SOAS University of London

Centre of Buddhist Studies

The Archaeology of Buddhism in Eastern China

Lukas Nickel (SOAS)

Date: 20 March 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 20 March 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Kamran Djam Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Lecture


During the 6th century popular Buddhist devotion in China reached its first climax. Temples and monasteries were established many towns and cities. Monks, nuns and lay believers engaged in donating and making of figures on a large scale. Most examples found so far come from northern China, from the area of the modern-day provinces of Shaanxi, Hebei and Shandong.

The current paper will discuss several archaeological sites in Shandong province where images were discovered. It will especially introduce the results of the recently excavated Temple of the White Dragon in Linqu county, a small temple that was active during the 6th and 7th century AD. The paper will place the finds into a wider context and address some open questions concerning the practice of Buddhist sculpture making during this period.


Lukas Nickel studied Sinology, Oriental Archaeology and East Asian Art History in Berlin, Halle and finally Heidelberg where he wrote his PhD on Han funerary archaeology. Before joining SOAS he worked as curator of Chinese art at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne and as lecturer in Chinese art and archaeology at Zurich University. In Zurich he prepared the exhibition and the catalogue Return of the Buddha for the Museum Rietberg, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Royal Academy in London and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. Beginning in 2002, Lukas Nickel organized a joint Swiss-Chinese excavation of a Buddhist temple site in Shandong province. In 2004 he received an appointment jointly by the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, and SOAS, to teach on the arts and archaeology of early and medieval China and of the Silk Road, and was invited to a full position at SOAS in 2011.

Organiser: Dr. Vincent Tournier

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