Paradigms and Paradigm Shift in China’s Archaeological Research

Social Sciences in China (Chinese Edition)

No.2, 2019


Paradigms and Paradigm Shift in China’s Archaeological Research



Chen Shengqian


At present, neither those within the discipline nor those outside it have a systematic theoretical grasp of the state of development of Chinese archaeology. A tool to achieve this could be a revised paradigm and the concept of paradigm shift. Although there were some constraints prior to paradigm formation, several decades of development have seen the formation of a number of paradigm-like models, among which the cultural-historical model on the basis of  the Neolithic-protohistorical archaeology is the most mature. This model is a significant constraint on two other branches of archaeology, the Paleolithic-paleoanthropological and the Classical-historical. From the perspective of connection within and without the discipline and through a comparison with the paradigm shift in Western archaeology, we can see some external but critical constraints in Chinese archaeology which limit its theoretical expansion. If we strengthen the construction of theory, Chinese archaeology may yet develop a number of genuine paradigms.