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The seminar focuses on early Chinese civilization from the Neolithic Age to the Han Dynasty and brings together scholars from all Early China related fields: history, archaeology, art history, literature and language, religion and philosophy. The seminar will facilitate interregional exchanges by inviting distinguished Sinologists from other parts of the country, and will publicize new archaeological discoveries.

Seminar Website

Glenda Chao

Ethan Harkness

Yong-ha Kim

Meeting Schedule

09/29/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
CANCELLED--Stirrings of the Heart, Stirrings of the Cosmos: The Worlds of Classical Chinese Aesthetics
Paul R. Goldin, University of Pennsylvania

10/20/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Hunting and Warfare: History of Shi 勢 in Early China
Boqun Zhou, University of Hong Kong

11/10/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Hepu and the Maritime Silk Road
Francis Allard, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

12/08/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
On the Newly Identified Phrase ‘Worry is gone’ yōu wáng 憂亡, in the Shāng Oracle Bone Inscriptions”
Adam Schwartz, Hong Kong Baptist University

02/02/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Tracing the Origins and Evolution of the Signature System in Early Imperial China
Hsinning Liu, Academia Sinica

03/29/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Local Administrative Centers and their Transitions during the Warring States and Qin-Han Period
Tao Guo, Columbia University / Central China Normal University (China)


The Warring States and Qin-Han period marked the establishment of the county and commandery system, during which the local administrative centers gradually shifted from counties to commanderies, moving from decentralization to centralization. This talk will examine the changes in the relationship between the central and local authorities and within the regional administration during different stages from the Warring States to the early Han dynasty. It will reveal the time points and political mechanisms behind the formation of phenomena such as the dominance of commanderies, the concentration of power to the county court, the division of county magistrates and prefects, and the allocating of specific duties to officials during the Han dynasty.

04/19/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
4:30 PM
Remembrance in Clay and Stone: Early Memorial and Funerary Art of Southwest China
Hajni Elias, University of Cambridge


This talk, based on the manuscript of the same title, examines the artistic tradition of Southwest China in the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 C.E.), with a focus on the geographical area of present-day Sichuan province. The ‘ancient art of Sichuan’ exhibits notable differences from the artistic traditions in other parts of the Han Empire. Pictorial brick tiles, decorated stone sarcophagi and memorial stelae are introduced in the talk to highlight some of the socio-economic, political and cultural influences that illustrate how the Southwest, which, far from being a ‘barbarian’ uncivilized border region as early historiography largely suggests, had a distinct, vibrant and sophisticated regional heritage visibly reflected in its art.