possible Western cultural innovations in early China

Here’s another just-released issue from the archives of Sino-Platonic Papers: Western Cultural Innovations in China, 1200 B.C. (July 1989), by Edward L. Shaughnessy of the University of Chicago.

It begins:

In a recent article on the history of the chariot in China, I attempted to show that a West Asian prototype was introduced to the Bronze Age Shang culture of the north China plain at about 1200 B.C. I used archaeological evidence, both artifactual and figured, to suggest that the route of transmission lay across the broad plains of Central Asia and the south Siberian steppe, passing finally through the grasslands and loess plateau of Mongolia, Ningxia and northern Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces, the area traditionally referred to as the Ordos. In the course of tracing this transmission of the chariot, I discovered several other innovations in the Shang culture of this time that seemed to be introduced from the same general direction. In this brief note I will simply mention, without attempting to provide complete substantiation, the most notable of these innovations, in the hope that this may stimulate consideration of the possibility that even in antiquity Chinese culture was greatly enriched through its contacts with the West.

The entire text is now online for free as a 790 KB PDF.

One thought on “possible Western cultural innovations in early China

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *