Li Ji (ca 1940)
|Died||August 1, 1979 (aged 83)|
|Known for||Founder of modern Chinese archaeology|
|Thesis||'The Formation of the Chinese People: an Anthropological Inquiry' (1928)|
|Influences||Alfred Tozzer, Roland Burrage Dixon, Earnest Hooton|
|Discipline||Archaeology, anthropology, sociology, psychology|
|Sub-discipline||Chinese prehistory, Ancient Chinese history, archaeology of the Shang dynasty|
Freer Gallery of Art
National Taiwan University
|Notable students||Xia Nai, Kwang-chih Chang|
Li Ji (Chinese: 李濟; July 12, 1896 – August 1, 1979), also commonly romanized as Li Chi, was an influential Chinese archaeologist. He is considered to be the founder of modern Chinese archaeology and his work was instrumental in proving the historical authenticity of the Shang Dynasty.
Li Ji came from a wealthy family of Hubei province, where, in 1896, he was born in the city of Zhongxiang. After his graduation from the Tsinghua University in Beijing he moved to the United States in 1918 to study psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. After he had earned a BA in psychology and a MA in sociology at Clark, he moved on Harvard University to study anthropology. There he studied in particular with Alfred Tozzer (archeology), Roland Burrage Dixon (anthropology) and Earnest Hooton (anthropology) and was awarded a PhD in 1923. His dissertation was later published by Harvard University Press under the title The Formation of the Chinese People: an Anthropological Inquiry (1928). Li Ji returned to China and began teaching anthropology and sociology at Nankai University and later at Tsinghua University. In 1925 and 1926 he conducted archeological excavations of the Yangshao culture in the southern part of the Shanxi province, for which he was invited to join the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. as a field worker. In 1928 he became the first director of the archeology department of the Academica Sinica while continuing to work for the Freer Gallery.
Li Ji led the excavations at Yinxu near Anyang from 1928 to 1937 until the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War prevented further work. Regarded as the first set of archaeological excavations following modern archaeological principles in China, these excavations yielded the discovery of a royal palace and over 300 graves, including 4 royal ones. The recovered artefacts comprised among others early bronze casts and a large number of oracle bones, which represent the earliest significant body of ancient Chinese writing. Those findings finally established historical authenticity of the Shang Dynasty, which had still been a subject of debate up to that point.
After the war Li Ji fled to Taiwan when the communist forces under Mao Zedong took power in mainland China. There he became the head of the archeology and anthropology departments of the National Taiwan University in Taipei. He died on August 1 of 1979 in Taipei.
- 1928: The Formation of the Chinese People: an Anthropological Inquiry
- 1932: Manchuria in History: a summary
- 1957: The Beginnings of Chinese Civilization
- 1977: Anyang
- Gina L. Barnes: Li Chi. In: Neil Asher Silberman (ed.), Alexander A. Bauer (ed.): The Oxford Companion to Archaeology - Band 1. Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 9780199735785, p. 223
- Timothy Murray: Milestones in Archaeology. A chronological encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara California 2007, ISBN 978-1-57607-186-1, pp. 388 (online copy, p. 388, at Google Books)
- Barbara Ann Kipfer: Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. Kluwer Acad./Plenum Publ., New York NY 2000, ISBN 0-306-46158-7, p. 310-311 (online copy, p. 311, at Google Books)
- K.C. Chang: Li Chi: 1896-1979. Asian Perspectives, Vol. 23, No. 2 (1980), pp. 317-321 (JSTOR)
- "Li Chi". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
- Clayton D. Brown: Li Ji: Father of Chinese Archaeology. In: Orientations Vol. 39, No. 3, April 2008, ISSN 0030-5448, p. 61-66.
- Henrika Kuklik: A new History of Anthropology. Wiley 2008, ISBN 978-0-631-22600-0, p. 214-215 (online copy, p. 214, at Google Books)