David Keightley

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David N. Keightley
Born (1932-10-25) October 25, 1932 (age 83)
London, England, United Kingdom
Citizenship American
Fields Chinese history
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Education Columbia University
Doctoral advisor Hans Bielenstein
Other academic advisors Burton Watson
Known for Studies of oracle bone script
Notable awards Guggenheim Fellowship (1978)
MacArthur Fellowship (1986)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 吉德煒
Simplified Chinese 吉德炜

David Noel Keightley (born October 25, 1932) is an American sinologist, historian, and scholar, and was for many years a professor of Chinese history at the University of California, Berkeley.[1][2] Keightley is best known for his studies of Chinese oracle bones and oracle bone script.

Life and career[edit]

David N. Keightley was born on October 25, 1932, in London, England. He attended Columbia University as an undergraduate, then worked for 10 years at publishing companies in New York City.[3] He then lived in Taipei, Taiwan for two years where he studied Chinese at the Stanford Center (modern Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Study).[3] In 1967, Keightley returned to Columbia for doctoral study under the Swedish sinologist Hans Bielenstein. He received a Ph.D. in 1969 with a dissertation entitled "Public Work in Ancient China: A Study of Forced Labor in the Shang and Early Chou".

After receiving his Ph.D. in 1969, Keightley was selected to replace Woodbridge Bingham (1901–1986) as professor of East Asian history at the University of California, Berkeley, and taught at Berkeley until his retirement. Keightley became one of the leading Western scholars of Chinese oracle bones, which contain the earliest known examples of Chinese writing, leading American sinologist Edward Shaughnessy to state that Keightley "has done more to introduce the depth and breadth of early China's oracle-bone divination to Western readers than any [other] scholar."[4]




  • Keightley, David N. (1969). "Public Work in Ancient China: A Study of Forced Labor in the Shang and Early Chou". Ph.D. dissertation (Columbia University).
  • ——— (1978). Sources of Shang History: The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of Bronze Age China. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.  Google Books.
  • Keightley, David N., ed. (1983). The Origins of Chinese Civilization. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press.  Google Books
  • ——— (2000). The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China (ca. 1200-1045 B.C.). Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley. 
  • ——— (2014). These Bones Shall Rise Again: Selected Writings on Early China. Albany: SUNY Press. 


  • ——— (1978). "The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture". History of Religions. 17 (3/4): 211–225. doi:10.1086/462791. JSTOR 1062429. 
  • "Archaeology and History in Chinese Society." In W.W. Howells and Patricia Tuschitani, eds., Paleoanthropology in the People's Republic of China. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1977:123-129.
  • "On the Misuse of Ancient Chinese Inscriptions: An Astronomical Fantasy." History of Science 15 (1977):267-272.
  • "Space Travel in Bronze Age China?" 'The Skeptical Inquirer 3.2 (Winter 1978):58-63
  • "The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture." History of Religions 17 (1978):211-224
  • "The Bamboo Annals and Shang-Chou Chronology." Harvard journal of Asiatic Studies 38 (1978):423-438
  • "The Shang State as Seen in the Oracle-Bone Inscriptions." Early China 5 (1979-80):25-34
  • "The State," "Divination," "Religion," "The Economy," "Bronze Working," in Brian Hook, ed., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. pp. 163-65.
  • "The Late Shang State: When, Where, and What?" in Keighcley, ed., The Origins of Chinese Civilization (1983):523-564
  • "Late Shang Divination: The Magico-Religious Legacy." In Henry Rosemont, Jr., ed., Explorations in Early Chinese Cosmo/qgy. Journal of the American Academy of Religion Studies 50.2 (1984): 11-34
  • "Reports from the Shang: A Correction and Some Speculations." Early China 9-10 (1983- 1985):20-39, 47-54
  • "Main Trends in American Studies of Chinese History: Neolithic to Imperial Times," The History Teacher 19.4 (August 1986):527-543
  • "Zhongguo zhi zhengshi zhi yuanyuan: Shang wang zhanbu shifou yiguan zhengchue? ffilll iEZ.i1frl :J§i.:E r!i H:-l{iE (The Origins of Orthodox Historiography in China: Were the Shang Kings Always Right?)." Guwenziyanjiu J5)(-'¥lilf Jt. 13 (1986):117- 128
  • "Archaeology and Mentality: The Making of China." Representations 18 (Spring 1987):91-128. (Chinese version published as "Cong kaogu qiwu kan Zhongguosiweishijiedexingchengf>t J5W ffillj.';!!,f.ttfil1!¥- l'J{] m/£,"

Zhongguo wenhua yu Zhongguo zhexue tp lilt){fu Biltp IIfi 1988: 466-500. A second Chinese version, tr. by Chen Xingcan £, published as "Kaoguxue yu sixiang zhuangtai-Zhongguo de chuangjian 15* . . - ffilll l'J{].ll ." Huaxia kaogu. •t: J5 1993.1:97-108. *"Prehistory" and "The First Historical Dynasty: The Shang." The New Encyclopædia Britannica: Macropaedia (Chicago 1987) 16:62-67

  • Astrology and Cosmology in the Shang Oracle-Bone Inscriptions." Cosmos 3 (1987):36-40
  • "Shang Dynasty," in Ainslee T. Embree, ed., Encyclopedia of Asian History (New York, Scribner's: 1988) 3:426-429
  • [Translator] Wang Ningsheng, "Yangshao Burial Customs and Social Organization: A Comment on the Theory of Yangshao Matrilineal Society and Its Methodology," Early China 11-12 (1985–87):Cr-32
  • "Shang Divination and Metaphysics," Philosophy East and Wl>st 38.4 (October 1988):367-397
  • [Translator, with Igarashi Yoshikuni] Toyoda Hidashi and lnoo Hideyuki, "Shigaku zasshi: Summary of Japanese Scholarship," Early China 13 (1988): 297-327
  • "The Origins of Writing in China: Scripts and Cultural Contexts," in Wayne M. Senner, ed., The Origins of Writing (University of Nebraska Press, 1989):171-202
  • "Comment" (in the Early China Forum on Qiu Xigui, "An Examination of Whether the Charges in Shang Oracle-Bone Inscriptions Are Questions"), Early China 14 (1989):138-46
  • '"There Was an Old Man of Changan. . .': Limericks and the Teaching of Early Chinese History," The History Teacher 22.3 (May 1989):325-28.
  • "Zhongguoren shi zenmeyang chengwei zhongguoren de? 9=1 lm1J A.;t; .r£A 9=11m1J A. (How Did the Chinese Become Chinese?)." Zhongguo wenhua yu Zhongguo zhexue Cf:' E::fC. {hjil cp IiiW •(1988) (Beijing).
  • "Craft and Culture: Metaphors of Governance in Early China." Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Sinology. Section on History and Archaeology (Taibei, 1989):31-70
  • "Zhongguo gudai di jiri yu miaohao i:p lm1J f\:s8 ii (Lucky Days and Temple Names in Ancient China)." Yinxu bowuyuan yuankan (chuangkan hao} Mi#Jf:W1'm iHBfiJ (IJflJ) 1989:20-32
  • ——— (1999). "The Shang: China's First Historical Dynasty". In Loewe, Michael; Shaughnessy, Edward. The Cambridge History of Ancient China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 232–291. 
  • "Early Civilization in China: Reflections on How It Became Chinese." In Paul S. Ropp, ed., Heritage of China: Contemporary Perspectives on Chinese Civilization (University of California Press, 1990):15-54. (Translated: [l] as "I.:antica civilta della Cina: riflessioni su come divenne 'cinese."' In Paul S. Ropp, ed., L'eredita delta cina [Turino: Fondazione Giovanni Agnelli, 1994]:33-68; [2] "Fansi zaoqi Zhonguo wenhua zhi chengyin &.

!f!.M i:j:l lm1J )C-ft Z..r£1:51." In Luo Puluo mi#¥ (Paul Ropp), ed., Meiguo xuezhe Jun Zhongguo wenhua l!!!UJUUt tf:' l!il)(:ib. [Beijing: Zhongguo Guangbo dianshi chubanshe, 1994]:17-52.)

  • Ancient Chinese Art: Contexts, Constraints, and Pleasures," Asian Art 3.2 (Spring 1990):2-6
  • "The Quest for Eternity in Ancient China: The Dead, Their Gifts, Their Names." In George Kuwayama, ed., Ancient Mortuary Traditions of China: Papers on Chinese Ceramic Funerary Sculptures. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991):2-12
  • "Clean Hands and Shining Helmets: Heroic Action in Early Chinese and Greek Culture." In Tobin Siebers, ed., Religion and the Authority of the Past. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993):13-51
  • "A Late Shang Divination Record ." The Columbia Anthology of Traditional Chinese Literature. Ed. Victor H. Mair. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. pp. 3–4.
  • "Sacred Characters." In Robert E. Murowchick, ed., China: Ancient Culture, Modern Land (North Sydney: Weldon Russell), 70-79. {Distributed by University of Oklahoma Press.)
  • "Early Jades in China: Some Cultural Contexts, Social Implications." Collecting Chinesejade. 16-19. Bernstein, S. ed. San Francisco: S. Bernstein & Co., 1995.
  • "Bibliography" (72 annotated and indexed items) for American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature . Ed. Mary Beth Norton. Oxford University Press, March 1995
  • "Chinese Religions-The State of the Field: Part I, Early Religious Traditions: The Neolithic Period Through the Han Dynasty {ca. 4000 B.C.E.-220 C.E.): Neolithic and Shang Periods." journal of Asian Studies 54.l (1995): 128-45.
  • "A Measure of Man in Early China: In Search of the Neolithic Inch." Chinese Science 12 (1994–95): 16-38
  • "Art, Ancestors, and the Origins of Writing in China." Representations 56 (Fall 1996): 68-95.
  • "Shang Oracle-Bone Inscriptions." In Edward L. Shaughn, ed., New Sources of Early Chinese History: An Introduction to the Reading of Inscriptions and Manuscripts. Berkeley: Society for che Study of Early China, Special Monography series, 1997: 15-56.
  • "Shamanism, Death, and the Ancestors: Religious Mediation in Neolichic and Shang China (ca. 5000-1000 B.C.)." Asiatische Studien 52.3 (I998):763-831.
  • "The Environment of Ancient China." In Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy, eds., The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 30-36.
  • "The Shang: China's First Historical Dynasty." In Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy, eds., The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999, 232-91.
  • "At the Beginning: The Status of Women in Neolilthic and Shang China." Nannu: Men, Wlmen and Gender in Early and Imperial China 1 (1999): 1-62.
  • 'The Oracle-Bone Inscriptions of the Late Shang Dynasty." In Wm. Theodore de Bary and Irene Bloom, eds., Sources of Chinese Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, pp. 3-23.
  • "Theology and the Writing of History: Truth and the Ancestors in the Wu Ding Divination Records."Journal ofEastAsian Archaeology 1.1-4 (I999):207-30.
  • "Lun taiyang zai Yindai de rongjiao yiyi iifjl:: {E)N:{ B<J*jc@:tl" (The Religious Significance of the Sun in Shang Times). Yindu xuekan Iili!S flj 1999.1:16-21. Tr. by Liu Xueshun.
  • "Shang Oracle Bone Inscriptions from Anyang, Henan Province." In The Golden Age ofArchaeology: Celebrated Discoveries from the People's Republic of China, ed. Xiaoneng Yang. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1999. pp. 182–86.
  • "Die chinesischen Orakelnochen." In OrakeL·Der Blick in die Zukunft,. eds. Axel Langer, and Albert Lutz. Zurich: Museum Rietberg, 1999. pp. 18–33.
  • "What Did Make the Chinese 'Chinese'?: Musings of a Would-be Geographical Determinist." Lotus Leaves 3.2 (Summer 2000): 1-3.
  • "The Diviners' Notebooks: Shang Oracle-Bone Inscriptions as Secondary Sources." In Actes du Collogue International Commlmorant le Centenaire de /,a Dlcouverte des Inscriptions sur Os et Carapaces; Proceedings of the International Symposium in Commemoration of the Oracle-Bone Inscriptions Discovery. Eds. Yau Shun-chiu and Chrystelle Marechal. Paris: Editions Languages Croises, 2001. pp. 11–25.
  • "Kwang-chih Chang (1931-2001)." Journal of Asian Studies 60.2 (2001):619-21.
  • "Epistemology in Cultural Context: Disguise and Deception in Early China and Early Greece." In Early China, Ancient Greece: Thinking Throut,h Comparisons, eds. Steven Shankman and Stephen Durrant . Albany: State University of New York Press, 2001. pp. 119–53.
  • "Shang Dynasty." Microsoft Encarta Reference Library 2002.
  • "Comment on Cecilia F. Klein, et al., 'The Role of Shamanism in Mesoamerican Art." Cumnt Anthropology 43.3 June 2002):408-09.
  • Ji, Dewei. "Si er bu wang: Zhang Guangzhi de gongxian 1Effii='FC : J't][

(f.J - " Sihai i ]ia: Zhuinian kaogu xuejia Zhang Guangzhi ll!J#J}

  • il* :Jlt][. Li Ling, ed. in chief. Beijing: Sanlian, 2002. pp. 195–98.
  • "The Making of the Ancestors: Late Shang Religion and Its Legacy." In John Lagerwey, ed., Chinese Religion and Society: The Transformation of a Fu/ti.. \4JL I. Hong Kong: Ecole Franse d'Extreme-orienc and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2004. pp. 3–63.
  • "Marks and Labels: Early Writing in Neolithic and Shang China." Miriam T. Stark, ed., Archaeology of Asia. Blackwell, 2006. pp. 177–201.
  • "Sacred Waste: Theirs or Ours." In Christoph Anderl and Halvor Eifring, eds., Studies in Chinese Language and Culture: Festschift in Honour of Christoph Harbsmeier on the Occasion of the 60th Birthday. Oslo: Herma. pp. 3–12.
  • David N. Keightley, "The Period V Ritual Postface: Prospective or Retrospective." Early China 35-36 (2012-2013), 57-68.


  • "[Review of] Shima Kunio . '5, Inkyo bokuji sorui JN: !-;¥ ." Monumenta Serica 28 (1969):467-471
  • "[Review of] The Origins of Statecraft in China: Volume One: The Western Chou Empire. By Herrlee G. Creel." Journal of Asian Studies (1971) 30.3:655-658
  • "'Benefit of Water': The Approach of Joseph Needham." Journal of Asian Studies 31 (1972):367-371
  • "Religion and the Rise of Urbanism." Journal of the American Oriental Society 93 (1973):527-538
  • "Where Have All the Swords Gone?: Reflections on the Unification of China." Early China 2 (Fall 1976):31-34
  • "Ping-ti Ho and the Origins of Chinese Civilization." Harvard journal of Asiatic Studies 37 (1977): 381-411
  • "The Cradle of the East: Supplementary Comments. "Early China 3 (1977):55-61. '*'Akatsuka Kiyoshi and the Culture of Early China: ASrudy in Historical Method." Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 42 (1982):267-320. (Review of Akatsuka Kiyoshi ' " ChUgoku kodai no shU kyo to bunka: in ocho no saishi .)
  • "Shang China is Coming of Age: A Review Article." Journal of Asian Studies 41 (1982):549-557
  • "[Review of) Wang Yii-hsin .±*f, Chien-kuo yi-lai chia-ku-wen yen-chiu

»'.1111.l!J..*'¥ '.lt:)(?iJf . " Harvard journal of Asiatic Studies 42 (1982): 331-34. (Chinese translation published in Lishi jiaoxue 中國史研究動態 1981.11:62-63.)

  • "[Review of] Jean A. Lefeuvre, Fa-kuo so-ts' ang chia-ku lu (Collections d'inscriptions oraculaires en France; Collections of Oracular Inscriptions in France." Journal of the American Oriental Society 109.3 (1989):482-484. (Chinese translation in Zhongguo shi yanjiu dongtai t:p!jjJ Wf j'UfJ 1990.11:16-18.)
  • "Oracle-Bone Collections in Great Britain: A Review Article," Early China 14 (1989): 173-82 (Chinese translation in Zhongguo shiyanjiu dongtai 中國史研究勵態 1991.7:20-24.)
  • "[Review of) Kokotsu moji: Hito mono kokoro," Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 50.1 (1990) :378-83.
  • "Sources of Shang History: Two Major Oracle-Bone Collections from the People's Republic of China," Journal of the American Oriental Society 110.1 (1990):39-59.
  • "Interactions, Weak and Strong (Commentary on Pulleyblank, 'Early Contacts Between Indo-Europeans and Chinese')." International Review of Chinese Linguistics 1.1 (1996):27-29.
  • "Graphs, Words, and Meanings: Three Reference Works for Shang Oracle-Bone Studies, With an Excursus into the Religious Role of the Day or Sun." [Review Article of: Matsumaru Michio 松凡道雄 and Takashima Kenichi 高螞謙一. Kokotsumoji ]ishaku Soran 甲骨文宇字釋綜覽; Yao Xiaosui 姚孝遂 and Xiao Ding eds., Yinxujiagu keci moshi zongji 殷墟甲骨刻辭蔡釋總欒; Yao Xiaosui and Xiao Ding, eds., Yinxu jiagu keci leizuan, lfitEflff tlM ] . Journal of the American Oriental Society 117.3 (1997):507-24.
  • "Comment on Cecilia F. Klein, et al., 'The Role of Shamanism in Mesoamerican Art." Current Anthropology 43.3 Oune 2002) :408-09.


Works cited
  • Johnson, David (1995). "DNK – Some Recollections, In Celebration". Early China. 20: vii–x. JSTOR 23351757. 
  • Shaughnessy, Edward (1995). "The Origin of an Yijing Line Statement". Early China. 20: 223–240. JSTOR 23351757.