IUPUI researcher to host international conference exploring China’s ancient links to Africa

Ian McIntoshINDIANAPOLIS — Ian McIntosh, associate director of the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis and director of international partnerships at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has been awarded a $17,800 grant from the Confucius Institute Headquarters Division of Sinology and China Studies to host a conference, “Exploring China’s Ancient Links to Africa.”

The conference will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October.

It will be attended by some of the world’s leading archaeologists in this field, including Sada Mire, director of antiquities in Somaliland, Felix Chami of Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania, and Qin Dashu of Peking University, China. IUPUI’s strategic partner in China, Sun Yat-sen University, will be represented by two leading archaeologists, professors Zhu Tiequan and Wensuo Liu.

“This conference will help to shed light on this early movement of peoples, especially Chinese navigators and traders, and their relationship with African merchants, especially from the Axumite Empire,” McIntosh said.

An Australian anthropologist, McIntosh is a co-founder of the Past Masters, an international team of heritage specialists, historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. The Past Masters received widespread media attention with their expedition to uncover the significance of medieval African coins from the long-abandoned Swahili settlement of Kilwa discovered in Tanzania on a remote island in northern Australia.

Participants at the conference will speak to connections between China and Africa, as far back as the Han Dynasty in the first century of the Common Era. Chinese coin and pottery finds from along the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa and also in East Africa, dating to the Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, will also be discussed.

For more information, contact McIntosh at imcintos@iupui.edu.