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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Asia - China- Yangguanzhai Field School - 2014

Asia - China- Yangguanzhai Field School - 2014

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2014-06-22
End Date 2014-07-26

Archaeology Field School Location

China - Yangguanzhai

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

Institute for Field Research, UCLA,
Connecticut College

Academic Credit

Attending students will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through Connecticut College.

Archaeology Field School Tuition

$ 5,050. Fees are payable to the Institute for Field
Research. Eight semester credit units provided through Connecticut College.

Fee includes registration, accommodations, program activities, meals on workdays, and health insurance.

Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

Airfare, weekend meals and optional excursions are additional.

Archaeology Field School Description

The prehistoric village of Yangguanzahi (YGZ) dates to the Middle to Late Yangshao period (4,000-3,000 BCE). It is one of the largest of its kind. The site is located in the Jing River Valley, approximately 25 kilometers north of the ancient city of Xi’an in northwest China. Since 2004, in preparation for a major construction project, the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology began to conduct large-scale excavations and exploratory surveys – by means of test trenches and auguring with the Loyang spade – in various parts of the site. More than 17,800 square meters have been excavated to date. These activities revealed a moat, a row of cave dwellings, subterranean houses, child urn-burials, and extensive pottery kilns. The quantity and quality of finds were impressive enough for the Chinese authorities to halted development and declare the area a protected archaeological site. In 2010, as part of the ongoing excavation, a joint UCLA/Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Academy/Xibei University project began to operate at the site, shifting the focus from the large-scale exposure of architecture to a more careful and systematic analysis of local stratigraphy and a stronger emphasis on anthropological interpretations.
In its initial four seasons (2010-2013), the YGZ project excavated the northeastern corner of the moat, exposing multiple layers of domestic architecture. No clear pattern of planning or coherent arrangement of habitation spaces is evident. Architectural features include house floors, post holes, a child burial, kilns, refuse pits, and so-called ash pits, whose function or functions are unknown. Most of these features were found either attached or at very short distance from the moat.
A basic understanding of the YGZ site still eludes us. Its formation process is as unclear as the function of the moat. Two competing hypotheses exist: the first suggests that YGZ grew from a small village into a large concentration of local population and that the moat was built as a defensive measure. A second hypothesis postulates that YGZ was never fully occupied, but served as a local ceramic production center with multiple itinerary craftsmen working at and around the site, utilizing the high-quality local clay and other local resources for ceramic production. The YGZ project is testing both hypotheses by engaging in detailed research that carefully investigates the micro-stratigraphy of the site and evaluates the functions of the many and diverse architectural features.
During the 2014 season, the project will continue working in the northeast corner of the site. We will continue the excavation of the five units left unfinished from the past two seasons (2012-2013). The 2014 season will attempt to complete the excavation of the Neolithic refuse pits found in these units. We will investigate the depositional processes that created the pits, and we will sieve the contents and extract botanical remains through flotation. Furthermore, we will conduct ceramic analysis to learn more about the exploitation of local clay sources and the pottery production at the site. The students will gain experience in experimental archaeology by making pottery knifes as they were found in great number at the site. To gain a better understanding of the overall settlement system of the region, we will also conduct survey work at the nearby Neolithic sites of Manan and Huiduipo.
The YGZ project provides not only training in field excavation, but also a full exposure to Chinese archaeology through visits to museum and archaeological sites of various periods, and lectures. In addition, it provides an opportunity for students to interact on a daily basis with Chinese students and to work closely with some highly experienced Chinese archaeologists.
This course has three goals: (1) to introduce students to field methods in archaeology--including a practical working knowledge of survey, excavation, laboratory, and field cataloging methods; (2) to give students a basic exposure to the materials of Chinese archaeology and to how archaeology is practiced in China; (3) to conduct hands-on archaeological research at the YGZ site.
This field school is a collaborative project between the Institute for Field Research, UCLA, the Shaanxi Archaeological Academy and Xibei University in Xi’an, China. The course will begin on June 22 and will meet every weekday until July 25. Students will be able to depart home on July 26.
Students will spend the first week in Xi’an for five days of lectures and instructional museum tours. The classroom lectures will focus on questions of archaeological method and theory on the one hand and the particularities of Chinese archaeology on the other hand. The students will be introduced to some of the most important archaeological finds in the Wei River Valley, as well as to various anthropological themes related to the Yangshao culture and the Yangguanzhai site. Important topics covered in the class include the history of Chinese archaeology, the origins of agriculture and animal domestication, sedentary villages, ritual, and craft specialization.
Following this initial week of preliminary instruction, four weeks will be spent in the field performing survey, excavation, and lab work at the Yangguanzhai Station near the Yangguanzhai site. Students will engage in the following activities:
Survey & Excavations: Students will participate in supervised survey and excavations at the site.
Recording: Students will maintain a personal field note book, which becomes the property of the archaeological project as part of the original record of the research (students may make Xerox copies for themselves if they desire). Students will also participate in filling out excavation forms, mapping finds, and recording stratigraphy, excavation measurements, and cultural features.
Laboratory analysis: Students will participate in the initial processing of the excavated finds at the Yangguanzhai Field Station of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology.
Experimental archaeology: Students will participate in various attempts to replicate prehistoric manufacturing procedures, complemented by visits to traditional artisans’ workshops in the surrounding area.
Interpretation: Students will be instructed in some of the anthropological methods for interpreting prehistoric materials, and they will be encouraged to come up with their own interpretations of the data recovered. Students are also encouraged to use YGZ data in their own independent research projects.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Time Period


Field School Setting/Conditions

Food is provided Monday- Saturday (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Students are responsible for their own meals on Sundays. All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food in the tradition of local cuisine. The daily diet in north China is heavily based on rice, noodles and vegetables. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, etc.) are difficult to maintain in this location. Vegetarians may attend but will find options fairly limited.
Please let us know when you apply for this program if you have special dietary needs, as well as any medical or physical conditions. We will advise you accordingly.

What is the daily schedule for the field school


Directors and Instructors

Dr. Ye Wa, UCLA (; Dr. Zhouyong Sun, Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, China (; Prof. Lothar von Falkenhausen, UCLA (

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn


Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Dr. Ye Wa, UCLA

Field School Contact E-mail:
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