International Journal of Historical Archaeology, 1998 vol. 2 no 4 pp. 321–341
Early Chinese texts speak of the Han state conquering the kingdom of “Dian” in southwest China in 109 B.C. The limited historical record is complemented by archaeolgical discoveries pointing to the presence in Yunnan province of a complex Bronze Age society whose association with the historical Dian has been generally accepted. Historiographic and “nonprocessual” in nature, archaeology in Yunnan has yet to generate the data needed for a deeper understanding of Dian social structure and change. Whatever its shortcomings, however, Dian archaeology plays a consistent and important role within a system of thought which gives preeminence to the historical record.