WildChina > Podcast > Episode 14: Sanxingdui and Archaeology in Sichuan

For our fourteenth episode, we head to the Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan province with Harvard’s anthropology department professor of archaeology, Rowan Flad.

Dr. Flad shares insights on the importance of the Sanxingdui findings, an overview on archaeological sites across China within the context of Chinese history, and of course recommendations for archaeological sites in China open to visitors. 

A little about Sanxingdui… 

The archaeological site of Sanxingdui, often cited as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, is located approximately one-hour (by car) from the Chengdu. 

The findings at Sanxingdui radically changed the previous monolithic theory of China’s cultural development throughout history and opened the door for the concept of multiple cultures and societies existing independently at that time (12th to 11th century BC), eventually merging and morphing into what we now know as China.  

Listen to Episode 14:

Episode Overview:
  • 02:10 – How Rowan got into Chinese archaeology 
  • 06:04 – Sanxingdui mask and overall excavation 
  • 13:15 – What was the Sanxingdui site originally 
  • 19:36 – Terracotta Warriors vs Sanxingdui (history of archaeological finds in China) 
  • 28:38 – Varying interests in European and Egyptian archaeological finds vs Chinese ones 
  • 33:55 – The “public archaeology” craze in China 
  • 37:45 – How to visit archaeological sites in China 

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Places, resources and tips mentioned in the podcast:

Dr. Rowan Flad

Sanxingdui Site, Sichuan

Jinsha Site, Sichuan 

Rowans Archaeology in Sichuan recommendations

  • Sanxingdui Museum and Archaeological Site, Sichuan 
  • Jinsha Museum and Archaeological Site, Sichuan  

Rowan’s book recommendations: 

Articles quoted in this podcast: 


Bronze human head unearthed from sanxingdui site, Sichuan, China

Archaeology in Sichuan
Jinsha Site Museum

Archaeology in Sichuan
Jinsha Gold Mask

National Geographic Cover about the Terracotta Warriors findings in 1978