Archaeology of the Kitans, ca. 900–1130


Over the past four decades a number of sensational archaeological finds have drawn scholarly attention to the long neglected Kitan-Liao Empire in northern China. The finds show that the nomadic, non-Chinese Kitan ruling elite built a so-phisticated and unique court culture by adapting both Chinese and Turkic models. The rise of the Kitan Empire not only reshaped the power structure of Manchuria and Mongolia, it also redefined the self-understanding of intellectuals of the neighboring Song dynasty in central and southern China. Focusing on excavated tombs and pagodas of the Kitan imperial family, this seminar examines Liao, Five Dynasties, and Song notions of cultural and political identity and cultural exchange. Materials to be explored include luxury goods such as silk and silver, ceramics, imported glass, tomb murals, and some Buddhist art. We will also look for potential connections between Liao power and the rise of Song antiquarian learning. 3 credits. Satisfies the non-Western or Pre-1800 requirement.