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Archaeology forum rethinks globalization and urbanization

ZHA JIANGUO and XIA LI | 2020-01-02
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)
 
A panel at the Fourth Shanghai Archaeology Forum Photo: ZHA JIANGUO/CSST
 

 

SHANGHAI—Experts looked at globalization and urbanization through the lens of archaeology at the Fourth Shanghai Archaeology Forum at Shanghai University in mid-December.

 
In his speech at the forum’s opening ceremony, Xie Fuzhan, president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), pointed out that the forum is a platform for Chinese archaeology to go out to the world and an important opportunity for mutual learning among world civilizations. He said that the forum promotes the protection and use of archaeological resources and cultural heritage around the world. This forum has set up a special panel for discussing archaeology over the past seven decades since the founding of the PRC, aiming to summarize archaeological history and experience while exploring the field’s future in the new era. 
 
The development of human society is a history of the coexistence of multiple civilizations, Xie said. As the world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century, how to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between different civilizations is a major issue facing all of us. Archaeology should actively shoulder its due responsibilities, make use of its own advantages, learn from history and think about the future with a broader perspective. Xie also expressed his hope that archaeologists provide insights for the continuous development of world civilization and contribute to the construction of a community of shared future for mankind.
 
Ying Yong, mayor of Shanghai, said that urbanization and globalization are the major trends in the development of society. From the perspective of archaeology, this forum deeply explores the opportunities and challenges brought by urbanization and globalization to civilization while looking forward to the shared future for mankind.
 
Under the theme “Archaeology of Urbanization and Globalization: Studying the Past for the Common Future of Mankind,” the forum sheds light on urbanization and globalization more objectively from the perspective of archaeology, learning from the past, said Gu Yucai, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.
 
Many people assume urbanization and globalization to be modern phenomena, but in fact, long-distance cultural integration has always been an important part of history, said Colin Renfrew, a professor of archaeology at the University of Cambridge in the UK. The long history of urbanization and globalization is fully proven in archaeology. More importantly, the history of human urbanization and globalization discovered by archaeologists is also very important for the development of today’s world.
 
Globalization shows how trade and technology can bring the world closer together, said Patricia Crown, a professor at the University of New Mexico in the US. In the Chaco Canyon of New Mexico, researchers have found new genera of shell from the Pacific Coast and scarlet macaws from tropical Mesoamerica. Ancient cocoa traces found in the Chaco Canyon provide further evidence of ties between this area and Mesoamerica. Archaeologists have also found copper bells that were likely imported from Mexico. These non-local items have undergone a process of adjustment or modification to adapt to the new environment.
 
Charles Higham, an emeritus professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand, noted that globalization involves the dissemination of knowledge. Studying the sea and land routes along which metallurgy was propagated in the ancient globalized world helps us understand the historical role of the Silk Road. From the ceramics, bronze mirrors and currencies unearthed in India, Persia and the Mediterranean, we can see that China was an active contributor to globalization. The Maritime Silk Road has also greatly promoted the development of inland regions. Various studies on the Silk Road have provided evidence that the Silk Road has laid the foundation of the first global economic network throughout Eurasia, integrating the East and the West.
 
The Shanghai Archaeology Forum was created in 2013 with the aim of promoting the investigation, research, protection and utilization of archaeological resources and cultural heritage worldwide, said Wang Wei, director of the Academic Division of History at CASS. Held every two years, the forum is an international platform that disseminates archaeological achievements, promotes archaeological research and highlights the modern significance of cultural heritage protection. The first three forums were successfully held in Shanghai. 
 
edited by JIANG HONG