Potential scale of industrial outputs of the bronze bell casting industry in 500 BCE China

Kin Sum (Sammy) Li*, Haiwang Liu, Keith Wilson, Xueqing Chen, Kin San Lee, Qin Fang, Xu Qin, Yu Liu, Tsz Hin Chun, Haoran Jiang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Abstract

The potential scale of industrial outputs in the ancient world is often underestimated in current archaeological studies due to the lack of surviving artifacts for validation of the production scale. However, production traces left on extant artifacts can help us reconstruct production methods, and thus reveal the potential scale of production outputs of certain industries, even although there may not be a sufficient number of existing artifacts to demonstrate such volumes. The bronze bell casting industry operating in around 500 BCE in Xinzheng in Henan province, China, can be used as an example to demonstrate the then use by bell casters of the “pattern-block method” to efficiently create multiple bells sharing identical components. With their strong focus on efficiency, production speed, and low production costs, these casters intelligently designed assembly lines and assembled identical components replicated from models to prepare molds for casting. Knowledge of their production methods and currently preserved bells can provide evidence that the bell casting industry produced industrial outputs on a massive scale that was rare in the ancient world. This article also shows how innovative methods such as 3D model superimposition can be used to validate these hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
Number of pages14
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Volume16
Issue number5
Early online date10 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bell
  • Casting
  • China
  • Industrial output
  • Model
  • Mold
  • Xinzheng

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