China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This presentation will employ the agency theory in archaeology to discuss how artifacts, particularly bronzes of different styles, were manipulated by individuals in the emergence of political power in the northeastern frontier of ancient China. Discussions will focus on three richly furnished burials of the Upper Xiajiadian Culture (c.1000-600 BCE) centered in southeastern Inner Mongolia: M101 at Nanshan’gen and M8501 and M9601 at Xiaoheishigou. Three types of bronzes can be identified from the tombs: imported Zhou capital style vessels, bronze weapons and horse ornaments featured with mixed Zhou and northern frontier style, and distinctive locally made bronzes based on indigenous pottery types. Examinations of style, assemblage and use of bronzes in these tombs indicate that material symbols were intentionally selected to mark off the prestige and authority of individual elites. This study will demonstrate the vibrant role artifacts played in the increasing complexity of the Upper Xiajiadian societies and the interactions between the Zhou from the Central Plain and frontier communities.