Communities of Mortuary Practice: A Renewed Study of the Tianma-Qucun Western Zhou Cemetery

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Western Zhou archaeology (1046-771 bc) is dominated by cemetery- and mortuary-related data. To date most studies have relied on later historical narratives and focused on the investigation of elites and their mortuary practices. This paper sets out to provide a renewed approach to the study of Western Zhou cemeteries by looking at the graveyard as a whole and with it the relationship between the commoners and nobles who were buried in them. Its case study is the important site of Tianma-Qucun, located in modern-day Shanxi province, the residential site and burial ground of the Jin state during the Western Zhou period. We provide a community-focused study of mortuary practices aimed at uncovering local-specific shared ways of doings things. This approach not only affords a refined vision of Western Zhou mortuary ritual and practice, but also one where local variation and appropriations can be appreciated as well. Thus, while common Zhou mortuary traditions should be understood to have been of greater import to Zhou elites, their impact on the lower echelons of society remains less clear. By examining the mortuary practices of individual communities, we aim to uncover these site-specific manifestations in their larger contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-44
Number of pages22
JournalCambridge Archaeological Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Archaeology


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