A leading scholar in the United States on Chinese archaeology challenges long-standing conceptions of the rise of political authority in ancient China. Questioning Marx’s concept of an “Asiatic” mode of production, Wittfogel’s “hydraulic hypothesis,” and cultural-materialist theories on the importance of technology, K. C. Chang builds an impressive counterargument, one which ranges widely from recent archaeological discoveries to studies of mythology, ancient Chinese poetry, and the iconography of Shang food vessels.
The general reader as well as the specialist will appreciate the book’s clear discussion of many details, including the description of zoomorphic designs. Chang’s interdisciplinary interpretive approach and well-balanced illustrations make this book an important addition to the study of China’s early civilization.
This excellent little book offers one approach to an overall treatment of ancient Chinese society within a time span embracing the Three Dynasties… The picture of ancient China which emerges from this brief yet powerful synthesis is strikingly cohesive.
The value of these short essays lies in their cross-disciplinary perspective, in the freshness of some of the ideas, and in the juxtaposition of the elements of the analysis… [They] result in new perspectives on old issues: especially the roles of myth, writing, and marriage patterns in early Chinese political culture.
- 160 pages
- 6 x 9 inches
- Harvard University Press
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