Liu Qinzhu, male and from the Han nationality, born in August 1943, is a native of Tianjin and a member of the Communist Party of China; In July 1967, he graduated from the department of archaeology of Peking University. He has been a researcher of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a PhD student advisor, secretary-general of the Chinese Archaeological Society, vice-president of the Chinese Heluo Cultural Research Association, executive director of the China Numismatic Society, director of the Association of Chinese Historians, consultant of the Chinese Association of Ancient Capital Studies, and a consultative member of the Chinese Commission for the International Council on Monuments and Sites. His academic expertise is in Han Tang archaeology; since 1992, he has started to enjoy a special allowance awarded by the State Council; in 1996, he won the “Young and Mid-aged Expert with Outstanding Contribution” Award; in 1998, he was elected as a corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute.
Editor: Wang Daohang
Major Academic Works:
Archeological Study on Ancient Capital and Imperial Tombs, Science Press, 2000
Eleven Mausoleums Of the Western Han Dynasty,
Chang’an City of the Han Dynasty, Cultural Relics Press, 2003
Bone Signs Calligraphy of Chang'an City of the Han
Relics of Du Ling Mausoleum of the Han Dynasty. Science Press. 1993
Analysis on the layout of Chang’an city of the Han Dynasty: a discussion with Mr Yang Kuan, in Archaeology. 1987.10
On the layout of
Study on the eaves pile of the Warring States Qin and Han, in Archaeological Study on Han and Tang Frontiers, Science Press, 1994
Study on the archaeological discoveries of Chang’an city of the Han Dynasty and relevant issues Archaeology, 1996.10
Study on bone signs and handicraft management office of Han dynasty, in Shanxi Historical Museum Journal (4), 1997
Several problems in archaeological research on Chinese ancient imperial palaces, in Cultural Relics, 1998. 3
Archaeological discoveries and research on jade of the Tang dynasty, in Jade of
Several problems of the archaeological research on Chinese ancient imperial palaces, in Archaeology, 2000. 7
Study on the excavation and lutes of newly obtained Chang’an ruins of the Han Dynasty, in Published on Festschrift of Centenary of Shi Zhangru’s Birth --Archaeology · history ·Culture
Archaeological research on the history of ancient capitals of
The layout of Chang’an city and its social changes, in The Structure of Chinese Cities and Social Change-- Proceedings of the International Colloquium of East Asian Culture Research Institute in Seoul University· 2001, Korea Seoul National University Press. 2003
Research on the social formation changes reflected by the archaeological findings of the layout structure of Chinese ancient city ruins, in The Archaeological Journal, 2006.3
Outline of ancient Chinese capital city archaeology, in Collected Papers of Archaeology (16), 2006
Rich in Knowledge and Tenacious of Purpose, Inquiring with Earnestness and Reflecting with Self-practice
Jiang Bo (Jiang for short below): Good morning, Mr Liu! It’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to communicate with you. Not long ago, you opened a blog on the Sina website, and the daily hits on that day reached more than 110,000. It surprised people that a scholar’s blog received attention from so many Netizens. From the comments online, we noticed that bloggers particularly focused on your field experience, could you please talk about that?
Liu Qingzhu (Liu for short below): I never thought about opening a blog until it was hard to decline the warm-hearted invitation from the Sina website. Speaking of my field experience, one of the earliest should be the field archaeological internship I held at the Anyang Yin Dynasty Ruins when I was attending school at
The archaeological prospecting and excavations of the Xianyang City Ruins of the Qin Dynasty started from 1973. No.1 and No.3 Palace Ruins of Xianyang City of the Qin Dynasty were excavated successively. Both of the palaces are large buildings with luxurious and magnificent structures. The two archaeological excavations gave people the chance to see the elegance of Qin Palaces for the first time. At that time, we also found frescos on the walls of the No.3 Palace Ruins, which were the earliest palace murals in
In 1979, I was transferred to the Archaeology Research Institute of teh Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Since then, the focus of my field archaeology work turned to capital cities and emperor mausoleums of the Han and Tang Dynasty with the care and arrangement of Xia Nai, Shi Xingbang and Ma Dezhi. In 1979, I participated in the archaeological excavation of Qinglong Temple Ruins in Chang’an City of the Tang Dynasty, where the Japanese monk Kukai learned Buddhist scriptures from Huikuo (an eminent monk in the Tang Dynasty). As a result, the excavation of the Qinglong Temple Ruins aroused great repercussions in Japanese and Chinese academia. The Qinglong Temple Ruins have been restored on the original site and opened to visitors, becoming a famous tourist attraction in Xi’an.
In 1980, I led the prospecting and excavation project of Yueyang City of the Qin and Han Dynasty. Later during 1983 and 1984, I directed the archaeological excavations and prospecting project of the Western Mausoleum of Emperor Xuan of Han. The former one was the capital city of Qin before it moved the capital to Xianyang, and the latter was the tomb of the “Resurgence Lord” of the Han dynasty. Both of them aroused concern in academia.
From 1985 to 1991, as the captain of the archaeological team of Chang’an city of the Western Han Dynasty, I presided over the archaeological excavation and prospecting projects of the Weiyang Palace Ruins, Eastern City and Western City Ruins, Changle Palace Ruins, North Palace Ruins and Jianzhang Palace Ruins of Chang’an City of the Western Han Dynasty and published the archaeological report “Weiyang Palace in Chang’an City of Han Dynasty”. During 1997-2001, with the special permission from the State Council of China, the Archaeological Institute of the
Jiang: Generally speaking, your field archaeological work concentrated mainly on the capitals and the Emperor Mausoleum of the Qin and Han Dynasties. So which is your most unforgettable excavation experience?
Liu: What struck me most was the excavation of the Emperor Mausoleum ruins of the Emperor Xuan of Han. In early 1980 the Archaeological Institute arranged for me to chair the excavation work of the Chang’an City Ruins of the Western Han Dynasty. As is known to all, the burial concept in the Han dynasty was "facing death like facing life", so there was the saying of "building mausoleum like building capital". The palace is the stage of the Emperor's real life, while the mausoleum is a microcosm of the underground world of emperors, and the mausoleum is designed and built according to the style of the palaces where they lived before death. So prior to the excavation of the Chang’an City Ruins of the Western Han Dynasty, I planned to do an experiment on the Emperor Mausoleum construction in order to see the capital city system from another perspective. Elaborate funerals had become common practice in the Han Dynasty. According to Suo Lin of the Western Jin Dynasty, the Emperor of the Han dynasty began to build his mausoleum two years after his enthronement. "Taxes in the country were divided into three parts: one is to support ancestral temples, one is to feed guests, and the other part is to build mausoleum". Someone proposed the excavation of the Mao mausoleum of Emperor Wu of Han, but I did not adopt this proposal. Emperor Wu of Han was an emperor with outstanding ability and the most successful emperor of the Han Dynasty. The excavation of his mausoleum will definitely create quite a stir, but the purpose of archaeological excavations is not a treasure hunt. For me, although the Mao mausoleum has massive formation, it is not necessarily typically representative of the emperor mausoleum system of the Han Dynasty, because it might be different from the common institutions. After thinking it over, I decided to excavate the Du mausoleum ruins of emperor Xuan of the Han Dynasty. Since Emperor Xuan of Han was known as the “Resurgence Lord” of the Western Han dynasty, his mausoleum might better reflect the regular formation of emperor mausoleum in the Han Dynasty. It has been proved that the decision to excavate the Du mausoleum ruins of Emperor Xuan of Han was correct. Through excavation, the mausoleum system of the Han Dynasty has been revealed for the first time, and problems that haven’t been expatiated in former literature and records have been addressed. For example, many people have confused cemetery with mausoleum in the past and the excavation of Du mausoleum showed that: Cemetery is field-centric, and mausoleum is palace-centric, the two cannot be confused as one concept. In another instance, “Wu Zhu coins” that have puzzled ancient numismatic circles have been proved as funerary ware, rather than currency; the concrete formation of gates, pads and towers in the Han Dynasty has been confirmed through the excavation of the Du mausoleum. We can see that the excavation of the Du mausoleum ruins has solved many important problems academically although there was no detection of exquisite cultural relics, which was a comfort to me.
Jiang: I didn’t know that the excavation of the Du mausoleum was making preparations for the excavation of Chang’an City of the Western Han until today. In the mid 1980s, after finishing the excavation of the Du mausoleum, you turned to the archaeological survey and excavation of Chang’an City of Western Han, among which the excavation of
Liu: The achievements of the Chang’an city ruins of Han were the result of joint efforts from archaeologists of generations including Wang Zhongshu, Huang Zhanyue, Li Yuchun Li Yufang and me. The exploration and excavation of the Chang’an City ruins of Han can be detected as a pattern of Chinese archaeological academia to excavate ancient capital ruins. We may summarize the excavation history of Chang’an City ruins of Han as follows:
1950s-1960s, investigate Chang'an city walls, gates and major roads within the city, confirm the scope of
Late 1950s, investigate and excavate the ritual buildings in the southern suburb.
1970s, excavate the arsenal ruins
Mid 1980s, investigate
Early 1990s, excavate handicraft workshop ruins in Western city.
Late-mid 1990s to early 21st century, excavate the Gui palace ruins (Sino-Japanese cooperative excavation project)
Since the early 21st century till now, investigate the
Thus we can see that the archaeological work of the Han in Chang’an city started from the investigation of the city wall formation, and then focused on the excavation of major architectural facilities such as city walls, arsenals and ritual buildings, followed by the excavation of the market and finally the excavation of Imperial concubines Palaces. The work procedures reflect the subject concept of from "macro" to "micro” and from “surface to "point". It should be noted that the archaeological investigation of the imperial tombs of the Western Han Dynasty was actually carried out by taking imperial tombs as part of capital cities.
Jiang: We have noticed that from the mid 1990s, with the systematic investigation of ancient Chinese capital cities, you have successively published papers such as Archaeological Discovery of Chang’an City of Han and Study on Related Issues, with the view that capital archaeology should focus on formation layout and the horizontal evolution of the capital formation layout of pre-Qin to that of Han and Tang reflected the evolution of Kingdom politics to Empire politics. According to your proposal, the field archaeological work of the Erlitou ruins and Yanshi ruins has shifted the focus from utensils typology and staging research to Palace formation and capital layout, and you found imperial palaces in the Erlitou ruins. The palace area of Yanshi ruins has been brought to light as a whole, which changed the archaeological outlook of capitals in the Xia and Shang periods. Could you please talk about your ideas in respect of capital city archaeology?
Liu: It should be emphasized that the research on Chinese ancient capitals has a long history, from which we can see a profile of Chinese academic history, which is -- Tang and Sung geography -- Ming and Qing textology -- antiquarianism -- field archaeology. Reviewing the works about capital sites of Han and Tang in the history, we can see that scholars have conducted field investigation since the Northern Wei, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty. But it was the archaeological excavation practices since the founding of the new
The development of theories on a subject is an important condition for its maturity. The archaeology of ancient capitals is a systematic project, which involves a wide range of social and historical information. Capital city archaeology cannot just rest on archaeological “geology” and “typology”, which are research methodologies, rather than purposes. The archaeological research of capital cities should not only address problems such as location, environment and formation layout from a macroscopic perspective, but also study palaces, ancestral temples, arsenals, monasteries, gates, streets, handicraft workshops and so on. Only in this way can we deepen the archaeological research of ancient capital cities.
Scholars who study prehistoric archaeology stress investigation on settlement formation; scholars who study historical archaeology emphasize the formation layout of capital cities, and these two ideas are consistent in thought---no matter what the size of the ruins is, the overall outlook of the ruins should be grasped first and then detailed analysis can be further carried out. We all know that Yanshi ruins was first discovered by scholars who were engaged in
Jiang: Nowadays, archeology has received more and more attention from Chinese people. However, when you attended school, archaeology was a rather dull subject, so why did you choose it as your major?
Liu: I was born in
According to the teaching arrangement, students majoring in History needn’t do their major study in the first year, so we could choose any course we were interested in. I was impressed by the course taught by Professor Shang Hongkui, Zou Heng and Yan Wenming. Professor Shang taught "Studies of Historical Literature". He was knowledgeable, funny, and witty, and students liked him a lot. I still remember his words such as "health is a blessing and reading is happiness". Professor Zou Heng and Yan Wenming taught Shang Zhou Archaeology and Neolithic Archaeology respectively. Mr Zou had a clear logic and Mr Yan was meticulous with scholarly research, both of them have left a very deep impression on me.
Jiang: For many people, archaeology is a legendary vocation. But in the mean time it is also very tough. You have devoted youself to archaeology for so many years and gone through so much hardship, do you feel confused and suffer sometimes?
Liu: With respect to field work, I have never felt distressed because of my deep love for it. I think this is connected with my experience in rural areas after graduating from university. In 1967, I was delegated to Nanniwan to do manual labor. Nanniwan was a wonderful place in songs, but actually, the poor ecological conditions, the labor intensity and the suffering of the local people there are beyond our imagination. I often miss those days in Nanniwan, where I came into contact with the bottom of society and cultivated my spirit of hard work. With the experience of Nanniwan, I don’t think field archaeology is hard. When I participate in field excavations, I often compare the circumstance I am in with that of people at the bottom, and I feel I’m blessed. Indeed, from 1974 to 1979, I rode a bike for more than 100 miles in the wilderness everyday whilst investigating the mausoleum of the Han and Tang dynasty. It was difficult to find water and food sources, but I didn’t think it was a bitter experience.
Jiang: The overstock of field archaeology reports is a common problem in current archaeological circles. Scholars in archaeological circles have noticed that you have chaired many field archaeological projects and the collation of data was timely. For example, large-scale archaeological reports like Du Ling mausoleum ruins of Han, Weiyang Palace of Han Chang'an City, and Gui Palace of Han Chang’an City were published soon after the end of the excavation, which greatly facilitates the research of scholars in the academic world. Your fieldwork task was heavy then, how did you file the field archaeological report?
Liu: The archaeological excavations and the settlement of field data were conducted at the same time, which was a tradition set by Mr. Xia Nai in archaeology. When I participated in field excavations, I always joined the project during the day, made records at night, settled data and compiled the excavation report during breaks. Furthermore, due to the delay of the "cultural revolution", I felt there wasn’t enough time when I engaged in archaeological excavations and research work again. I remember when I participated in the excavation of the Du Ling mausoleum ruins in the early 1980s, I selflessly devoted myself to the field excavation work with enthusiasm of “seizing every minute”. The field excavation lasted for 10 months in one year. During the spring of 1983, excavated the Qin Palace of Du Mausoleum; summer, excavate the No.1 funerary tomb; autumn, excavate the East Gate ruins of the Du Cemetery; in the first half of 1984, excavate the Bian Palace ruins of the Du Mausoleum and in the second half 1984, excavate the mausoleum ruins of the queen of Xuan Emperor of Han dynasty and the East Gate ruins of the mausoleum. During the excavation, the fieldwork was conducted around the clock without time to take a rest. I was young, strong and enthusiastic at that time. Using current fashionable words, I was "working happily"!
Timely collation and publishing of field archaeological reports are not only serious academic tasks, but also a professional guideline that should be followed by archaeologists. No matter how valuable the site is, and no matter how smooth the excavation is, all of the efforts will end in vain if data can not be brought into the light in a timely, objective and accurate way. Archaeological remains are like massive history books, archaeological excavations expose layer by layer, and archaeologists are reading history page by page; however, excavation and reading are quite different, because reading can be done again and again, while excavation is irreversible. In a sense, archaeological excavation is also a kind of "scientific undermining". If excavators can not report excavation data timely, objectively and accurately, the academic losses will be irreversible, because after excavations, the original ruins will no longer exist.
“Science is an instrument shared by all people around the world”, so the compilation of excavation reports is also serious. Publishing excavation data in a comprehensive, accurate and objective way is the first principle of compiling excavation reports. Excavators cannot cut down, add or even alter excavation data as he or she likes. It seems to me that field excavation reports are like medical certificates, which need the detailed, objective and accurate recording of patient conditions and diagnosis results. This is the basis for the establishment of any therapeutic schedule. With respect to archaeology, the field archaeological report on excavation is the basis of the whole subject, without which the academic mansion of archaeology will become a castle in the air.
Jiang: You have been the leader of the archaeological institute for a long time and you are the director of the Academic Committee of the Archaeology Institute, could you talk about your ideas about the construction of the Institute?
Liu: I had deep affection for the Archaeology Institute. In 1978, recommended by the famous archaeologist Shi Xingbang, I have been transferred to the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences for nearly 30 years now. The Archaeology Institute is a place where academic authorities Zheng zhenduo, Liang Siyong, Xia Nai and Yin Da used to work. It has an inclusive academic environment, dignified academic atmosphere, and a multitude of knowledgeable academic masters. It’s a blessing for me to work here.
To build an internationally renowned institute, I think we should continue efforts from the following aspects: firstly, archaeology should be based on fields. We should continue to do the field archaeology work well, especially the investigation of ancient capital ruins, which is the foundation for building the Archaeology Institute. Secondly, we should continue to run well authoritative publications in Chinese archaeological circles: Archaeology, Journal of Archaeology, Collected Papers of Archaeology and the English journal Chinese Archaeology. Thirdly, we should continue efforts in personnel training, work out feasible and effective programs in the cultivation of young scholars. Fourthly, we should be open-minded and bring in renowned scholars and also send out promising scholars for further study. Only in this way can the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences become a promising academc institution.
Jiang Bo, male, was born in Yueyang, Hunan province in 1970. In 1992, he graduated from the Department of History at Wuhan University. In 2001, he graduated from the Department of Archaeology of the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences with a doctoral degree in history. Since 1992 to date, he has been working as an associate researcher in the Archaeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. His major academic works include Research on the Ritual Buildings in the Han and Tang Dynasty and so on.
(Translated by Xu Xiujun)