Locating China's Lost (Buried) Cities


George Rapp - University of Minnesota   


Abstract: Rip Rapp's primary area of research for the past 40 years has been in  geoarchaeology.  He began geologic coring in Greece in 1970 as a method for detecting ancient coastlines near archaeological sites.  In 1990, he received an invitation from the Chinese Institute of Archaeology to lead a new project attempting to locate the [hypothesized] deeply buried first capital of the Shang Dynasty.


Using satellite data and ground based geophysics, but primarily coring,  Rip and one of his Ph.D. students, Zhichun Jing, now at the University of  British Columbia , discovered, not the first capital of the Shang, but China's most famous lost city, the "Great City Song" of its ancient  literature. This city was the capital of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.


This led to an invitation from the Institute of Archaeology to have Rip and Jing undertake research at the most important Bronze Age site in East Asia, Yinxu -- the last capital of the Shang Dynasty. While experimenting with the Rip's idea of using systematic coring in archeological survey work, they discovered yet another major [hypothesized but never located] Shang City, now called Huanbei Shang City. This ancient walled city fills in a critical gap in the history of the Shang.