Camilla Maria Sturm

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 10041

Approve Date

September 2, 2020

Project Title

Sturm, Camilla (Columbia U.) "A View from Below: Modeling Ceramic Production in a Shang Village"

The Shang polity (1600 – 1050 BCE) of China’s Central Plains is considered one of the world’s great early civilizations. Nearly a century of excavations of elite Shang tombs and palace-temples have recovered an impressive array of ceremonial bronzes, elaborate jades, and oracle bones used in royal divinations. A near exclusive focus on elite material culture has fueled the view that Shang was a ritually powerful but economically underdeveloped polity. Yet, results of recent studies of craft production at the Late Shang capital of Anyang tell a different tale – that the Shang economy was considerably more complex and well-integrated than previously expected. This project will investigate the Shang political economy from the perspective of Guandimiao, a rural village at the edge of Shang territory. Guandimiao is the only Shang village excavated to date and its residents appear to have been intensively involved in pottery production. Using physical, chemical, and mineralogical analyses of pottery sampled from 15 loci associated with production or consumption, this project will characterize the pottery industry at Guandimiao to determine the degree to which production was organized at a local level, independently of state control, or centrally managed and embedded in Shang political economy.