In recent decades archaeological discoveries across northern China have brought to light unexpected and significant works of extraordinary beauty. These artifacts express the dynamic changes taking place in this region from the fifth to eleventh century, helping to redefine our understanding of ancient Chinese cultures.
Unearthed showcases recently excavated artifacts from Shanxi and Gansu provinces, many of which have never been exhibited outside China. These objects range from fantastical tomb guardian-beasts, to luxury goods reflecting the lucrative "Silk Road" trade, to objects designed for religious or ritual purposes, to a magnificent stone sarcophagus in the shape of a traditional Chinese house. Detailed essays discuss tradition and innovation in Chinese art; China's interactions with the outside world through trade and invasion; artistic techniques and styles; and cultural traditions. The acquisition of the artifacts is contextualized within the major developments in Chinese archaeology over the past hundred years, with particular attention to the intense periods after 1950 and its status today.
Annette Juliano is professor of art history at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark Campus. An Jiayao is research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.