Rowan Flad

Professor of Anthropology


Rowan Flad (傅羅文) researches the emergence and development of complex society during the late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age in China. He has conducted excavations at a salt production site in the eastern Sichuan Basin and has recently completed a regional survey in the Chengdu region focusing on prehistoric settlement patterns and social evolution. New research is focused on the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age in southern Gansu. Current research and writing projects focus on several aspects of social complexity including: specialized production and technology, the anthropology of value, mortuary analysis, archaeological landscapes, interregional interaction, cultural transmission, and animal and plant domestication.

He has published extensively on archaeology in China in many edited volumes and journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Current Anthropology, The Holocene, Antiquity, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Journal of Field Archaeology, Asian Perspectives, Journal of East Asian Archaeology, Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Kaogu, and Nanfang Minzu Kaogu. He co-edited a book on specialization in the series Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association, and is the author of Salt Production and Social Hierarchy in Ancient China: An Archaeological Investigation of Specialization in China’s Three Gorges, published by Cambridge University Press in 2011, and Ancient Central China: Centers and Peripheries Along the Yangzi River, also by Cambridge in 2013.

Research Interests: diachronic change in production processes; intersection between ritual activity and production; the role of animals in early Chinese society – particularly their use in sacrifice and divination; and processes involved in social change in general.

Selected Publications


  • Rowan Flad and Pochan Chen (2013). Ancient Central China: An Archaeological Study of Centers and Peripheries along the Yangzi River. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Rowan Flad (2011). Salt Production and Social Hierarchy in Ancient China: An archaeological investigation of specialization in China’s Three Gorges. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Recent Articles and Chapters

  • Womack, Andrew, Timothy Horsley, Hui Wang, Jing Zhou and Rowan Flad (In Press). Assessing Site Organization and Development Using Geophysical Prospection at Dayatou, Gansu, China. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports TBD.
  • Hung Lingyu 洪玲玉, Wu Haosen 伍浩森, Ha Ke 哈克, Zhou Jing 周静, Wang Hui 王辉, Chen Bozhen 陈伯桢, Li Shuicheng 李水城, Fu Luowen 傅罗文 (2019) Qijiaping: Qijia wenhua dianxing yizhi yanjiu de xin jinzhan 齐家坪:齐家文化典型遗址研究的新进展 (Qijiaping: Recent developments in the investigation of the type site of the Qijia culture). Submitted to Kaogu yu wenwu 考古与文物 [Archaeology and Cultural Relics] 2019(3): TBD
  • Womack, Andrew, Hui Wang, Jing Zhou and Rowan Flad (2019). Continuity and Change: A Petrographic Analysis of Clay Recipes in late Neolithic Northwestern China. Antiquity TBD.
  • Yitzchak Jaffe and Rowan Flad. (2018) Prehistoric globalizing processes in the Tao River Valley, Gansu, China? In Ancient Globalizations and people ‘without’ history, edited by Nicole Boivin and Michael Frachetti, pp. 131-161. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Shuicheng Li and Rowan K. Flad (2018). Archaeology of Salt in China. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology. Edited by C. Smith, pp. 1-11. Cham, Springer International Publishing.
  • Rowan Flad (2018) Urbanism as Technology in Ancient China. Archaeological Research in Asia 14:121-134.
  • LeLe Ren, GuangHui Dong, HaiMing Li, Dave Rhode, Rowan K. Flad, GuoQiang Li, Ying Yang, ZhongXin Wang, LinHai Cai, XiaoYan Ren, Dongju Zhang, FaHu Chen (2017) Dating Human Settlement in the East-Central Tibetan Plateau During the Late Holocene. Radiocarbon 60(1): 137-150.
  • Andrew Womack, Yitzchak Jaffe, Lingyu Hung, Zhou Jing, Wang Hui, Li Shuicheng, Pochan Chen, Rowan Flad (2017) Mapping Qijiaping: New work on the type site of the Qijia Culture. Journal of Field Archaeology 42(6):488-502. 
  • Jianping Zhang, Houyuan Lu, Peter Weiming Jia, Rowan Flad, Naiqin Wu, and Alison Betts (2017) Cultivation strategies at the ancient Luanzaganzi settlement on the easternmost Eurasian steppe during the Late Bronze Age. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 26(5): 505-512.
  • Jianping Zhang, Houyuan Lu, Guoping Sun, Rowan Flad, Naiqin Wu, Xiujia Huan, Keyang He, and Yonglei Wang (2016) Phytoliths reveal the earliest fine reedy textile in China at the Tianluoshan site. Nature: Scientific Reports 6: 18664.
  • Chengdu Pingyuan Guoji Kaogu Diaochadui 成都平原国际考古调查队 [Rowan Flad, Tim Horsley, Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, He Kunyu, Gwen Bennett, Pochan Chen, Li Shuicheng, Jiang Zhanghua, Jiang Ming] (2015). Songjiaheba: Chengdu Pingyuan Qingtong shidai xiaoxing juluo de tianye diaocha, fajue ji diquiwuli kantan 宋家河坝:成都平原青铜时代小型聚落的田野调查,发掘及地 球物理勘探 (Songjiaheba: The survey, excavation and archaeological geophysics at a small-scale Bronze Age settlement in the Chengdu Plain). Nanfang minzu kaogu 南方民族考古 [Southern ethnoarchaeology] 11: 231-246.
  • Rowan Flad, Timothy Horsley, Jade D’alpoim Guedes, He Kunyu, Gwen Bennett, Li Shuicheng and Jiang Zhanghua (2014). Survey, Excavation and Geophysics at Songjiaheba – A Small Bronze Age Site in the Chengdu Plain. Asian Perspectives 52(1):119-142.
  • Danielle Raad, Li Shuicheng, Rowan K. Flad (2014) Testing a novel method to identify salt production pottery via release and detection of chloride ions. Journal of Archaeological Science 43: 186-191.
  • Rowan Flad (2013). Animal Exploitation at Zhongba during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. In Salt Archaeology in China: Ancient Salt Production and Landscape Archaeology in the Upper Yangzi Basin: Studies of Zhongba, Vol. 3, ed. by Li Shuicheng and Lothar von Falkenhausen, pp. 254-293. Beijing: Kexue Chubanshe.
  • Rowan Flad (2013). The Oracle Bones of Zhongba: Divination at an Early Salt Production Site. In Salt Archaeology in China: Ancient Salt Production and Landscape Archaeology in the Upper Yangzi Basin: Studies of Zhongba, Vol. 3, ed. by Li Shuicheng and Lothar von Falkenhausen, pp. 294-337. Beijing: Kexue Chubanshe.
  • Zhao Zhijun and Rowan Flad (2013). Report on the Floatation Results from the Zhongba Site in Chongqing. In Salt Archaeology in China: Ancient Salt Production and Landscape Archaeology in the Upper Yangzi Basin: Preliminary Studies, Vol. 3, ed. by Li Shuicheng and Lothar von Falkenhausen, pp. 394-419. Beijing: Kexue Chubanshe.
  • Rowan Flad (2013). The Sichuan Basin. In A Companion to Chinese Archaeology, ed. by Anne Underhill, pp. 125-146. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • D’Alpoim Guedes, Jade, David Carrasco, Rowan Flad, Ethan Fosse, Michael Herzfeld, C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Cecil M. Lewis, Matthew Liebmann, Richard Meadow, Nick Patterson, Max Price, Meredith Reiches, Sarah Richardson, Heather Shattuck-Heidorn, Jason Ur, Gary Urton, Christina Warinner (2013). Is Poverty in our Genes? : A Reply to Ashraf and Galor. Current Anthropology 54(1):71-79.
  • Rowan Flad (2012). Bronze, Jade, Gold, and Ivory: Valuable Objects in Ancient Sichuan. In The Construction of Value in the Ancient World, ed. by John Papadopoulos and Gary Urton, pp. 258-287. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology.