Yan Cai

  • PhD Student - Archaeology

Yan Cai is interested in investigating the range of sociopolitical variation and identifying factors and forces that produce Pacific island societies (mostly chiefdoms) with characteristics, as well as to investigate how these forces interact with each other in single cases. Her dissertation specifically focuses on the role of local scale productive differentiation and economic interdependence in the development of socio-political complexity in Ngkeklau stonework village of Palau (1200-1800AD). Her research attempts to reconstruct the nature and degree of  productive differentiation and other kinds of social differentiation (wealth, prestige and ritual differentiations) in the Ngkeklau village by analyzing the inter-household variation of archaeological assemblages. By studying the extent that any kinds of differentiation characterize households within Ngkeklau village and the connection between them, her research is going to examine the anthropological hypothesis about the relations of agriculture productivity, community structure and local-scale productive differentiation, that is generated based on the comparison of four other Pacific island societies.

Degrees and Education

M.A. Major in Archaeology, Jilin University, 2010-13
B.A. Major in Archaeology, Xiamen University, 2006-10


Teaching Instructor, University of Pittsburgh (2018 summer)
Teaching Assistant, University of Pittsburgh (2014-Now)


Cai, Yan 蔡彦and Mingyu Teng 滕铭予, 2017.  The Making Technique of the Tile-Ends in the Warring-States Period to the Early Han Dynasty and Relevant Issues 战国汉初瓦当制作工艺及相关问题研究, Kaogu Xuebao (Acta Archaeologica Sinica) 3:357-372.

Cai, Yan 蔡彦, 2015. The Development of Taiwanese Aboriginal Culture from A Prehistoric Settlement Distribution Perspective 从史前聚落地理变迁看台湾原住民文化的发展, Huaxia Kaogu (Chinese Archaeology) 2:68-78.