Ling-yu Hung was an anthropological archeologist who specialized in the early complex societies of China and the prehistory of Taiwan. Her research was cutting edge in applying geoarcheology and GIS technologies to the understanding of ancient communities. She had extensive fieldwork experience and conducted detailed ceramic analyses of Northern China’s Yangshao-Majiayao pottery, with a particular emphasis on craft specialization, ritual practice, and cultural interaction during the Neolithic period (ca. 7000–4000 years ago). At the time of her death, Ling-yu was planning a monograph on Majiayao culture, and she was involved in a multidisciplinary project in the middle Tao River Valley in northwestern China.
The recognition and respect accorded Ling-yu by her colleagues are reflected in her impressive record of invited talks and professional lectures at venues around the world. Her intellectual legacy endures through her many publications in Chinese and English. Ling-yu received prestigious grants and fellowships to support her work, including a grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange and the An Wang Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University. During her year at Harvard in 2015-16, Ling-yu drew on her expertise in Chinese Neolithic pottery to help mount the Harvard Art Museum exhibition, Prehistoric Pottery from Northwest China. She carefully chose the objects and provided the specialized knowledge necessary to create an extraordinary exhibition that showcased the variety and beauty of early Chinese ceramics. According to the museum curator who organized the exhibit, Ling-yu’s contributions have inspired widespread recognition of the research potential of Harvard’s early Chinese ceramic collection.