Event: Pizza Talk: "Bioarchaeological investigations in China and Mongolia: Mongol soldiers, Silk Road merchants, Manichaean infants, and bound feet women"

Date & Time

December 6, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Contact Information

Matthew Swanson


Fowler A222

Event Type

Pizza Talk

Event Details

Speaker: Dr. Christine Lee, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cal State LA

My research focuses on ethnic identity and how it is expressed in the human skeleton and its burial context. The populations I study were seldom represented in contemporary historical texts. These people included nomadic pastoralists, migrants and merchants, and finally women and children. The first population sample represents the Uighur dynasty in Mongolia. This cemetery dates to the end of the dynasty which was plagued by epidemics and famine before its collapse. Bioarchaeological analysis of Manichaean temple burials show a high mortality rate among infants and periods of high stress among the surviving adults. A second rare archaeological sample dates to Ming-Qing dynasty China. This is the only archaeological site known to have women with bound feet. A complete analysis was done on the occurrence and prevalence of footbinding from the Song –Qing dynasty burials. Next,four archaeological sites from the Western Regions (China and Mongolia) will be discussed regarding trauma patterns along the Silk Road. These are frontier sites from non-Asian Sogdian (Persian) and Pazyryk (Scythian) populations. Finally, current field excavations of several sites which date to the Period of Disunion (Dark Ages), after the collapse of the Han and Xiongnu empires. Little is known about this time other than there was widespread unrest and migration in Mongolia and Northern China. Preliminary findings suggest a change in burial patterns and ethnic identities.