This book presents the analyses, technical interpretation and socio-economic contextualisation of the production remains of zinc distillation from three Ming sites in Fengdu and one Qing site in Shizhu, Chongqing, southwest China. Zinc ore, zinc metal, retorts and slag from these sites were analysed by OM, SEM-EDS, EPMA-WDS and XRD. Following on from a detailed technological reconstruction, some differences were found between the zinc distillation technologies in Fengdu and Shizhu, not only in technical efficiency but also in the organisation of production, which can be explained as adaptation of the zinc production for coinage to the different social, political and economic constraints affecting each group of sites. This book then contextualises and discusses the significance of Chinese zinc production with reference to coinage in Ming and Qing China, but also by comparing it to other brass- and zinc-making technologies in China, India and Europe, and by assessing the influence of Chinese zinc in the international maritime trade.
Wenli Zhou obtained Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Archaeology from Peking University in 2005 and 2008, and a PhD in Archaeology from UCL in 2012. She joined the Institute for the Natural History of Sciences, CAS, in 2013 and mainly studies zinc distillation, crucible smelting and technical ceramics in China.
`At each of the sites the geological, topographical and historical background is fully explained, together with a well illustrated survey of the archaeological excavations. Following from this the scientific examinations are described clearly and in detail accompanied by excellent illustrations. (…) This is an excellent piece of work; all that the scientific studies of technical processes should be, fully integrating the detailed scientific examination and its conclusions into the broader socio-economic and historical background.` Paul Craddock, Historical Metallurgy, Volume 51(1), 2018