POUGHKEEPSIE, NY—Archaeologist Rowan K. Flad of Harvard University will deliver the lecture “Divination and Power: The Development of Oracle Bone Divination and Other Human-Animal Interaction in Early China” on Tuesday, November 23, at 5:00pm in Sanders Classroom, Spitzer Auditorium (room 212). Free and open to the public, this event is sponsored by the Vassar Anthropology Department as well as the Asian Studies Program, the Chinese and Japanese Department, and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.
According to Flad, animals were an important source of political power in ancient China during the early Bronze Age. His talk will examine archaeological evidence for two types of ritual activities that involved animals in the Shang Dynasty: divination and sacrifice. Both divination using animal bones and animal sacrifice started during the Late Neolithic in north China and became increasingly specialized over the course of the Early Bronze Age. By the period of the Shang Dynasty, “oracle bone divination” had become a crucial source of power used by the high elite in the Central Plains of north China. Flad will examine the ways that the Shang developed such previously existing institutions to form the foundation of Chinese civilization.
Poughkeepsie native Rowan Flad is an associate professor in the department of anthropology at Harvard University. He received his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the Interdisciplinary Program in Archaeology in 2004, and has worked extensively conducting fieldwork in the Sichuan Basin, including the Three Gorges, as well as in the United States, Spain, and Turkey. He is the author or co-author of more than a dozen articles in peer-reviewed journals in English and Chinese, and the co-editor of Rethinking “Specialized” Production: Archaeological Analyses of the Social Meaning of Manufacture, Vol. 17, Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association. He is also first author of the forthcoming Ancient Central China: An Archaeological Study of Centers and Peripheries along the Yangzi River from Sichuan through the Three Gorges (Cambridge University Press).
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Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.