HIS 364G • Early China: History and Archaeology
This course will examine the ancient roots of Chinese civilization, from the fluid mix of regional cultures in the Neolithic period (beginning ca. 8000 B.C.E.) through the establishment of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.E.-220 C.E.). In addition to covering major political developments, we will pay close attention to religious, intellectual, and social trends, as well as to changes in the material culture of ancient China. Throughout the course we will focus particularly on recent archaeological discoveries and their impact on the historiography of ancient China. Nearly eighty years of modern archaeology in China has produced a wide array of data that have revolutionized our understanding of ancient history. As new texts and artifacts continue to be unearthed, historians struggle to reconcile this new knowledge about the past with a received historical tradition that goes back 2000 years. This tension between received historical knowledge and modern archaeology puts archaeology at the heart of fierce historiographic debates. This course will explore these issues by examining early Chinese history in light of major archaeological discoveries of texts and materials, discussing both the content of the discoveries and their impact on the historiography of ancient China.
Class participation: 20% Presentation: 20% Short paper: 20% Midterm quiz: 15% Final exam: 25%
Nicola Di Cosmo, Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy, eds., The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 B.C. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999). Denis Twitchett and Michael Loewe, eds. The Cambridge History of China, vol. 1, The Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 B.C.-A.D. 220 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). Burton Watson, trans. The Tso Chuan: Selections from China's Oldest Narrative History (New York: Columbia University Press: 1992). Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, trans., Selections from Records of the Historian, by Sima Qian (Beijing: Beijing Foreign Languages Press, 2002). Many of the readings for the course will be contained in a course packet.