communication was a major facet of daily life in all ancient societies. While the earliest Chinese bone documents contain many words signifying modes for communicating with ancestral spirits during ritual worship events there is a severely limited account of direct dialogue. My paper introduces the earliest prayer text in both China and greater East Asia found within the newest collection of late Shang (13th c BCE) oracle bone inscriptions discovered at Huayuanzhuang East (1991; published 2003). In what is arguably the most important amongst the approximately 2500 individual divination records, a turtle shell editorially numbered HYZ 161 contains excerpts of a prayer to be uttered by a grandson to his deceased grandfather. After providing an overview of the role of prayer within the Huayuanzhuang ancestral cult, I will present a new reading of the inscription. The conclusion will not only support the view that the recipient is the 20th Shang king, Xiao Yi, but also finally give a personal identity to the invocator, whose diviners and scribes as a rule call by the honorific “our Lord.”

Edward L. Shaughnessy, David N. Keightley and the Sources of Shang History: Remarks in Celebration of His Eightieth Birthday
David N. Keightley, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California at Berkeley, author of Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China, and founding editor of the journal Early China, has for two generations been the Western world's leader in the study of early China. In these opening remarks for the conference celebrating his eightieth birthday, I will survey the manifold contributions Keightley has made to the study of early Chinese civilization, focusing in particular on his work on the oracle-bone inscriptions of China's Shang dynasty.

Wang Tao, Text in Context: The Archaeological Perspective of Oracle Bone Inscriptions
Students of Oracle Bone Inscriptions (OBI) are used to the decipherment and explication of this important divinatory record of the Shang dynasty from the 2nd millennium BCE in China. In my paper, I will consider the 'context' of the physical circumstances in which they were found, as well as the social and intellectual mellieu surrounding the discovery and study of OBI. According to popular myth, the first discovery of OBI was by a court official who spotted inscriptions on 'dragon bones' from a Peking pharmacy in the 19th century; and the story still obscures the true understanding of the subject. The first excavation at Yinxu in 1928, led by Dong Zuobin, was fruitful, but barely qualifies as 'modern archaeology'. Would the circumstance influence the result of Dong's study of OBI? Strictly speaking, the subsequent discoveries of the no.127 Pit, and at Xiaotun nandi, and Huayuanzhuan dongdi were all under controlled archaeology, but how much do we know about the actual process of each excavation, and the people involved? To what degree has the archaeological context impacted on the interpretation of the finds concerned? In this paper, I will look at the relationship and interactions between the microcosm of archaeological context (location, stratification) and the macro social context in which the OBI were found and studied. To interpret the text better, we need to develop a new methodology of localizing and contextualizing the OBI.



Roderick Campbell, New York University
Roderick Campbell is Assistant Professor of East Asian Archaeology at The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. Since graduating from Harvard in 2007 with a dual degree in Anthropology (Archaeology) and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (Chinese History), Professor Campbell's research has been focused on theorizing ancient social-political organization, social violence and history. With training as an archaeologist, historian and epigrapher, his work attempts to unite disparate sources of evidence with contemporary social theory. His geographical and temporal focus has been late 2nd millennium BC north China, although an interest in broader comparison and long-term change is beginning to draw him beyond Shang China. He has received numerous fellowships, awards and grants for his work including ones from the Luce Archaeology Initiative, the Chiang Ching-kuo foundation, and the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Recent publications have included an article on early complex polities for Current Anthropology and a report on the Origin of Chinese Civilization Project (with Yuan Jing) for Antiquity. He has recently finished an edited volume manuscript on "Violence and Civilization" for the Joukowsky Institute publication series and is finishing up another manuscript on the archaeology of the Chinese Bronze Age for the Cotsen Institute. Professor Campbell's current fieldwork project, a collaboration with archaeologists from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, is a zooarchaeological production analysis on what may be the world's largest collection of worked bone at Anyang, the last capital of the Shang dynasty.

Adam Schwartz, University of Chicago
Adam Schwartz is from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He graduated with a BA in English from Ithaca College and an MA in Chinese from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is currently a doctoral student in Chinese at the University of Chicago with a concentration on ancient China. His dissertation is on Shang oracle bones.

Edward Shaughnessy, University of Chicago
Edward L. Shaughnessy is the Lorraine J. and Herrlee G. Creel Distinguished Service Professor in Early Chinese Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. He is also the Director of the Creel Center for Chinese Paleography. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in Theology, and later studied Chinese classics with Aisin-Gioro Yü-yün in Taiwan. After a year of study in Japan, he started work on his PhD. in Asian Languages at Stanford University, receiving his PhD in 1983. He is interested generally in the cultural and literary history of the Zhou period, and is committed especially to the study of its archaeologically recovered textual materials, from oracle-bone and bronze inscriptions through the bamboo-strip manuscripts that have been unearthed in such breathtaking profusion in the last two decades. Recent publications include: Xing yu xiang: Zhongguo gudai wenhua shi lunwenji 興與象:中國古代文化史論文集 (Arousals and Images: Essays on Ancient Chinese Cultural History) (Shanghai: Shanghai Guji chubanshe, 2012); and Chinese Wisdom: Philosophical Insights from Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi and Other Masters (London: Duncan Baird Publishers, 2010; American edition entitled Confucian & Taoist Wisdom: Philosophical Insights from Confucius, Mencius, Laozi, Zhuangzi and Other Masters). Professor Shaughnessy is now completing a monographic study entitled "Unearthing The Changes," a survey of recently excavated manuscripts of or relating to the Yi jing. He expects to spend the next year completing a monograph in Chinese on the history of Western-language studies of Chinese unearthed texts, including chapters on oracle-bone inscriptions, bronze inscriptions, stone inscriptions and writings, and manuscripts on bamboo and silk.

Adam Smith, Assistant Professor, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Pennsylvania, and Curator of Chinese Antiquities, Penn Museum
Adam Smith has taught modern and classical Chinese language at UCLA, a course on the "Origins of Writing in China" at Stanford University, and on "Science and Religion in Early China" at Columbia. He has recently taken up a position as Assistant Professor in the department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is also Curator of Chinese Antiquities at the Museum. Smith holds an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Philosophy from Oxford, an MA in Archaeology from Peking University, and a PhD from the Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, with a dissertation entitled "Writing at Anyang: the role of the divination record in the emergence of Chinese literacy." His dissertation and his ongoing research concern the emergence and evolution of the Chinese writing system during the late second and first millennia BC, and the early literate activities with which it was associated. He is interested in institutions for scribal training, the link between incipient Chinese literacy and the recording of divination, the beginnings of textual transmission, the cognitive implications of the transition to literacy, and linguistic reconstruction of the early stages of the Chinese language. His recent publications include: "The Evidence for Scribal Training at Anyang" in Writing and Literacy in Early China, edited by Li Feng and David Branner, University of Washington Press, 2011; "The Chinese Sexagenary Cycle and the Ritual Origins of the Calendar" in Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World, edited by John M. Steele. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2011; and "Are Writing Systems Intelligently Designed?" in Early Writing and Agency in Archaelogy, edited by Joshua Englehardt, University Press of Colorado (forthcoming). Currently, he is working on a book entitled "Diviners and Scribes: Early Chinese Divination and its Written Record."

Wang Tao, SOAS, University of London
Wang Tao is a Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He studied at the Yunnan Teachers' University, Kunming and the Postgraduate School of the Chinese Academy of Arts, Beijing, before obtaining his PhD from SOAS in 1993, where he has remained since. His research interests and publications have focused on traditional and contemporary archaeological practice in China, oracle bone inscriptions and Chinese calligraphy.



The conference — Sources of Shang History: New Discoveries and Advances in Chinese Archaeology and Paleography - A Symposium in Honor of the Eightieth Birthday of David Keightley — will be held at the Institute of East Asian Studies – 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor conference room

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