Robert E. Murowchick

Director, International Center for East Asian Archaeology

Assistant Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology

Office: ICEAACH, 650 Beacon Street, Suite 505
(617) 358-8006

Dr. Murowchick is Director of the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History (ICEAACH) at Boston University, where he also teaches on the faculty of Boston University’s Department of Archaeology. He is also an Associate in East Asian Archaeology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Dr. Murowchick previously served as Associate Director of Harvard’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning from 1990-1992, and then concurrently as Associate Director of Harvard’s John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research and of its Title VI National Resource Center for East Asian Studies from 1992-1996. He is active with many Asian Studies-related public outreach efforts with Primary Source, NCTA (the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia), the Archaeological Institute of America, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Children’s Museum, and many other institutions.

Areas of Interest

Development of early metallurgy in China and Southeast Asia; Archaeological remote sensing (particularly the use of aerial and satellite imagery); Relationship among politics, nationalism, and archaeological research; Cultural heritage preservation and the international trade in antiquities


Professor Murowchick earned a B.A. in Archaeology from Yale College, and an M.A. in Regional Studies: East Asia and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. His doctoral dissertation, “The Ancient Bronze Metallurgy of Yunnan and Its Environs,” combined ethnographic and archaeological data with laboratory analyses to examine the relationship between the Bronze Age cultures of southwest China and Vietnam. Dr. Murowchick lived and taught in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, from 1981-1983 for the Yale-China Association.

Research Interests and Fieldwork

Dr. Murowchick’s principal research interests include the development of early metallurgy in China and Southeast Asia, archaeological remote sensing (particularly the use of aerial and satellite imagery), and the relationship among politics, nationalism, and archaeological research, and cultural heritage preservation and the international trade in antiquities. Since 1991, Dr. Murowchick has served as Co-Investigator and then as Co-Principal Investigator of the collaborative archaeological field program Investigations into Early Shang Civilization, between the Peabody Museum (Harvard University) and the Institute of Archaeology (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing). This project traces the origins of the Shang civilization through an interdisciplinary program of geological testing and landscape reconstruction, geophysical remote sensing, and archaeological excavation focused on the region of Shangqiu County in eastern Henan Province, China. His current collaborative work focuses on investigations of non-ferrous metallurgy in southwest China, the history of Chinese bronze studies, and the development of the ARC/Base Project, a comprehensive, multilingual web-based bibliographic database of Asian archaeology and related fields.

Courses Offered in the Department of Archaeology

Representative Publications

  • (With David J. Cohen). “Early Complex Societies in Northern China,” in Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn (eds.), The Cambridge World Prehistory. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 772-796, 2014.
  • “’Despoiled of the Garments of her Civilization’: Problems and Progress in Archaeological Heritage Management in China,” in Anne P. Underhill (ed.), A Companion to Chinese Archaeology, pp. 13-34. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2013.
  • Kwang-chih Chang, 1931-2001. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2012.
  • “Heritage Protection,” in David Pong (Editor-in-Chief), The Encyclopedia of Modern China, vol. 2, pp. 199-202. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009.
  • “The Excitement and the Challenge of Understanding China’s Past,” in Elizabeth Nelson et al., The Enduring Legacy of Ancient China, pp. xxi-xxvi. Boston: Cheng and Tsui Co., 2006.
  • “Jinshi wu sheng, kou zhi ze ming: Yige xuesheng de zhuinian 金石無聲, 扣之則鳴:一個學生的追念 [Bronzes and stones have no sound, but striking them brings forth their voice: A student’s remembrance]” (in Chinese), in Sun Xiaolin 孫曉林 (ed.), Si hai wei jia: Zhuinian kaogu xuejia Zhang Guangzhi xiansheng 四海為家:追念考古學家張光直(Remembering Archaeologist Zhang Guangzhi), pp. 273-279. Beijing: Sanlian Press, 2002.
  • (with Lothar von Falkenhausen and Chen Xingcan). “Zhang Guangzhi zuopin mulu 張光直作品目錄 (A Bibliography of the writings of Kwang-chih Chang), in Sun Xiaolin (ed.), Si hai wei jia: Zhuinian kaogu xuejia Zhang Guangzhi xiansheng (Remembering Kwang-Chih Chang, Archaeologist and Anthropologist), pp. 323-353. Beijing: Sanlian Press, 2002.
  • (Co-edited with David J. Cohen). New Research Trends in the Archaeology of China: A Tribute to K. C. Chang. Special issue of The Review of Archaeology 22 (2) (Fall 2001) (Williamstown, MA).
  • (with David J. Cohen). “Introduction: K.C. Chang and Chinese Archaeology Today,” The Review of Archaeology, Vol. 22 (2): 1-4, 2001.
  • (with David J. Cohen). “Searching for Shang’s Beginnings: Great City Shang, City Song, and Collaborative Archaeology in Shangqiu, Henan.” The Review of Archaeology 22 (2) (Fall 2001), pp. 47-61.
  • (with Chen Xingcan). “Bibliography of Works by Kwang-chih Chang: Supplementary Listing,” Journal of East Asian Archaeology, Vol. 3, No. 1-2 (2001): 349-371.
  • “The Political and Ritual Significance of Bronze Production in Ancient Yunnan,” Journal of East Asian Archaeology, Vol. 3, No. 1-2 (2001): 133-192.
  • “The State of Sino-Foreign Collaborative Archaeology Projects in the PRC,” Orientations, June 1997: 26-33. Hong Kong.
  • (editor). China: Ancient Culture, Modern Land. Sydney: Weldon Russell Publishing Company. Published in the US under the same title, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994. Published in German as China: Ein geschichtlicher und kultureller Streifzug durch die Jahrtausende. Munich: Orbis Verlag (2002); in French as Chine terre de civilizations. Paris: Éditions Bordas (1996); and in Spanish as Cunas de la civilización China. Barcelona: Ediciones Folio S.A. (1995).
  • “The Interplay of Bronze and Ritual in ancient Southwest China,” Journal of Metals 42(2) (1990): 44-47.
  • “A Curious Sort of Yankee: Personal and Professional Notes on Jeffries Wyman (1814-1874).” Southeastern Archaeology 9(1) (1990): 55-66.
  • “The Development of Early Bronze Metallurgy in Vietnam and Kampuchea: A Re-examination of Recent Work.” In Robert Maddin (ed.), The Beginning of the Use of Metals and Alloys, pp. 182-199. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988.


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