The strength of Columbia’s program in Chinese archaeology lies in the study of the Bronze-Age, with focuses particularly on settlement archaeology, interregional cultural relations, and the studies of bronzes and ceramics. The programs sees archaeology as a discipline with a broad scope and diverse practices adapting to regional natural and cultural perimeters, a discipline that is integrally related to and complementary with both the study of history (as both are ways to understand the human past), and with anthropology (as both are ways to understand patterns of human behavior). Columbia’s program in Chinese archaeology has grown together with the Guicheng archeological survey and excavation project, jointly conducted with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing), and the Shandong Provincial Institute of Archaeology in 2006-2011. The project trained many students from both Columbia and beyond in archaeological fieldwork and led to researches related to the region or the period. Current work under the project includes most importantly the compilation of the survey and excavation data in an official bilingual monograph titled, Guicheng: A Study of the Formation of States on the Jiaodong Peninsula in Late Bronze-Age China, 1000-500 BCE.
Professor Li Feng offers both introductory courses in Chinese archaeology and graduate seminars in Zhou period archaeology as well as specialized courses in the study of bronzes and ceramics. These are further complemented by courses that analyze inscriptions and bamboo or wooden manuscripts originating from recent archaeological excavations (taught either by Professor Guo Jue or Professor Li Feng). We advise students who are interested in but not limited to any of the following subject areas: the rise of complex societies and states, settlement organization, archaeology of political economy, burial and social contexts, interregional cultural relations, bronzes, ceramics etc.
The program operates in close connection to Columbia’s Department of Anthropology, the Department of Art History and Archaeology, and the Columbia Center for Archaeology. MA students of Chinese archaeology are encouraged to take theoretical and methodological courses in anthropology. PhD students are expected for more substantial work with Columbia’s anthropologists and archaeologists of other World regions. In this regard, Columbia’s archaeology-anthropology continuum is characterized by its strong interests in the archaeology of political economy, formation of states and empires, archaeology of semiotics, burial custom and social practice, and American-southwestern archaeology. The program also maintains strong ties with many archaeological institutions and programs in China.
The Columbia Center for Archaeology: