International Journal of Historical Archaeology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 873–887 | Cite as

The Archaeological Study of an Inner Asian Empire: Using new Perspectives and Methods to Study the Medieval Liao Polity

  • Gwen P. Bennett


Archaeological and historical data, combined with GIS analysis gives us new perspectives on 11th c. medieval period envoy missions from the Song Dynasty (960–1279) to the Liao Empire (907–1125) Middle Capital in Chifeng Inner Mongolia, China. The envoys’ routes can be recreated on maps, and optimal route and viewshed analyses give us insight into the Liao’s concerns about these foreign missions crossing their territory and how they addressed them. Furthermore, population estimates can be made from envoy information that can be used to extrapolate population density estimates from archaeological data for other areas in Chifeng.


Liao Empire Song Dynasty China landscape analysis 



I would like to thank Dr. Joshua Wright (University of Aberdeen, UK), my KLASH Project co-PI, who made the four GIS-based maps used in this article, and Dr. Daniel Waugh (University of Washington, USA) for permission to use his photo of the Da Ming Pagoda. I would also like to thank Professor Naomi Standen (University of Birmingham, UK), my second KLASH Project co-PI, for reading several drafts of the article. Her comments have immensely improved it. I would also like to thank Dr. Michael Wiant, Director of the Dickson Mounds Museum of the Illinois State Museum system for reading the article to insure its clarity for scholars working outside of China. Lastly, the work described in the article was supported by the Social Science Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under Grant 435-2012-0993, awarded to Gwen Bennett at McGill University.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Anthropology and East Asian StudiesMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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