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Anderson, Matthew McCutchen . Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, 2015. Change and Standardization in Anyang: Writing and Culture in Bronze Age China. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No. 3722650.)

This dissertation is particularly concerned with various changes that occurred over roughly the last two centuries of the Shang period, that is, during the Anyang period, which stretches from approximately 1250 b.c.e. to approximately 1050 b.c.e. This period, which begins just before the earliest evidence for writing in what is now China and stretches until the fall of the last Shang king, contains the entirety of the recorded history of the Shang dynasty. After discussing the dating of Shang oracle-bone inscriptions, I first address changes in Shang writing, demonstrating that it becomes increasingly regularized over the period. The earliest examples of Shang writing, especially those dating from the reign of king Wu Ding, show high levels of graphic and linguistic variation—that is, graphs/words are written differently from one inscription to the next, syntax is sometimes inconsistent, and aspects like text direction vary wildly; additionally, the semantic content of these inscriptions is far more diverse than is the case toward the end of the period. Using this apparent regularization as a backdrop, I address the Shang's changing relationships with certain non-Shang peoples, especially those known as the fang 方 countries. Palaeographical materials are primarily drawn from the Shang, but later periods also provide useful examples of the kinds of processes at work, and I pay special attention to early examples of Chinese writing found outside Anyang. I focus on the newest collection of scientifically excavated Shang inscriptions, Yinxu Xiaotun cun zhong cun nan jiagu 殷墟小屯村中村南甲骨 (Oracle bones from the center and south of Xiaotun village in the Wastes of Yin), published in 2012. Compared to other collections, relatively little work has been done on this one, and it happens to contain many inscriptions especially relevant to some of the questions under discussion, from issues of dating to the Shang's relationships with other peoples. While other corpora of Shang oracle-bone inscriptions are also essential to this project, this newest collection is its foundation. The second part of this dissertation presents a transcription of the entire collection, together with a full English translation, its first ever into another language.

Liu, Yan . Ph.D. University of Oxford, 2014. Archaeological Manifestations of Rank and Status, the Wooden Chamber Tombs in the Mid-Yangzi Region (206 B.C.–A.D.25).

This dissertation is centered on the roles of wooden chamber tombs in defining, negotiating, and reinforcing status and identity of their owners in the Western Han period (206 b.c.e.–c.e. 25). The archaeological materials under discussion are wooden chamber burials in the mid-Yangzi region, including the modern provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, and north Anhui. This thesis is theoretically influenced by approaches to mortuary studies, considering the active roles of material culture to represent and construct identity and status in the funeral context. My study is accordingly formulated within an analytical framework that focuses on general burial patterns, repetition of status symbols, and case studies of concrete examples. This leads, in particular, to burial analysis looking for evidence of rank and status in mortuary records, envisaging that the Han elites would have deployed specific strategies through meaningful use of material objects to signify different aspects of status. The first chapter defines main concepts such as rank and status; it outlines the physical features of the Western Han wooden chamber tombs and historical background of the mid-Yangzi region and also presents approaches to burial evidence. The second chapter discusses how the Han elites defined rank and status in historical context, and then seeks to identify a range of status indicators through the analysis on a set of institutions and sumptuary rules described in different types of written sources. The analysis of the Zhangjiashan manuscripts explains why the rank matters to the Han elites, and also provides a referential framework of the Twenty Orders ranking system for mortuary analysis. The social analysis of burial evidence consists of three chapters on different aspects of social distinction: power, occupation, wealth, and gender. Each chapter provides a case study with a comparison between archaeological record and related sumptuary rules. The image this dissertation presents radically challenges a notion often taken for granted in traditional Chinese scholarship, that mortuary variability of Han wooden chamber tombs is correlated with the fixed hierarchy regulated by sumptuary rules and specific regulations in written texts.

Lam, Wengcheong . Ph.D. Harvard University, 2015. Production of Commodities and Iron Economy in Early China: A Case Study of a Western Han Iron Foundry at Taicheng. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No. 3738871.)

How the exchange of commodities and control over resources shaped the social world is a major concern in anthropology. In the domain of history, the form and structure of market economy during the Han period is also a long-debated issue. Consequently, the study of imperial control over commodities within an anthropological framework is a promising avenue that sheds new light on debates about the Han commodity economy. This dissertation addresses the production and distribution system of the Han iron industry in order to investigate the nature of commodities and resource control. This project integrates metallurgical and zooarchaeological approaches to analyzing manufacturing remains at an iron foundry site named Taicheng, as well as iron objects from various cemeteries in the Guanzhong basin, Shaanxi, the capital area of the Western Han Empire (202 b.c.e.–9 c.e.). The results provide new evidence demonstrating [that] the “commodity economy” of iron in the capital area, in fact, functioned as a multi-level network system. Even within the same category of iron products, the degree of commodification and the scope of market networks widely varied in the Western Han period, a fact that has been overlooked in previous literature. In addition, the transportation of iron goods to the capital created a massive market network connecting different parts of the Empire and generated the momentum for the capital to dominate over its eastern territory.

Lander, Brian G. Ph.D. Columbia University, 2015. Environmental Change and the Rise of the Qin Empire: A Political Ecology of Ancient North China. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No. 3723368.)

This thesis examines the long-term ecological transformation of the Guanzhong basin, capital region of China's ancient empires, from the origins of agriculture to the fall of the Qin Empire in 208 b.c.e. It employs textual, archaeological and paleoecological evidence to reconstruct the natural environment of the region and examine how it was transformed by the centralization of political power. Following the introduction, the second chapter reconstructs the geology, climate, and ecology of the region before it was converted to farming. After discussing potential reasons why the region was not forested, it describes the many wild animals that once lived there in order to help the reader imagine an ecosystem that has long since disappeared. Chapter 3 explores the environmental impacts of Neolithic and early Bronze Age societies, examining the formation of the North Chinese agricultural system through indigenous domestication and the arrival of already domesticated plants and animals from Central Asia. It also discusses the environmental impacts of these small-scale farming communities. Chapter 4 employs the Book of Odes and other evidence to analyze the human ecology of the Western Zhou period (1045–771 b.c.e.). It then considers the political ecology of the Western Zhou state, arguing that because it remained an alliance of independent economic units, it was far less aggressive towards the environment than later states despite its formidable military reach. Chapter 5 begins by arguing that the constantly increasing scale of warfare in the subsequent Eastern Zhou period (771–221 b.c.e.) prompted states to extend their control over resources and people, leading to the development of centralized bureaucracies. It also discusses the evidence for the origins and spread of iron tools and ox-drawn ploughs in early China. Chapter 6 focuses on the political history of Qin, beginning with its origins, occupation of the Guanzhong, and consolidation up to the fourth century. The second half of the chapter discusses the reforms of Shang Yang, which greatly increased the power of the state over the environment, and the Zheng Guo canal project, which transformed the northeast of the plain. Chapter 7 employs archaeologically excavated documents to analyze the political ecology of Qin during the reign of the First Emperor, who reigned from 246 to 210. Qin's power was based on its rank-based land grant system, state ownership of forests and wetlands, and the large-scale use of convict and slave labor. Because it was so centralized, the Qin state had a remarkable amount of control over how land was exploited in its domain. Although the empire did not last long, its centralized bureaucracy became the standard model of political organization in China, playing an important role in the subsequent spread of agricultural societies across the subcontinent.

Staack, Thies . Ph.D. University of Hamburg, 2015. Reconstructing Early Chinese Bamboo Manuscripts: Towards a Systematic Approach Including Verso Analysis.

For scholars studying bamboo and wood manuscripts from pre-imperial and early imperial China, reconstruction is very basic work. This is due to the fact that these manuscripts usually come to us not in a complete state, but as disordered collections of individual slips. In almost every case the binding strings that once held together several slips to form independent codicological units do not exist anymore, or only remain as traces on individual slips. With regard to the state of the art in manuscript reconstruction, three main aspects deserve further attention. First, even in Chinese scholarship, there are only a few works that approach manuscript reconstruction in a comprehensive or systematic way. Typically, discussion is confined to the special circumstances of a certain manuscript or corpus of manuscripts. Second, certain problems with regard to manuscript reconstruction are often hotly debated but usually not satisfactorily solved. They often boil down to the core problem of distinguishing manuscripts that comprise several self-contained textual units—these may be multiple-text manuscripts (MTM) or composite manuscripts—from separate manuscripts with one self-contained textual unit in each (single-text manuscripts, STM). This fundamental problem is often unsolvable. And even if the possibility of a multiple-text or composite manuscript is considered, the question of the arrangement of self-contained textual units inside such a manuscript is equally difficult to solve. Third, new manuscript publications since late 2010 have enabled analysis of the verso of the slips for a considerable amount of bamboo manuscripts. As it turns out, the slips' verso often contains information that is extremely valuable for the purpose of reconstruction. The so-called “verso lines,” in particular, have become a focus of interest over the last few years, because there appears to be a relation between these lines and the original sequence of the slips in a manuscript. However, this relation has turned out to be rather complex and calls for further clarification. A second phenomenon that sometimes occurs on the verso of the slips, namely mirror-inverted imprints of writing, has not yet received the attention it actually deserves. Although it was shown years ago that such imprints can provide evidence for manuscript reconstruction, they have since rarely been used for that purpose.

The present dissertation aims to fill the mentioned gaps in research and is mainly devoted to two aims. The first is to clarify that an analysis of the verso of the slips can be the key to solving remaining problems (e.g. with regard to multiple-text and composite manuscripts) and to show exactly how verso lines and imprints of writing can be utilized for the purpose of manuscript reconstruction. The second is to systematically approach the reconstruction of early Chinese bamboo manuscripts and develop a comprehensive catalogue of criteria as well as guidelines for reconstruction that take into account possible evidence from the verso of the slips. Although this dissertation is largely confined to the investigation of bamboo manuscripts, some of the findings are equally relevant to the reconstruction of wood manuscripts.

A review of the criteria and methods applied during reconstruction up to the year 2010, when information on the verso of the slips under investigation was generally unavailable, demonstrates that the particular problems of reconstruction mentioned above can in fact usually not be solved with this set of criteria and methods (part 2). Three case studies on the Shanghai Museum Kongzi shilun 孔子詩論, manuscript I of the Yuelu Academy Wei yu deng zhuang si zhong 爲獄等狀四種, and the Yuelu Academy Wei li zhi guan ji qianshou 爲吏治官及黔首 (parts 3 to 5), as well as a reevaluation of the verso line phenomenon (part 6), illustrate what can be gained from an analysis of the verso of the slips. Verso lines can provide additional evidence for sequencing the individual slips of a bamboo manuscript—within certain limits. Verso imprints of writing mostly provide evidence on the three-dimensional structure of a bamboo manuscript. They can therefore be utilized for sequencing groups of slips the position of which in the whole codicological unit cannot be determined by the use of other material or textual criteria. This means that lines and imprints can enable the reconstruction of complete manuscripts, even if this would be impossible without this additional information from the verso of the slips. Provided that both verso lines and imprints can be found in the corpus of slips under investigation, it is therefore in many cases possible to solve remaining problems. The verso imprints, in particular, are useful to determine: first, whether a certain manuscript might have contained more than one layout, script, or type of text; second, whether we are dealing with a multiple-text/composite manuscript or separate codicological units; and third—in case of a multiple-text/composite manuscript—what the sequence of the textual or formerly independent codicological units in such a manuscript was. In conclusion (part 7), it is possible to expand the “traditional” catalogue of criteria and to propose a methodological “roadmap” for reconstruction that draws on this revised catalogue. Together, the catalogue and roadmap can serve as the basis for a comprehensive and systematic approach to manuscript reconstruction.

Verso lines and imprints of writing are not only highly valuable for the purpose of reconstruction but at the same time informative with regard to different aspects of early Chinese manuscript culture, e.g. the production and use of bamboo manuscripts. It can be shown with the help of verso imprints that different types of layout (e.g. with/without registers) were used inside the same manuscript, which was probably a method to distinguish different textual units, just like certain segmentation marks. It can furthermore be gathered from the pattern of the imprints that two of the three manuscripts under investigation were stored in a rolled-up form. That manuscripts were sometimes stored in folded form has recently been demonstrated on the basis of other patterns of imprints. The re-evaluation of the verso line phenomenon does not merely shed new light on the function of the verso lines and show that they were very likely a means to facilitate the production of bamboo manuscripts and to enhance their outer appearance. The investigation of the respective sets of slips, which can be seen as the “codicological sub-units” of bamboo manuscripts similar to the quires of codex manuscripts, also enables conclusions on the diameter of the bamboo culms that were actually used to produce slips.

Tharsen, Jeffrey R. Ph.D. University of Chicago, 2015. Chinese Euphonics: Phonetic Patterns, Phonorhetoric and Literary Artistry in Early Chinese Narrative Texts. Ann Arbor: ProQuest/UMI. (Publication No. 3740073.)

How do we know what Shakespeare's plays sounded like in his time, or Sappho's verses, or the tales of ancient Sumer? As they were written in phonetic scripts, modern historical linguists have largely been able to reconstruct the sounds of these works. Written Chinese has always been a logographic and not a phonetic script, and with the rapid pace of phonetic variation and change, many of the euphonic patterns in ancient Chinese texts of ritual and history have been lost for millennia. While very general categories of rhyme and correlations between characters based on ancient rhyming poetry have been proposed by Chinese scholars throughout the ages, until developments in Western historical linguistics were applied to Chinese over the past century, the sounds of this ancient language remained obscure. However, thanks to modern advances in computer database technology, digital texts, and digital tools, a wide variety of phonological data for ancient Chinese (including several recently developed systems for reconstructed pronunciations) can now be employed to provide empirical documentation and analysis of the lost euphony and phonorhetorical structures in these ancient texts for the first time.

In this study I utilize a tripartite framework for philological inquiry, grounded in the equal consideration of semantics, metrics, and acoustics. In general, over the past two millennia, most Chinese philological studies have focused upon detailed exegeses of the semantics of a word, passage, or text. Metrical features and sentence prosody have also received some attention, as various forms of literary expression in Chinese have been governed by conventions of style and form; this is particularly true of poetry, but also of patterned and parallel prose. This study argues that analyses of the phonetic patterns in a text should also play a significant role in any significant philological study, as it is often in the pairing of acoustic devices with metric and semantic structures that the true breadth, depth, and beauty of literary expression can be felt most acutely. This framework represents a methodological shift in Chinese philology: until recently it was extremely difficult to accurately assess phonetic and acoustic structures in early Chinese texts; this was particularly true for compositions from the distant past. However, thanks to modern technology and recent advances in the field of Chinese phonology, it is now possible for any scholar to efficiently evaluate the acoustic structures of any Chinese text with as much accuracy as the aggregate of available phonological evidence can provide and thereby gain a more complete understanding of its acoustic constitution, its aesthetic and performative features, and the more subtle aspects of literary artistry which informed its composition and transmission.

The phonological foundation of this study has been facilitated by a digital suite of lexical tools that I designed, and which is the first method by which the hurdles to large-scale Chinese lexical spadework in the service of phonological analysis can efficiently be overcome: The Digital Etymological Dictionary of Old Chinese (available online at, via which one can programmatically retrieve a wide range of phonological data, from both ancient and modern resources, for every character in any Chinese text. For this study, I used it to compile and evaluate proposed Old Chinese pronunciations for each graph in three of the earliest corpora of Chinese narrative texts: inscriptions longer than fifty graphs preserved on bronze vessels dating to the Western Zhou dynasty (1045–771 b.c.e.), the ten chapters of the Classic of Documents 《尚書》 which scholars now generally believe were likely originally composed during the Western Zhou, and speeches of over one hundred graphs preserved in the Zuo Commentary to the Spring and Autumn Annals 《春秋左傳》. From these results, I chose four representative inscriptions from the Western Zhou inscriptional corpus, two representative chapters from the Classic of Documents, and three representative speeches from the Zuo Commentary as the basis for the analyses in chapters 2 through 4. In these case studies, complete charts of each text (including a full transcription in Chinese, an Old Chinese phonological reconstruction for each graph, and an English translation) are provided, followed by detailed evaluations of the euphonic patterns and phonorhetorical devices employed within each text. The concluding chapter presents a brief overview of the main types of euphonic patterns and phonorhetorical devices evidenced within each corpus followed by general remarks on the euphonic and phonorhetorical characteristics common to all three corpora, and finds that while there are demonstrable commonalities, yet each corpus exhibits a unique range of euphonic and phonorhetorical devices which distinguishes it from the others, and from other early Chinese literary genres.

Wang, Zhongxiao . Ph.D. Leiden University, 2015. World Views and Military Policies in the Early Roman and Western Han Empires.

This thesis, from a comparative perspective, examines the worldview and its interplay to the frontier and military policies in early periods of the two ancient empires of Eurasia: Rome and Han China. The first part (chapter 1 and chapter 2) concerns the formation and transformation of the world views of Rome and Qin-Han China in their respectively lengthy trajectories of empire-building. It is followed by part two (chapter 3 and chapter 4) in which I shift my focus from ideology to practical issues in an attempt to observe how the distinctive worldviews held by the elite class of Rome and China were manifested and interacted with the actual policy-making and territorial conquests. The last part of the dissertation (chapter 5 and chapter 6) concentrates on the roles of emperors. By highlighting the distinctive roles that the Roman and Chinese emperors had played, it allows its audience to have a better understanding of the similarities, and especially the crucial differences concerning the perception of the world and actual policies discussed above. Also, I hope this tentative comparative study sheds some light on the reflection of the concept of empire in the current scholarship of ancient history.