Listen to and Watch Professor Barbieri’s Lectures!

These recorded lectures are based on classroom lectures or public talks I have given.  They are presentations which include both the audio of the lecture and the PowerPoint slides with animations. Some of the more recently posted lectures are mobile capable and one is viewable in virtual reality.  They are best viewed in Google Chrome, though most work in Safari as well, and several are on Youtube. The lectures are copyright, 2006-2022, Anthony Barbieri (or Anthony Barbieri-Low) and may not be used, packaged, or republished for commercial purposes without the express written consent of the author.

Regionalism in Han Dynasty Lacquer Painting

This talk was given at the festschrift for Professor Wen C. Fong at Princeton University in April 2006.  It was later expanded into a book chapter which also included a discussion of regionalism in Han stone-carving. See Bridges to Heaven: Essays on East Asian Art in Honor of Professor Wen C. Fong. 2 Vols (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). In this talk, I look at the regional styles in both decorative and figural lacquer painting during the Han, and explore whether contemporary artists and patrons were consciously aware of these distinctions and how they labeled and navigated these different styles.

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The Eurasian Currents of Transmission and Adaptation

This talk was given at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) in New York.  It presents four case studies of objects and images of material and visual culture which diffused from West to East, or East to West, during the period from 500 BCE to 200 CE. They are the glass eye-bead, Chinese figured silks, Roman silver plate, and the Ionic capital.  I investigate how the receiving culture chose to adapt these motifs (or chose not to) into their own artistic repertoires.  This talk is part of a long-term project which will result in a book tentatively called Eurasian Currents, that will look at such patterns of diffusion and adoption of objects, images, and technologies over the long course of four millennia of Eurasian prehistory and history. (temporarily unavailable)

Imagining the Tomb of the First Emperor of China

This lecture was given at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in October of 2017 and previews the final chapter of my book, The Many Lives of the First Emperor of China (University of Washington Press, 2022).  The talk looks at different imaginings of what might be held in the First Emperor’s unexcavated tomb, by historians, poets, artists, archaeologists, and movie and video game designers.

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Burning the Books and Killing the Scholars: Representing the Atrocities of the First Emperor of China.

This lecture previews one chapter out of my book, The Many Lives of the First Emperor of China (University of Washington Press, 2022). It looks at literary, pictorial, and cinematic depictions of the two infamous atrocities for which the First Emperor has been vilified for centuries, the literary inquisition which outlawed the private possession of most books, and a mass execution of scholars who had misled or slandered him.  The depictions range from Han dynasty historical texts to Tang stele inscriptions, Yuan  Dynasty illustrated historical novels, Ming imperial primers, to modern newspaper editorials, Cultural Revolution propaganda, and big-budget movie productions.

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Providing for the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt and Early China

This lecture previews the final three chapters of my book, Ancient Egypt and Early China: State Society and Culture (University of Washington Press, 2021). The book is the first monograph to seriously compare these two ancient civilizations.  The talk first discusses the methodology of comparative civilizational study, and then introduces three case studies: tomb models and figurines, scribal culture, and finally representations of paradisiacal realms.

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Coerced Migration and Resettlement in the Qin Imperial Expansion

This lecture is a video summary of an article I published in a special issue I edited of the Journal of Chinese History in 2021.  It highlights the role of forcibly moving people during the Qin Dynasty of China, as part of empire construction, including comparisons to other early empires like the Assyrians.

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The Design, Function, and Meaning of Bronze Ritual Vessels of the Shang Dynasty in China

shangbronzesThis lecture was originally presented in November, 2016, as part of the “Art Talks Series” at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.  It showcases my work making 3D models of some of the Shang bronzes in that collection, but really is a comprehensive lecture about Shang bronzes, including how they were made, what function they served, and the history and meaning of their decoration. Special features include an embedded movie showing a modern recreation of bronze casting, and, of course, links to the interactive 3D models.

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World History to 1000 CE

This was my final lecture in the summer of 2017 for my History 2A class, which summarized all the major themes of the course. The lecture was
recorded using a 360 VR camera, and uploaded to YouTube. With the proper browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, YouTube app), one can pan and zoom the lecture, and with virtual reality goggles or Google Cardboard one can simulate actually sitting in the classroom and look around.

The Necropolis of the First Emperor of Qin


This lectures details the tomb of the First Emperor of Qin, including the famous terra-cotta warriors.

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Window onto Ancient China

WindowAncientThis lecture explores the famous Han tombs at Mawangdui, in present-day Hunan Province. The lecture was originally presented at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for the exhibition, The Noble Tombs of Mawangdui. The lecture uses the contents of these remarkably preserved tombs to explore issues of religion, diet, clothing, and other aspects of daily life in Ancient China.

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Legal Principles and the Administration of Justice in Ancient China and Egypt

LawChinaEgyptThis lecture is part of my ongoing research project comparing the social, legal, and economic institutions of Ancient China and Ancient Egypt. It was delivered January 29th, 2016 at the University of Texas at Austin. An earlier version was presented at Columbia University in October of 2015.  The lecture lays out the legal principles and legal infrastructure of Egypt and China and then examines several excavated legal cases concerning robbery and fornication to see how these legal principles manifest themselves in actual practice, all using a comparative perspective.

Start the lecture (opens in a new window/tab) (You might need to click once in the time bar to get the sound to play)

Visions of Immortality and Paradise in Ancient China and Egypt

This lecture was given at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in 2018.  It previews what would become the final chapter of my book Ancient Egypt and Early China: State, Society, and CultureThe talk introduces the concept of the multi-component soul in each civilization and the representations of a paradisiacal realm where part of that soul could reside. Visual representations include paintings on tomb walls, coffins, stone carvings, pictorial bricks, and portable objects.  The last part of the talk introduces the notion of “games of fate,” boardgames and associated rituals that could assist one in gaining access to paradise.

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Artisans of Ancient China

ArtisansThis lecture, based on the award-winning book Artisans in Early Imperial China, was delivered on Sunday November 15, 2009 as part of the exhibition  The Noble Tombs of Mawangdui, at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. In viewing objects like those found at Mawangdui, their anonymous creators generally remain in obscurity. This lecture focuses on these oft forgotten individuals, the men and women who crafted objects in private workshops and government factories during the Han Dynasty of China (202 BCE-220 CE). Among the topics to be discussed are artisan training, societal perception, tools and techniques, and marketing. Special attention will be given to lacquer workshops and artisans, like those that produced the beautiful pieces in the exhibition.

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Telling a Story with Pictures:
Modes of Early Chinese Narrative Illustration


This lecture is one of my absolute favorites. It is based on research from my PhD program at Princeton University in Chinese Art History.  It explores the methods of narrative illustration seen in Greece, Rome, and India, categorized by art historians as simultaneous, monoscenic, segmented, and continuous.  It then explores these modes in the history of Chinese art by looking at stories of filial sons as depicted on coffins and funerary shrines.  Finally, it questions whether the most sophisticated method of continuous narrative illustration was imported into China with Buddhism or whether traces of it can be found in Warring States or Han depictions.

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History from Things

JobTalkLongerThis lecture was originally written as my job talk for the position of Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  It explores several innocent looking objects of material culture from ancient China, and how we can explore larger issues of economic and social history through them.

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