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Corinne Debaine-Francfort, Du Néolithique à l'Âge du Bronze en Chine du Nord-Ouest: La culture de Qijia et ses connexions. Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique Française en Asie Centrale, volume VI. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilizations, 1995. 435 pp.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 March 2015

Louisa G. Fitzgerald-Huber*
Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138


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Copyright © Society for the Study of Early China 1997

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1. The list of abbreviations on p. 377 should have included XBSD (Xibei shi di 西北史地) and QHKGXHHK (Qinghai kaogu xuehui huikan 青海考古學會會刊), which are cited in the bibliography only in abbreviated form.

2. The Inner Mongolian site of Zhukaigou 朱開溝 in Ejinhoro 伊金霍洛 is omitted from the Catalogue, although it is mentioned in the text (see especially p. 315, n. 695). Qijia-type ceramic vessels have been found in levels II and III at Zhukaigou, along with others characteristic of the Kexingzhuang II tradition. Level III also yielded a few small metal artifacts (Guangjin, Tian 田廣金, “Nei Menggu Zhukaigou yizhi” 內蒙古朱開溝遺址, Kaogu xuebao 考古學報 1988.3, 317Google Scholar).

3. Keshengzhuang is apparently the correct rendition of this place name. The form “Kexingzhuang,” which is the most common Western language transcription and the one employed by Debaine-Francfort, is retained in this review to avoid confusion.

4. Note, however, that the author expresses reservations about whether Gamatai can be securely identified as a Qijia site (pp. 170—71, 226).

5. The general conclusion at the end of the text mentions twelve variables (p. 344), but the number of variables listed on p. 192 is actually eleven.

6. Debaine-Francfort points out that the repertory of jade objects unearthed from the Qijia burials is much more limited than at the eastern Longshan sites or at Shimao 石節 in northern Shaanxi (pp. 267, 317). Recent discoveries in the Lintao 臨挑 area indicate that the nephrite used to fashion the Qijia bi and huang 璃 may have come from local sources (Wen Guang 聞廣, private correspondance, May 31, 1997). With the exception of the cowries found at Liuwan, the Qijia sites provide little evidence for long-distance trade (p. 346).

7. Although M 48 is indeed located at the center of the excavated area at Huangniangniangtai, it is not clear what its position would be if the entire site had been uncovered. See also n. 4 above regarding Gamatai.

8. The size of the grave pits, poorly documented in the site reports, seems to show no strong correlation with the quantity of grave goods within the burial—with the obvious exception of double and triple burials, which are larger to accommodate the additional individuals (pp. 211—14, 216).

9. Debaine-Francfort adds that the case for intra-communal warfare is all the more difficult to make because weapons (arrowheads and lance points), often found in comparable Longshan burials in the east, are lacking from those at Huangniangniangtai (p. 265). Yet it seems hardly likely that prisoners taken in war, as opposed to one's own war dead, would be buried with weapons. She also points out that the ventral burials frequent at the Gamatai cemetery may be those of an ethnically different population group rather than those of slaves (pp. 225–26, 265).

10. A new contribution to this topic by Li, Liu, “Mortuary Ritual and Social Hierarchy in the Longshan Culture,” Early China 21 (1996), 146CrossRefGoogle Scholar, has been published since the completion of the present review.

11. The reader may also wish to consult the diagram in dui, Qinghai sheng wenwu guanlichu kaogu and kaogu, Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan, Qinghai Liuwan 青海柳灣 (Beijing: Wenwu, 1984), vol. 1, 244–45Google Scholar, illustrating the evolution of ceramic forms and painted decor from the Banshan, Machang, and Qijia phases at Liuwan.

12. A second formulation of this view occurs later in the text: “Sur certains [Qijia] sites cependant, la liaison semble s'être faite non pas avec la culture de Majiayao elle-même, mais avec une ou des traditions culturelles encore mal identifiées, qui pourrai(en)t être l'une ou plusieurs de ses [Majiayao] variantes locales; nous pensons en particulier à Anban III [案板三期] et à Changshan” (p. 344).

13. The author remarks upon a semblance between the “vestiges … plus anciens” at Changshan and the Banshan-Machang traditions (pp. 295–96, n. 649), but at the same time she notes without further comment Ma Jianhua's 馬建華 assertion that “Changshan se situe dans la continuité du type culturel de Shilingxia 石嶺峽 …” (p. 295, n. 647).

14. Rectangular bone plaques were also found at Liuwan in a Machang context, but they are narrower and have fewer notches than the Banshan examples or those from Dianhe (compare Qinghai Liuwan, vol. 1, 168, Figs. 26–28Google Scholar; vol. 2, Pl. 66, lowermost figure: 1, 6,10).

15. The suggestion that the painted decor occasionally seen on Changshan vessels reflects the influence of Machang is not entirely persuasive because the designs (straight horizontal bands, or in one instance a simple cross) are too generic in kind to be securely tied to any particular pottery tradition (p. 39, Fig, 16: 1, 5; p. 284).

16. The Banshan vessel at Dianhe was found in M 2 accompanied by several Changshan-type guan (p. 173, Fig. 112: 2–3, 7). M 35 at Waguanzui contained three Changshan vessels in addition to the Banshan example (p. 178, Fig. 117: 4, 6, 8–9).

17. Qinghai Liuwan, vol. 2, Pl. 152: 1Google Scholar.

18. The independence of the Changshan tradition from Banshan seems assured, but its own origins are difficult to pinpoint. A possible prototype for at least one Changshan vessel—the tall storage jar—occurs in the Shilingxia level (stratum 4) at the Shizhaocun 師趙村 site in Tianshui 田水 (compare the example from Changshan and another from the Ningxia site of Dianhe, illustrated in Kaogu yu wenwu 考古與文物19803, Pl. 3:2, and in Debaine-Francfort's text on p. 173, Fig. 112:5, with the Shizhaocun vessel seen in Kaogu 考古 1990.7, 581, Fig. 7:4Google Scholar).

19. In all, ten out of twelve Qijia vessels are credited to Changshan. The third diagnostic Qijia vessel (C on Table 47, described on p. 283 as a guan with two handles and a tall neck) can be added to the Changshan checklist if the absence of handles on the Changshan examples is discounted (p. 40, Fig. 17: 9 and p. 173, Fig. 112: 5). This tall storage vessel, usually called a weng 獲 or hu 壺, is comparable to its Qijia counterpart in general appearance, and its surfaces are similarly covered by cord impressions from the shoulder downward (compare p. 148, Fig. 96: 3–4 [Liuwan]; p. 123, Fig. 73: 1–2 [Huangniangniangtai]; p. 90, Fig. 53: 1–2 [Qinweijia]; p. 67, Fig. 33: 9–10 [Dahezhuang]). The Changshan version is wider in diameter relative to its height when compared to the Qijia vessels, but this feature need not disqualify it as a putative forerunner of the Qijia examples, because if one adheres to Debaine-Francfort's periodization of the Qijia sites, this vessel type is seen to become progressively more slender with the passage of time.

20. I was interested to find that an independent study of my own into the periodization of the Qijia sites led to precisely the same conclusion, albeit my analysis relied chiefly on the evolution of ceramic forms and was based on a far less extensive range of criteria (see Fitzgerald-Huber, Louisa G., “Qijia and Erlitou: The Question of Contacts with Distant Cultures,” Early China 20 [1995], 37—38, n. 53CrossRefGoogle Scholar).

21. Although Hu Qianying regards Qijia as a continuation and development of the Changshan Lower culture, he opposes the view of Chen Yu 陳登 and Hong Fang 洪方 that Changshan should be considered merely as an early phase of Qijia. He is especially mindful of the time gap between these two cultures and recognizes that the actual relationship between them cannot be fully understood until future excavations tell us more about what transpired during this time (see Qianying, Hu, “Shilun Qijia wenhua de butong leixing jiqi yuan liu” 試論齊家文化的不同類型及其原流, Kaogu yu wenwu 1980.3, 8081Google Scholar; and Da Longdong Zhenyuan Changshan xiaceng yicun qianxi” 答隴東鎭原常山下層遺存淺析, Kaogu 1991.3, 238Google Scholar).

22. The inventory of metal artifacts from the Qijia sites continues to expand. To the fifty-two pieces noted by Debaine-Francfort can now be added twelve newly published items from Xinzhuangping 新庄坪, Jishishan 積石山, near Linxia 臨夏. They include five rings, each roughly 6 cm in diameter; six hemispherical objects, each with a diameter of 2 cm; and the fragment of a knife (Jianwei, Jia 賈建威, “Gansu Jishishanxian Xinzhuangping Qijia wenhua yizhi diaocha” 甘肅積石山縣新庄平齊家文物遺址調查, Kaogu 1996.11, 51, Fig. 6: 1–2, 4Google Scholar).

23. A few minor discrepancies occur between the passages where the objects are initially described and the subsequent list. The number of awls from Huangniangniangtai is given as fifteen on p. 119, but as fourteen on p. 320; a ring from this site listed on p. 320 is not mentioned earlier. The result of the metallurgical analysis of a copper fragment from Dahezhuang (T 30:27) is incorrectly applied on p. 320 to a metal bi 'spoon’ (TF: 7) from the same site (see p. 63). A new study of the Qijia and other early Gansu metal implements with regard to their metallurgical content and manufacturing techniques appears in Shuyun, Sun 孫淑雲 and Rubin, Han 韓汝扮, “Gansu zaoqi tongqi de faxian yu yelian zhizao jishu de yanjiu” 甘肅早期銅器的發現與冶煉制造技術的研究, Wenwu 文物 1997.7, 7584Google Scholar.

24. See, for example, Chernykh, E.N., Ancient Metallurgy in the USSR: The Early Metal Age, trans. Wright, Sarah (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), p. 222, Fig. 76: 2,3Google Scholar; Chernykh, E.N. and Kuzminykh, S.V., Drevnyaya Metallurgiya Severnoi Evrazii (Moscow: Nauka, 1989), p. 56, Fig. 18:1, 5Google Scholar.

25. The Qijiaping mirror is presumably the same one mentioned by Zhimin, An 安志敏, “Zhongguo zaoqi qingtongqi de jige wenti” 中國早期青銅器的幾個問題, Kaogu xuebao 1981.3, 278Google Scholar.

26. Fitzgerald-Huber, , “Qijia and Erlitou,” 5359Google Scholar.

27. It is commonly assumed that metallurgy was practiced at the Qijia settlements and that the metal artifacts are not exclusively the result of trade. It should be pointed out, however, that so far neither workshops nor smelting kilns have been uncovered at these sites.

28. See, for instance, Mallory, J.P., In Search of the Indo-Europeans (London: Thames and Hudson, 1989), pp. 179–81 and 242–43Google Scholar.

29. Fitzgerald-Huber, , “Qijia and Erlitou,” 2467Google Scholar.

30. Shuicheng, Li, “Siba wenhua yanjiu,” 四壩文化硏究 in Kaoguxue wenhua lunji 考古學文化論集, ed. Bingqi, Su 蘇秉琦 (Beijing: Wenwu, 1993), 80121Google Scholar.

31. Shuicheng, Li, “Siba wenhua yanjiu,” 104, Fig. 8Google Scholar, provides a map of the Siba distribution.

32. Shuicheng, Li, “Siba wenhua yanjiu,” 105–6Google Scholar.

33. Shuicheng, Li, “Siba wenhua yanjiu,” 117–18Google Scholar.

34. Also see Shuicheng, Li, “Siba wenhua yanjiu,” Fig. 7 (opposite p. 102)Google Scholar; 111, Fig. 12.

35. Recent articles on the Xindian and Qiayao cultures appear in Kaoguxue wenhua lunji, ed. Bingqi, Su, 122203Google Scholar.

36. The author's comment that, “Peut-être faut-il voir aussi dans la petite taille des récipients Qijia et post-Qijia, et dans la disparition des grandes jarres de stockage typiques des groupes culturels de Shilingxia, Majiayao, Banshan et Machang, une annonce de ce même changement” (p. 341), should perhaps be modified in regard to Xindian and Siwa where at least some storage jars of large capacity are retained (see, for example, dui, Qinghai sheng wenwu kaogu, Qinghai caitao 青海彩陶 [Beijing: Wenwu, 1980], no. 177Google Scholar; and Andersson, J.G., “Researches into the Prehistory of the Chinese,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 15 [1943], Pl. 143 [K 5566]Google Scholar).

37. See the three articles by Deyong, Guo德勇 “Gansu Dongxiang Linjia yizhi fajue baogao” 甘肅東鄉林家遺址發掘報告, Kaoguxue jikan 考古學集刊 4 (1984) 129, Fig. 17: 20–22Google Scholar, and 131, Fig. 18; Yongchang Yuanyangchi xinshiqi shidai mudi de fajue” 永昌鴛鴦池新石器時代墓地的發掘, Kaogu 1974.5, 304, Fig. 10 and Pl. 5: 1Google Scholar; and Gansu Yongchang Yuanyangchi xinshiqi shidai mudi” 甘肅永昌紫鴦池新石器時代墓地, Kaogu xuebao 1982.2, 209, Fig. 17:14 and Pl. 16:1–3Google Scholar. Debaine-Francfort (p. 295, n. 646) refers to Yun Xiang's 云翔 article on the subject of these composite implements (Shilun shidao guqi” 試論石刀骨器, Kaogu 1988.9, 825–33Google Scholar). She comments that microlithic implements found at Changshan and at some Qijia sites are attested only in regions peripheral to the fringes of the steppe and that they probably reveal more about the way of life at these settlements than they do about their chronologi cal position (p. 290). Although she believes that the microlithic implements from the Qijia sites represent “éléments archaïques” (p. 327), it may be best to leave open the possibility that they might also indicate continuing contact with northern steppe groups.

38. The author herself deplores the virtual absence of published analyses of the human skeletal remains from the Qijia burial grounds (p. 197).