1st Edition

Liangzhu Culture Society, Belief, and Art in Neolithic China

Edited By Bin Liu, Ling Qin Copyright 2020
    258 Pages 163 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    258 Pages 163 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Liangzhu Culture (3,300-2,300 BC) represented the peak of prehistoric cultural and social development in the Yangtze Delta. With a wide sphere of influence centred near present-day Hangzhou City, Liangzhu City is considered one of the earliest urban centres in prehistoric China. Although it remains a mystery for many in the West, Liangzhu is well known in China for its fine jade-crafting industry; its enormous, well-structured earthen palatial compound and recently discovered hydraulic system; and its far-flung impact on contemporary and succeeding cultures. The archaeological ruins of Liangzhu City were added to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in July 2019.

    Liangzhu Culture contextualises Liangzhu in broad socio-economic and cultural backgrounds and provides new, first-hand data to help explain the development and structure of this early urban centre. Among its many insights, the volume reveals how elites used jade as a means of acquiring social power, and how Liangzhu and its centre stand in comparison to other prehistoric urban centres in the world.

    This book, the first of its kind published in the English language, will be a useful guide to students at all levels interested in the material culture and social structures of prehistoric China and beyond.





    Chapter One: Situating the Liangzhu Culture in Late Neolithic China: An Introduction

    Chapter Two: The Liangzhu City: New Discoveries and Research

    Chapter Three: Power and Belief: Reading the Liangzhu Jade and Society

    Chapter Four: A Controlled Fine Craft: Jade Production Techniques in the Liangzhu Culture

    Chapter Five: From the ‘Songze Style’ to the ‘Liangzhu Mode’

    Chapter Six: Shamanistic, Historic and Virtuous Jade: Continuity and Change in Early Chinese Jade Traditions


    List of Historical Records




    Liu Bin is Professor and Director of Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. He has joined or directed excavations at the Fanshan, Yaoshan, Huiguanshan, and Nanhebang sites, and the Liangzhu City since 1985. His main research interests include the prehistory of the Lower Yangtze River and the archaeology of jade.

    Qin Ling is Associate Professor of Neolithic Archaeology and Archaeobotany at the School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, Beijing. Her research interests include scientific research on Neolithic jades in Eastern China, early agricultural developments in the Lower Yangtze River and Southwest China, and comparative perspective on civilisational discourses across East Asia. 

    Zhuang Yijie is Associate Professor in Chinese Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He applies geoarchaeological approaches to reconstruct ecologies of early agriculture and long-term land use changes in East, South and Southeast Asia. He is also interested in the comparison of diverse trajectories to social complexity in these regions.