ABSTRACT

The diversity of weapons’ materials and types in tomb assemblages has always been a puzzle. To enable analyses of weapons within and across social hierarchies in mortuary data, my investigations are focused on selected elite and non-elite tomb groups. Regarding the identity of those individuals buried with weapons, I challenge previous presumptions of professional soldiers/generals and of the existence of a Shang standing army. By combining archaeological evidence and oracle bone inscriptions, I argue that lineage members were called upon when campaigns were initiated, but otherwise participated in a wide range of activities such as farming and irrigation works. Among the elites, martial prowess was valued and celebrated through the inclusion of large assemblages of weapons of various types and materials in tombs. Case studies of individual weaponry types are presented, using a combination of metric data and textual and archaeological evidence.