The Mace-head: A Significant Evidence of the Early Cultural Interaction between West and East

Author: Li Shuicheng
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 17, Number 2 / September 2018


The archaeological evidence available so far has revealed that the earliest mace-heads first appeared in the Near East about 10,000 BP. along with the early development and spread of agriculture. After that mace-heads began to spread throughout the ancient world: southward to Ancient Egypt Kingdom in North Africa, and northwest to Europe and then to the Eurasian steppe of central Asia and Siberia. Eventually, this movement gradually arrived at the Northwestern region of China. In China, mace-heads were found only in Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Western Shaanxi in Northwestern Chine. In fact, the morphology of these objects is quite similar to those found outside China. The author assumes that maces, as they bear special and symbolic functions, are not the orig-inal or indigenous cultural trait of Chinese civilization. Instead, they are more likely to be exotic goods coming from out-side. The author argues the reasons can be summarized as follow: first, mace-heads in the Near East significantly predate all counterparts in China. Second, the amounts of mace-heads found in China are relatively limited. Third, mace-head discoveries in China are concentrated only in the northwestern area, a pattern explicitly indicating the Western origin of this type of artifacts.