Papers on Premodern History I

Early China
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room A

  • Chaired by Yegor Grebnev
  • Jakub Maršálek, “On the Frontier of Two Worlds: Imports in the Cemetery of Liuwan”
  • Yegor Grebnev, Alice Yu Cheng “Reconsidering the Early History of the ‘Eastern Capital’ of Zhou at Luoyi through Reassessment of Textual Sources and Archaeological Evidence”
  • Tsang Wing Ma, “The Evidence of “Accordion Fold” in Qin China: An Analysis of the Materiality of Tablet nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6] from Liye, Hunan”
  • Anthony Terekhov, “Two Types of Omen Classification in the ‘Wuxingzhi’ Chapter from Hanshu

Jakub Maršálek, “On the Frontier of Two Worlds: Imports in the Cemetery of Liuwan”

It is widely acknowledged that during the Late Neolithic and particularly in the following Early Bronze Age Periods, the region of the Chinese Northwest gradually became part of the still widening network of contacts. However, while scholars traditionally paid considerable attention to interactions of the local cultures with areas both to the East and West, their southward contacts became focus of research only in recent years, mainly due to the excavations of an important Zongri site. Those attracted attention to issue of relations of agricultural populations from the lower areas of the Northwest with foraging groups on the northern fringes of the Tibetan Plateau. In my paper, I will consider this issue in a case study of the well-known Liuwan cemetery, spanning over time approximately from the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE to the middle of the following millennium. Over this long period, the cemetery most likely represents continuous development of one local community, probably originating in local foragers which went through acculturation in contact with agricultural immigrants from the lowlands. In order to map the interaction network of this community, I will focus on the imported materials— jade, turquoise, and cowrie shells—and I will point out that their occurrence offers rather surprising pattern which is best to be explained by the different areas of their origin, the turquoise and cowrie shells probably being obtained via traditional contacts with foragers on the Tibetan Plateau.

Yegor Grebnev, Alice Yu Cheng “Reconsidering the Early History of the ‘Eastern Capital’ of Zhou at Luoyi through Reassessment of Textual Sources and Archaeological Evidence”

In this paper, we re-examine textual and archaeological evidence related to the foundation of an “eastern capital” at Luoyi 洛邑 after the conquest of Shang by Zhou in the mid-eleventh century BC. According to traditional accounts, the new city was conceived by King Wu 周武王 and completed by the Duke of Zhou 周公. As pointed out by Khayutina (2008), the Eastern capital is repeatedly highlighted in the shu 書 (scriptures) but largely absent from the shi 詩 (odes), which prioritise the earlier ritual centres in the west. We elaborate this line of inquiry by proposing translations and analysis of two previously unexplored chapters of the Yi Zhou shu 逸周書 (Leftover Zhou Scriptures): “Duo Yi” 度邑 (Making Measurements of the Capital) and “Zuo Luo” 作雒 (Establishment of the Capital at Luo). We propose that these texts—as well as other texts in the shu corpus—reflect Eastern Zhou attempts to reshape the foundational past by linking the Zhou conquest of Shang directly to the establishment of Luoyi, thereby reflecting a possible Eastern Zhou filter in the history of the formation of the shu corpus. By surveying recently discovered archaeological evidence, we further challenge the traditional account pointing out the discrepancies between textually and archaeologically attested periods of active construction and occupation of the “capital” site(s) at the area of Luoyi.

Tsang Wing Ma, “The Evidence of ‘Accordion Fold’ in Qin China: An Analysis of the Materiality of Tablet nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6] from Liye, Hunan”

The late sinologist Tsuen-hsuin Tsien insightfully pointed out that the early Chinese bamboo and wooden slips are stored in two ways: one was the “roll form” in which the slips were rolled up as a scroll after being bound with a cord. Another was the “accordion form” in which the slips was placed face to face, from which the modern volume is derived. Despite having no physical evidence to prove his assumption of the second type of storage at his time, his categorisation is later proved correct by the newly-excavated texts. Some scholars have already suggested that some of the bamboo slips in the Tsinghua manuscript collection were stored in accordion form. Yet, such examples are those considered literary/intellectual texts, which were written on thin and long bamboo slips. The Qin administrative archive excavated from Liye in Hunan offers the first attested Qin example of this accordion form. The three flat tablets examined in this paper are nos. 9-2283, [16-5] and [16-6], which are of approximately same width and length. Analyzing the mirror-inverted imprints and the track of binding cords on these three tablets, I argue that they had been folded up as an “accordion” for storage after being bound with two sets of cord. This case study allows for a reconsideration of many issues regarding to the written administration under the Qin, including the way in which the administrative documents were filed.

Anthony Terekhov, “Two Types of Omen Classification in the Wuxingzhi Chapter from Hanshu”

The tradition of omen interpretation played a considerable part in Early Chinese political culture. Among the indications of its importance is the abundance of Chinese words designating omens: in early Chinese texts there are more than twenty different characters bearing semantics of this kind. Yet, in the majority of cases these terms are used indiscriminately, and only in the special works do the authors distinguish them to form some kind of omen typology. The oldest classification systems of this kind has been preserved in the earliest omenological work that has survived in its entirety—”The Treatise on the Five Processes” (Wuxingzhi) from Hanshu by Ban Gu (32–92 AD). It is a compendium of the earlier works of this kind, and thus it has preserved remnants of a few different systems of omen classification, two of them being most complete and coherent. Both originate from now lost omenological works: the first one goes back to the main source for the treatise—Hongfan wuxing zhuan lun by Liu Xiang (77–6 BC), itself based on earlier Hongfan wuxing zhuan (first part of the 2nd c. AD), and the second one to Yizhuan by Jing Fang (78–37 BC). The paper will introduce these two types of omen classifications, the principles of their organisation, and terms for the designation of omens used within, as well as meditate on the reasons for their differences and on the Early Chinese typologies in general.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 2
Early China