Gary W. Pahl
Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles, 1976
Archaeology of California, Maya, and China, History of Archaeology, Writing Systems
My current research in China has revolved around the study of China's first walled settlements within the Longshan 龍 山 interaction sphere of the greater Yellow River 黃河 and Yangtze River 長江 drainages. Ｉ have worked primarily on walled town sites in Hubei 湖北 and Sichuan 四汌 provinces with my Chinese colleague Prof. He Nu 何 努 working under the aegis of the Chinese Institute of Social Sciences (C.A.S.S.) in Beijing, China's leading archaeological home institution. A driving factor in my involvement with the walled towns research stems from the occurrence of China's earliest attempts at symbolic proto-writing
A parallel project over the last two years has been the development of an English/Chinese Dictionary for Archaeology. The projects main difficulty is determining where to cut it off from further development. The work arises in response to the challenge for non-Chinese speakers to identify and pronounce the Chinese characters in English. This has never been done from either the English to Chinese or Chinese to English direction. Chinese dictionaries and word lists typically offer only the Chinese character in either the simplified or complex character form leaving the non-Chinese speaker without a clue as to how the character is to be pronounced. The completion of the book and web site form will prove to be a boon to English-speaking students of Chinese and archaeology as the terminology does not not easily cross between American English and Chinese archaeological paradigms. CASS has expressed an interest in being a co-publisher of the work to benefit its own archaeologists.
Great Wall of China: It is best known of Chna's walls but walled settlements in China date well back to before 2,500 B.C.E. Those Later Neolithic walled settlements have been the focus of my attention in Chinese archaeology for the early characteristics of later Chinese complex society they give rise to. One of the most exciting experiments emerging from these early walled towns is the development of proto-writing symbols which usually wind up being dead end steps toward actually writing which does not appear in China until Shang Dynasty(ca 1,600 -1,200 B.C.E.)
This is the ancient Chinese medieval walled town, Jingzhou 井州, Hubei Province 湖北省 still standing and staving off the onslaught of the central Yangze River in times of annual flooding. Ironically it stands as a remnant the concept of defense works and water management strategy followed by earlier walled towns from the Neolithic onward. Jingzhou nicely is the prime analogy for the Late Neolithic walled towns I have been working with in the Han and Yangze river confluence area identified archaeoligcally as the Jianghan region 江漢
This is a good view from within the Jingzhoiu walled town ramparts looking out over its moat to suurounding portions of modern Jingzhou.
The walls of this expansive Neolithic walled town can be discerned by the distant high line of trees which denote the remains of the ancient wall. Current settlements seen here inside the protective wall sit on top of ancient structural layers which stood within them
From inside the ancient walls of another walled town in Sichuan Province, Pixian Gucheng, stands a modern example of the surviving "rammed earth" construction which characterizeso many of the Neolithic walled towns in the Jianghan region as well as in the Central Plains region.