Tang Center Symposia

Art and Archaeology of the Erligang

An international symposium

26-27 April 2008, 9:00 am-5:30 pm
101 McCormick Hall, Princeton University

Organized by the P.Y. and Kinmay W. Tang Center for East Asian Art

symposium Program

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 schedule

Saturday, 26 April 2008
101 McCormick Hall


Registration and coffee, 8:30-9:30 a.m.



Jerome Silbergeld

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

Princeton University


Morning Session 9:30-12:30

The Erligang Civilization

Chair: Kyle Steinke, Princeton University


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


Discussant: Alain Thote, Directeur d'Etudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris

Afternoon Session 2:00-5:30

Erligang in Anthropological and Comparative Perspective

Chair: Magnus Fiskesjö, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University


Erligang in Regional and Diachronic Context

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

Discussant: 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

Discussant: John Baines, Professor of Egyptology, University of Oxford

Sunday, 27 April 2008
101 McCormick Hall

Morning Session 9:30-12:30

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


Erligang and the Southern Bronze Industries

Kyle Steinke, Ph.D. candidate, Princeton University

Discussant: 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


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