Shimao and the Rise of States in China Archaeology, Historiography, and Myth

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The Shimao site, located in northeastern Shaanxi Province, is the focus of some of the most exciting work being done in Chinese archaeology today. Since 2012, the site has been included several times in the list of the most important discoveries of Chinese archaeology and was even selected by the first Shanghai Archaeology Forum as one of the top 10 archaeological discoveries in the world. Because of its unique nature and the exemplary work being done by its excavators, Shimao could have formed the basis of a new focus on systematic fieldwork and rigorous model building. Instead, the excavation of Shimao has been subsumed in traditional narratives that have supported linear views of history and thrown focus especially on its relationship to the emergence of dynastic China in the Central Plains. We will argue here, rather, that another approach would be to see the Shimao center as the core of a regional trajectory that is parallel, but not necessarily tied, to the developments in the Central Plains.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)95-117
Number of pages23
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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