The Third Shanghai Archaeology Forum Opens at Shanghai University
Created On : 2017-12-18    Views : 527


Themed “Water, Society and Civilization”, the Third Shanghai Archaeology Forum successfully opened in the Conference Hall at the Library of Shanghai University at 9am on December 8.  The forum is jointly sponsored by CASS and Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, and undertaken by the CASS Institute of Archaeology, Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Cultural Heritage Administration, Shanghai Academy and Shanghai University. Wang Weiguang, President of CASS, Ying Yong, Mayor of Shanghai, and Guan Qiang, Vice Director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, respectively delivered speeches and jointly presented the “Important Archeological Research Results Award” to nine winners.


“Water is the origin of the universe; it nurtures life and gives rise to human civilization,” Wang Weiguang noted in his speech that, all the ancient civilizations, including ancient Egypt, ancient India, ancient Babylon and ancient China, emerged in river basins that were suitable for agricultural cultivation. Just as the ancient Chinese saying goes, “Water can either carry or capsize a boat.” So it is that the relationship between water and the rise and fall of ancient civilizations was dialectical and complicated. While ancient Chinese had the legend of “King Yu Tamed the Flood”, the myth of “Noah's Ark” circulated across the Middle East. How water has promoted the development of human society and civilization, what technological innovations and inventions water has driven and how ancient civilization in human history has been advanced through the management and utilization of water resources, are among the important issues worth exploring. Today, water is the irreplaceable and fundamental natural resource that both sustains the functions of the ecosystem on earth and supports the development of both social and economic systems. It is of practical significance to discuss the relationship between water and the society and civilization of humans.

Wang Weiguang said, humans have ushered into an era of further globalization. All countries depend on each other for development and share the same fate. The world needs China, and China cannot develop without the world. China and the world need more communication for better understanding about each other. Over the past years, China’s archaeological force, represented by the Institute of Archaeology at CASS, has carried out archaeological work in venues outside of China, amid the country’s “going global” move. Since 2012, the Institute of Archaeology at CASS and the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences have jointly conducted archaeological excavation of the Ming Tepe ruins in search of the relics and remains from the ancient Silk Road; since 2014, the Institute of Archaeology at CASS, in collaboration with Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History and some other organizations, has carried out excavation of the Copan ruins in quest of the Mayan civilization. The archaeological efforts have produced notable results, and CASS also plans to launch archaeological excavation and cooperation in Egypt and India. By far, the said two projects have been included into the major innovation projects of CASS. Besides overseas archaeological excavation, academic exchanges, represented by the Shanghai Archaeology Forum, also help the world deepen the understanding of the history and current conditions of China’s archaeology, and advance the mutual integration and common development of archaeology across the world.


In his speech, Ying Yong said, Shanghai has emerged, developed, and flourished by water. Water has nourished Shanghai’s history and culture, and shaped Shanghai’s spirit known as “inclusiveness, pursuit of excellence, openness, wisdom, generosity, and modesty”. At present, Shanghai is accelerating its construction as an international center of economy, finance, trade and shipping, and a globally influential scientific & technological innovation center, and is working to build itself into a global city of excellence, and an attractive city of innovation, culture, and ecology. So, efforts must be made to establish and follow the philosophy that “beautiful scenery is as if the wealth of gold and silver mines”, implement the toughest system for water resources management, and strengthen water environment governance, so as to secure the sustainable development of the city with the sustainable utilization of water resources. He believed that the ideas of attendees will help Shanghai draw better from past experience and offer new solutions to the current issues related to water sources.


Guan Qiang spoke highly of the forum, saying that the Shanghai Archaeology Forum is becoming a platform for the exchange of new findings, new research results, and new academic ideas for worldwide archaeological workers. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage attaches great importance to archaeological research, successively organizing research on large projects, such as the Exploration into the Origin of Chinese Civilization and the Division of the History of Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties, in quest of the evolution of humans and Chinese civilization; it also values the social service functions of archaeology, actively introducing new philosophies and means for public archaeology and winning extensive public support. China is vigorously implementing the “Belt and Road” initiative; it expects domestic archaeological workers to increase exchanges and cooperation with foreign peers, and sincerely invites archaeological research institutes from across the world to China.


At the forum, Weng Tiehui, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, presented the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Professor Brian M. Fagan from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Wen Xueguo, Executive Vice President of Shanghai Academy and Vice President of Shanghai University, Wang Wei, member of the Academic Division of CASS and Chairman of the Archaeological Society of China, presented the “Distinguished Service Award” to both Christopher Scarre from Durham University and Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim from Damascus University. Jin Donghan, President of Shanghai University, and Ma Yuan, Director of the Bureau of Scientific Research Management of CASS, were also invited to present the “Important Field Archeological Findings Award” to ten awardees.

Xiao Guiyu and Zong Ming, respectively Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, Li Youmei, First Vice President of Shanghai Academy, and Colin Renfrew, archaeology professor with the University of Cambridge, also attended the opening ceremony of the forum.

More than 150 experts, scholars and researchers from worldwide archaeological institutes and universities were invited to the forum and had in-depth exchanges and discussions about the complicated relationship between water resources, water management, and ancient civilizations.


(Article by Xiang Jinmei, photos by

Zha Jianguo and Xie Nini)