Ying Zheng, founder of the Qin empire, is recognized as a pivotal figure in world history, alongside other notable conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Julius Caesar. His accomplishments include conquest of the warring states of ancient China, creation of an imperial system that endured for two millennia, and unification of Chinese culture through the promotion of a single writing system.
Only one biased historical account, written a century after his death, narrates his biography. Recently, however, archaeologists have revealed the lavish pits associated with his tomb and documents that demonstrate how his dynasty functioned. Debates about the First Emperor have raged since shortly after his demise, making him an ideological slate upon which politicians, revolutionaries, poets, painters, archaeologists, and movie directors have written their own biases, fears, and fantasies.
This book is neither a standard biography nor a dynastic history. Rather, it looks historically at interpretations of the First Emperor in history, literature, archaeology, and popular culture as a way to understand the interpreters as much as the subject of their interpretation.More info →
This groundbreaking volume offers an innovative comparison of these two civilizations. Through a combination of textual, art historical, and archaeological analyses, Ancient Egypt and Early China reveals shared structural traits of each civilization as well as distinctive features.More info →
Law, State, and Society in Early Imperial China (2 Vols): A Study with Critical Edition and Translation of the Legal Texts from Zhangjiashan Tomb No. 247
In Law, State, and Society in Early Imperial China, Anthony J. Barbieri-Low and Robin D.S. Yates offer the first detailed study and translation into English of two recently excavated, early Chinese legal texts. The Statutes and Ordinances of the Second Year consists of a selection from the long-lost laws of the early Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). It includes items from twenty-seven statute collections and one ordinance. The Book of Submitted Doubtful Cases contains twenty-two legal case records, some of which have undergone literary embellishment. Taken together, the two texts contain a wealth of information about slavery, social class, ranking, the status of women and children, property, inheritance, currency, finance, labor mobilization, resource extraction, agriculture, market regulation, and administrative geography.More info →
It is widely believed that assembly-line mass production, quality-control procedures, inventory accounting, and multi-tiered factory management structures are inventions of the modern world, offspring of the mechanization and industrialization whichswept through Western Europe and America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But two thousand years ago in China, during the Han period (206 BC-AD 220), advanced production and management techniques were already implemented in well developed forms in the extensive factory system operated by the Han imperial government. This study was written as Part One of a larger project on workshops and artisans in Ancient China. Part Two was published as the book, Artisans in Early Imperial China (UW Press, 2007).More info →
The burial site known as the Wu Family Shrines in the Shandong Province of northeastern China has served as a benchmark for the study of the Han Dynasty. This book presents scholarship that prompts reexamination of the site’s implications, including its attribution to the Wu family. The catalogue reinterprets the cemetery structures based on the discovery of additional structures and archaeological materials, and evidence that some of the writing and pictorial carvings at the site may have been re-cut over the intervening centuries.More info →
I published a chapter called "Craftsmen's Literacy: Uses of Writing by Male and Female Artisans in Qin and Han China" in this edited volume. The chapter expanded on my treatment of artisan literacy found in my monograph on artisans, also bringing in a stronger theoretical perspective and further examples from Qin and Han lacquer and from the terra-cotta warriors.More info →
I published a chapter in this book that was based on a conference in honor or Orlando Patterson's 35th anniversary of Slavery and Social Death. The chapter called, “Becoming Almost Somebody: Manumission and its Complications in the Early Han Empire,” uses the Zhangjiashan texts to confirm for the first time the status of "freedman" in Ancient China, and demonstrates that the process of manumission and freedman status were in accord with Patterson's cross-cultural findings.More info →
I published a chapter in this exhibition conference volume, "Imagining the Tomb of the First Emperor of China," which will later be expanded for inclusion in my book on the First Emperor.More info →
I published a chapter in this book called, "“Corrupt and Intransigent Officials in Early Imperial China." It builds on my translation of the legal cases and laws in Law, State, and Society in Early Imperial China, to discuss the nature of official corruption and measures taken by the state to suppress it.More info →