Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Making of an Imaginary Archaeological Culture

Sino Platonic Papers No. 237, April 2013

Kungang (昆岗): The Making of an Imaginary Archaeological Culture
Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania, and
Cheng Fangyi, Tsinghua University 

This article analyzes the cultural imaging and fictitious construction employed in designating and describing the “Kungang Ancient Tombs,” including their naming to echo an ancient historical site, the collecting and relocation of cultural relics, and the fabricated explanations for these relics. As we explore further, we find that local interests, motivated by the expectation of benefitting materially from attention and tourism, were responsible for instigating the exploration and exploitation of a desert archaeological site. Besides the Kungang Ancient Tombs, we also discuss the Northern Cemetery, which proves to be of the same cultural type as Xiaohe (小河) Cemetery, far to the east.

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