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Gallery Text

Although there is evidence of the minor presence of copper artifacts among several late Neolithic cultures, by the dawn of the second millennium BCE, societies in northern China appear to have begun using bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) in earnest. Excavations at several Longshan culture sites along the middle and lower Yellow River valleys have yielded tools, ornaments, and vessel fragments made of bronze. Longshan black pottery vessels with design elements reminiscent of hammered metal also imply the influence of metalwork during the latter part of this otherwise Neolithic culture. Following closely after the Longshan period, Erlitou culture sites in Henan and Shanxi provinces reveal a complex, hierarchical society that produced bronze tools, weapons, vessels, and turquoise-inlaid plaques (such as those displayed here) of astonishing sophistication. The presence of such artifacts, along with the remains of bronze-casting molds at Erlitou, confirms that China had fully entered its Bronze Age by the second millennium BCE.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
2006.170.97
Title
Stem cup
Other Titles
Original Language Title: 山東龍山文化 黑陶高柄杯
Classification
Vessels
Work Type
vessel
Date
c. 2600-2000 BCE
Places
Creation Place: East Asia, China, Shandong province
Period
Neolithic period, Shandong Longshan culture, c. 2600-2000 BCE
Culture
Chinese
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/189565
Location
Level 1, Room 1740, Early Chinese Art, Arts of Ancient China from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age
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Physical Descriptions
Medium
Black earthenware
Dimensions
H. 17.2 x Diam. 11.9 cm (6 3/4 x 4 11/16 in.)
Provenance
[Kaikodo, New York, October 1999] sold; to Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation, Woodside, CA (1999-2006), partial gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2006.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial gift of the Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation and partial purchase through the Louise Haskell Daly Fund
Accession Year
2006
Object Number
2006.170.97
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions
Description
Stem cup with wide, everted, dish-form mouth, cylindrical body, and hollow cylindrical stem perforated with small horizontal quadrilateral openings; thinly potted, lightly burnished blackened earthenware with incised and openwork decoration. Longshan culture; from Shandong province.
Commentary
Compare to:
(1) Black pottery stem cup of very similar form excavated at a Longshan period site at Sanlihe, Jiaoxian, Shandong province. See Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusuo [Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences], Jiaoxian Sanlihe [Report on the Excavation of the Sanlihe Site] (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1988), pl. 82.3.
(2) Several thinly potted black pottery stem cups with similar wide, dish-form mouths dating to the Longshan period excavated at the same site as above. See ibid., pl. 76-77.
Publication History

Kaikodo Journal, Vol. 12 (Autumn 1999), auct. cat., Kaikodo (New York, 1999), no. 41, pp. 182-183 and 296-297

Exhibition History

32Q: 1740 Early China I, Harvard Art Museums, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu