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image of Journal of East Asian Archaeology

Wang Mang's Mingtang is one of the most firmly-dated and well-documented pieces of evidence concerning ancient Chinese cosmology. The present article uses this important archaeological discovery as a touchstone for an analysis of the current scholarly reconstruction of China's antiquity and the search for continuity in Chinese culture. Here one may remark a shift in responses to the problems of modernity and national identity. Chinese intellectuals today face the challenge of breaking out of the deadly cycle of stark opposition between the conservatives' egocentric insistence on cultural superiority and the Westerners' self-denying cultural nihilism. The means for creating a more nuanced discourse lies in the integration of Chinese history into the global social sciences - not by "applying" Western theories to Chinese material, but by revising and advancing current theories in the light of data and principles generated from Chinese history.

Affiliations: 1: The University of Hong Kong


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