A limestone Mayan maize god statue unearthed in Copan site, Honduras
The Research Center for Chinese Archaeology Abroad was launched in Beijing on March 2 as the new affiliate of the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Chen Xingcan, director of the Institute of Archaeology at CASS, hosted the launching ceremony.
Wang Wei, CASS Member and director of the center, said in his address to the ceremony that the establishment of the center is necessary for China’s national strategy and disciplinary development. In the context of the “Belt and Road” initiative, Chinese archaeology is embracing an opportunity to further “go global.”
Chen said that the center not only aims to integrate the internal research resources of Chinese archaeology abroad within CASS but also to mobilize other nation-wide archaeological teams in this field. Academics are still in the early stages of integrating ancient Chinese civilization into the world system through comparative study as well as investigating, excavating and studying other world ancient civilizations by means of first-hand information, Chen said.
Zhou Yunfan, vice-director of the Bureau of International Cooperation at CASS, said that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of CASS. As its academic strength grows and its disciplinary development advances, CASS is seeking new channels for international communication in addition to people-to-people exchanges, joint academic conferences, cooperative research programs and scholarly translation. He expressed hope that the platform of the Research Center for Chinese Archaeology Abroad could play an essential part in fostering sincere dialogue and mutual learning between different cultures, civilizations.
So far, the archaeological institutions of China have conducted cooperative programs with more than 10 countries. For example, the Institute of Archaeology at CASS has been excavating the ancient city of Mingtepa in Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan, since 2012 and conducting field work at the Mayan city of Copan in Honduras since 2015. The excavations conducted by the Institute of Archaeology of Hunan Province in Bangladesh and by Northwest University in Central Asia have also made a series of achievements.
Li Xinwei, research fellow from the Institute of Archaeology at CASS, who led the excavation team at the Mayan city of Copan in Honduras, said Chinese archaeologists are latecomers to the study of Mayan civilization, so it will require generations of diligence for them to catch up with the research level of some Western scholars. Li also expressed confidence in domestic archaeologists’ theoretical ability to delve into the Maya civilization and gain a unique understanding of it.