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1st Edition

Weapons in Late Shang (c.1250-1050 BCE) China Beyond Typology and Ritual

By Qin Cao Copyright 2023
    ISBN 9780367630775
    256 Pages 69 B/W Illustrations
    Published September 21, 2022 by Routledge

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    Original Price $170.00
    Sale Price USD $136.00
    ISBN 9781003112044
    256 Pages 69 B/W Illustrations
    Published September 20, 2022 by Routledge

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    Weapons in Late Shang (c.1250-1050 BCE) China: Beyond Typology and Ritual explores the large quantities of bronze and jade weapons, such as dagger-axes, spears and arrows, found at the World Heritage site of Yinxu, the late Shang capital located near today’s Anyang city in central China.

    Qin Cao’s innovative research presents new insights into these weapons, moving beyond perceptions of them being primarily symbols of power and rank. Through the lens of weapons, this book argues for the significance of martial prowess and leadership within late Shang society. The author considers Shang weapons from an object biographical perspective, tracing their life histories for the first time. This book synthesises archaeological data, scientific analyses, and inscriptions on oracle bones and bronzes, uncovering a more nuanced understanding of the complex roles weapons played in society. What traces of evidence can be detected on weapons that demonstrate their ability to cause bodily harm? Why were tens of thousands of weapons placed in tombs? What led to certain individuals, including high-ranking royal females, being buried with weapons?

    This book will be of interest to academics, students (both undergraduates and postgraduates), and researchers in archaeology, particularly those focused on China, East Asia, or comparative studies, as well as a more general readership in Chinese archaeology.

    1 An Object Biography Approach to Shang Weapons; 2 The Shang, the Anyang Site and Weaponry; 3 The Rebirth of Late Shang Weapons in the Context of Archaeological Practices; 4 Metalwork Wear Analysis of Shang Weapons; 5 Forming Shang Weapons; 6 Providing for the Deceased: Weaponry Assemblages in Tombs and their Previous "Lives"; 7 Weapons in Late Shang Society; Chinese Glossary; Appendix E: Distribution of Weapons in Elite Tombs’ Coffins; Appendix F: An Inventory of Fuhao tomb, Huayuanzhuang M54, Guojiazhuang M160 and Xibeigang M1004; Appendix G: Tombs with Weapons from 2004 Dasikong Area and 2003-2004 Xiaomintun Area; Appendix H: Chariots with Bronze and/or Bone Weapons.


    Dr Qin Cao is the Curator of Chinese collections at the Oriental Museum, Durham University. She specializes in Chinese Bronze Age archaeology and numismatics, and completed her DPhil on Chinese Shang dynasty weapons at the University of Oxford in collaboration with the British Museum (Arts and Humanities Research Council Collaborative Doctoral Awards).

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