David Keightley

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David N. Keightley
Born (1932-10-25) October 25, 1932 (age 82)
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]


Selected works[edit]

  • 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). "The Religious Commitment: Shang Theology and the Genesis of Chinese Political Culture". History of Religions 17 (3/4): 211–225. JSTOR 1062429. 
  • ——— (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
  • ——— (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. 
  • ——— (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. 


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.