Yecheng (Kent) Cao

Ph.D., 2019
Chinese Art


Kent Cao is an Assistant Professor of Art and Archaeology at Duke Kunshan University and Duke University. Previously, he was the Asia Network | Henry Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Asian Art History hosted by Florida State (New College, State Honors College). Kent graduated with a Ph.D. in Chinese art and archaeology under the supervision of Professor Emeritus Robert Bagley. Before Princeton, he received M.St. in Archaeology from the University of Oxford, and read Archaeology and Anthropology at University College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Kent’s work has been supported by the Smithsonian, Henry Luce Foundation, Getty Research Institute, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

From art historical and technical perspectives, his first monograph manuscript examines the rise of the indigenous bronze industry in the Yangtze River region in south China between the 14th and the 9th century BCE. In the 15th century BCE, the Erligang state expanded from the Central Plain in north China, and along the way disseminated its highly established bronze art and metallurgy. Understanding how the Yangtze societies digested this foreign art form and independently developed its own bronze practice enables us to rethink the formation of China from a frontier perspective. This research project also contributes to our theoretical modeling of how the transmission of ideas and technologies occurred transregionally in early complex societies.

Kent Cao’s next book project explores the revival of bronze archaism and antiquarianism in Song China and Kamakura Japan. This book aims to offer a multivalent account of the synergy of political aspirations, ritual prestige and artistic renaissance in Medieval East Asia.