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Vigo, Laura (2004) Cultural diffusion and identity : Material culture in Northwest China--II and I millennia BCE. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Chinese North-western Zone designates the border areas of Northern China, including Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi and Shanxi, inhabited by semi-nomadic and nomadic groups in prehistoric times. The term denotes a broad geographic horizon conceivable as a multitude of cultural phenomena sharing a common material 'language', yet inferences on ethnic affiliation have been hitherto poorly grounded and difficult to ascertain. This work attempts to clarify some of the cultural phenomena occurred in the area, through a contextualised analysis of the available archaeological material. A methodological framework placing proto-historical material culture into 'context' is first enunciated and then employed in the investigation of various aspects of material expression belonging to different 'cultural horizons', from Siba-Huoshaogou, Yanbulake, Zhukaigou, Shajing and Chawuhu, to Alagou, Yanglang and Ordos. The data thus exposed provide clues on funerary behaviour, on patterns of consumption and social constructs, on stylistic and typological variation in ceramic productions, on metals and their social role, on craft specialisations and artistic expressions. Not only bronze and pottery objects are analysed from the stylistic and - when possible - the technological point of view, but also their relationship with 'alternative' types of material evidence (such as various perishable media) and with the contingent space are considered. Attention is further devoted to artefactual productions, ranging from bronze and iron casting to gold and silver metal-smithing. In the absence of contemporary written sources, the bulk of information comes primarily from archaeological reports. Yet manifold are the lines of evidence gathered. All these elements eventually contribute not only to discriminate similar modes of social negotiation such as gender and authority, indirectly reflecting expressions of ethnical affiliation, but also to assess both the degree of conscious cultural interaction and the extent of demic diffusion between Central Asia, Southern Siberia and China during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:02

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