JUNE 15 – 6PM – LIGHT OF KAILASH LECTURE #4: What does modern archaeology tell us about Zhang Zhung?
JUNE 15, 6PM UK TIME
What does modern archaeology tell us about Zhang Zhung? With Prof. Mark Aldenderfer
For many practitioners of Yungdrung Bon, the existence of a civilization called Zhang Zhung as the center and focal point of belief is an unquestionable reality. Chinese documents of the 7th and 8th C CE attest to the presence of a complex society as a center of power in the badlands of western Tibet in what is now in Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Although these documents do not name a specific site as the seat of political power of the polity, some Tibetologists and archaeologists believe that it is the so-called “Silver Palace” described by Giuseppe Tucci, found near the modern village of Kyunglung along the banks of the Sutlej River. Others have suggested it is a site called Khardong upriver from the palace. But recent archaeological discoveries by teams of Chinese archaeologists have shown that there are other important sites in the region, many of which have gold, textiles, and other objects imported from Central Asia and beyond. In this presentation I will describe these sites and assess archaeological evidence from what many believe is the ancient Zhang Zhung polity.
About the Speaker
Mark Aldenderfer is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology and Heritage Studies at the University of California, Merced and holds the Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship Endowed Chair. His research focuses the comparative analysis of high altitude cultural and biological adaptations from an archaeological perspective. From 1997-2005 he conducted field work in and around the domain of the Zhang Zhung in western Tibet. In 2008, he began a new project of survey and excavation in Upper Mustang, Nepal, to explore early religious practices and their transformation over time.