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A New Approach to the Chronology of Caves 268/272/275 in the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes: Combining Radiocarbon Dates and Archaeological Information within a Bayesian Statistical Framework

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2018

Qinglin Guo
Affiliation:
Institute of Conservation, Dunhuang Academy, Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang, Gansu Province 736200, China
Richard A Staff
Affiliation:
Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), University of Glasgow, Glasgow G75 0QF, United Kingdom
Chun Lu
Affiliation:
Shandong University of Finance and Economics Library, Jinan, Shandong Province 250014, China
Cheng Liu
Affiliation:
School of Cultural Heritage, Northwest University, Xi’an 710069, China
Michael Dee
Affiliation:
Centre for Isotope Research, ESRIG, University of Groningen, Groningen 9712 CP, The Netherlands
Ying Chen
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom
A Mark Pollard
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom
Jessica Rawson
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom
Bomin Su
Affiliation:
Institute of Conservation, Dunhuang Academy, Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang, Gansu Province 736200, China
Ruiliang Liu
Affiliation:
School of Archaeology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 2PG, United Kingdom
Corresponding

Abstract

The construction chronology of three of the earliest Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes (Caves 268, 272, and 275) has been the subject of ongoing debate for over half a century. This chronology is a crucial topic in terms of further understanding of the establishment of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, early Buddhism in the Gansu corridor, and its relationship with Buddhism developed in the Central Plains. Building upon archaeological, art historical and radiocarbon (14C) dating studies, we integrate new 14C data with these previously published findings utilizing Bayesian statistical modeling to improve the chronological resolution of this issue. Thus, we determine that all three of these caves were constructed around AD 410–440, suggesting coeval rather than sequential construction.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2018 by the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona 

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