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Nu He: Theoretical Framework of Mental Cultural Archaeology

On December 14, Dr. Nu He from Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences gave a presentation on the Theoretical Framework of Mental Cultural Archaeology with Associate Professor Feng Xu as a host.  

Dr. He first distinguished the definitions between “Cognition”, “Intellectual Culture” and “Spiritual Civilization”, which are the conceptual prerequisites of Mental Cultural Archaeology, and then reviewed the study of Mental Cultural Archaeology in the world from the aspects of research history and significance. While affirming fully predecessors' achievements,he also pointed out that these studies contained many inadequacies and deficiencies: the accumulation of basic research results is uneven and lacks systematic research.  

On the basis of this, Dr. He introduced the theoretical framework of Mental Cultural Archaeology he established. He believed that intellectual culture is composed of social consciousness form and social psychological foundation. Among them, the views of nature, religion and society are the core, and they have two expression systems as well: symbol (including characters) and art.  

Focusing on these three core concepts, Dr. He showed his theoretical system in more details. In terms of the view of nature, he stressed its branch - the cosmology. He deemed that in the primitive society,the old idea that the Earth was square and Heaven was round hadn't yet been formed, and cosmology reflected both in Taosi Culture and Lingjiatan Culture, is in accordance with the theory of canopy-heavens.  

With regard to the research methodology for the view of society, Dr. He offered his own idea: before applying to comprehensive methods such as historical documents, behavioral psychology and so on, it must be based on the archaeological research of relics, and the related archaeological data should call back to the culture background. Under the guidance of this idea, he introduced the rule of virtue, together with conception of “the king locates in the territorial center” and political vendetta, which are embodied in Taosi Culture distinctly.    

Furthermore, Dr. He also cited related religious remains in Shijiahe Culture as examples in order to explicitly explain how to conduct archaeological research on views of religious.

Finally, Dr. He concluded that Mental Cultural Archaeology is a very complicated academic system. It needs to be carried out on the foundation of archaeology and combined with various humanity theories and results. At present, there is ample scope for us to explore.                                              Written by Yujuan Wu