Listen to and Watch Professor Barbieri’s Lectures!

These recorded lectures are based on classroom lectures or public talks I have given.  They are flash-based 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.  The lectures are copyright, 2006-2019, 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.

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.

Start the lecture (opens a new window/tab) [Flash required]

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.

Start the Lecture (opens a new window/tab) [Flash required]


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.

Start the Lecture (opens a new window/tab) [Flash required]


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) (Flash or mobile capable).

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.

Start the lecture (opens a new window/tab) (Flash or mobile capable)


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.


Start the lecture (opens a new window/tab) (Flash or mobile capable)


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.

Start the Lecture (will open a new window/tab) [Flash required]




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

Sammy_Lee_2008_Postcard_Page_1This lecture was presented as the 2008 Sammy Yukuan Lee Lecture Series on Chinese Archaeology and Art at UCLA. Click below for excerpts from the lecture and an interview on the topic with David Schaberg of UCLA.

For centuries, the brutal and tyrannical reign of Qin Shihuangdi, First Emperor of China, was summed up by a four-character phrase, fenshu kengru, “He burned the books and buried the Confucian scholars alive.” This refers to two separate, largely unrelated, incidents that the historian Sima Qian tells us took place late in the reign of the First Emperor. He wove them into the historical narrative as evidence of the emperor’s increasing paranoia and as omens of his imminent loss of Heaven’s favor. In the first incident, the First Emperor decreed that private copies of the Book of Documents, Book of Songs, and the histories of the defeated rival states be banned and turned over to the authorities for destruction. This literary inquisition resulted in an enormous loss of historical knowledge and cultural heritage and earned the First Emperor the enmity of book-revering Confucian scholars for two millennia. While there is abundant historical proof for the so-called “burning of the books,” the second atrocity, the alleged killing of 460 Confucian scholars, by burying them alive in a pit, has been greatly misinterpreted, and may have never occurred. Nevertheless, for over two millennia, authors and artists have linked these two incidents and used them in representations to vilify the First Emperor, and, on occasion, to praise him. This talk will examine how these atrocities have been portrayed in literature, monuments, and pictorial art from the Han Dynasty to the Cultural Revolution, with special focus on the political motivations behind these representations.

Video Interview and Excerpts