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The Provenance of Chinese Ancient Proto-celadon

Organisational Units
Natural Sciences and Technology in Art
Location Description
Room EA1
Location Venue (1)
Main Building
Location Address (1)
Schillerplatz 3
Location ZIP and/or City (1)
1010 Vienna

Lecture by Prof. Changsui Wang, Graduate University, Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing, organized by the Institute for Natural Sciences and Technology in the Arts.

There were two absolutely different opinions about the provenance for Chinese ancient proto-celadon. Some experts protested that Chinese proto-celadon was produced only in southern China during Shang-Zhou dynasties. The bases were as follows:

  1. The majority of proto-celadon was unearthed in southern China during Shang-Zhou dynasties;
  2. During that time, the kiln, in which the firing temperature could reach above 1200°C, hasn't been found in north China;
  3. Porcelain clay resources usually distributed in southern China, but Kaolin clay resources located in northern China. The raw material for proto-celadon is porcelain clay.
  4. The result from Cluster analysis seems of benefit to this opinion.

Few experts considered that that Chinese proto-celadon was produced not only in southern China, but also in northern China during Shang-Zhou dynasties. They pointed out that a lot of proto-celadon with local cultural style was excavated in Shangcheng site of Zhengzhou including some which were damaged in firing process. While we investigated Chinese proto- celadon, it was easy to be found that the number of proto-celadon unearthed in northern China was a little more than that in southern China during early Shang, despite the number of proto-celadon found in Southern China during entire Shang-Zhou dynasties was much more than that in northern China. At the same time, it was also easy to be understood that the quality of proto-celadon unearthed from Wucheng site in earlier Shang was much poorer, which was similar to the stamped hard pottery, but the quality of that found in northern China in the same time was very nice, which was typical proto-celadon.

Recently, a large number of proto-celadon sample from some sites in northern and southern China were measured by using INAA, ICP-AES, XRF and petrography. The results from cluster analysis based on our data and former data, which seems of benefit to the opinion that Chinese proto-celadon was produced in southern and northern China during Shang- Zhou dynasties.

In these years, a lot of proto-celadon was excavated from Dongxiafeng and Erlitou sites in Xia dynasty. All above evidences suggested that Chinese proto-celadon originated from northern and southern China.
The theory of mineralogy and new data for clay mineral resources told us that there are a lot of porcelain clay and Kaolin clay in northern and southern China, and Kaolin clay mine usually formed in semi-tropical and torrid zones.

In the end, a preliminary explanation was given why Chinese white porcelain did originated in northern China.

Curriculum Vitae

born 1947 in Shanghai city

  • Professor of the Department of Scientific History and Archaeometry, School of Humanities, Graduate University,Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Director of Joint Laboratory of Human Evolution and Archaeometry of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Max-Planck Institute
  • General Secretary and Standing Council Member of Chinese Society on Archaeometry
  • Standing Member of the International Conference on Archaeometry
  • Advisor of International Conference on X-ray Archaeology
  • 1968 - graduated in the Department of Modern Physics of the University of Science and Technology of China

Since 1968 research on archaeometry
Several major projects funded by Chinese Academy of Sciences as Chief Scientist and a lot of funding from National Natural Science Foundation, also some general funding from National Ministry of Science and Technology and National Education Ministry of China

Main Research Interest

Provenance of Chinese cultural relics, Bio-archaeology and archaeometry of Chinese ancient ceramics and metallurgy

More than 140 papers published.