April 26–27, 2008
Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization
9 00 am
5 30 pm
101 McCormick Hall
9 30 am
12 30 pm
101 McCormick Hall
Organized by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art

Named after a type site discovered at Zhengzhou in 1951, the Erligang civilization arose in the Yellow River valley around the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. Shortly thereafter its distinctive elite material culture spread to a large part of China’s central plain, in the south reaching as far as the banks of the Yangzi. Source of most of the cultural achievements familiarly associated with the more famous Anyang site, the Erligang culture is best known for the Zhengzhou remains, a smaller city at Panlongcheng in Hubei, and a large-scale bronze industry of remarkable artistic and technological sophistication. Bronzes are the hallmark of Erligang elite material culture. They are also the archaeologist’s main evidence for understanding the transmission of bronze metallurgy to the cultures of southern China.

This symposium brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore what is known about the Erligang culture and its art, its spectacular bronze industry in particular. Participants will ask how the Erligang artistic and technological tradition was formed and how we should understand its legacy to the later cultures of north and south China. Comparison with other ancient civilizations will afford an important perspective.


Symposium Program

Saturday, 26 April 2008

101 McCormick Hall

Registration and coffee
8:30–9:30 am


Jerome Silbergeld

Director, Tang Center and P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Professor of Chinese Art History, Princeton University

Morning Session

The Erligang Civilization

Chair: Kyle Steinke, Princeton University
9:30 am–12:30 pm

Erligang Bronzes and the Discovery of the Erligang Culture

Robert Bagley

Professor of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University

Erligang Bronzes: A Perspective from Panlongcheng

Zhang Changping

Deputy Director, Hubei Provincial Museum


Alain Thote

Directeur d’Etudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Afternoon Session

Erligang in Anthropological and Comparative Perspective

Chair: Magnus Fiskesjö, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University
2:00–5:30 pm

Erligang in Regional and Diachronic Context

Rod Campbell

Visiting Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University


Li Yung-ti

Research Fellow, Academia Sinica

China’s First Empire? Interpreting the Material Record of the Erligang Culture

Wang Haicheng

Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Chinese Studies, University of California, Berkeley


John Baines

Professor of Egyptology, University of Oxford

Sunday, 27 April 2008

101 McCormick Hall

Morning Session

The Artistic Legacy of the Erligang Bronze Industry

Chair: Jay Xu, Pritzker Chairman of the Department of Asian and Ancient Art, Art Institute of Chicago
9:30 am–12:30 pm

Erligang and the Southern Bronze Industries

Kyle Steinke

Ph.D. candidate, Princeton University


Robin McNeal

Associate Professor of Chinese History, Language, and Literature, Cornell University

Bronzes and the History of Chinese Art

Maggie Bickford

Professor of the History of Art and Architecture, Brown University

Closing Remarks

Jay Xu

Art Institute of Chicago