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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Archaeology of Early Imperial China

Course Code:
154900142
Unit value:
0.5
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 2

The course will provide an overview of developments in the material culture of China from its first unification in the 3rd cent. BC to the Middle ages around 900 AD, and will relate them to changes in the broader culture. At the end of the course, students will better understand the broad outlines of Chinese historical development during the period in question; understand how to read and interpret archaeological remains of early imperial China; be familiar with a broad range of artefacts, tombs and their equipment, and archaeological traces of aboveground structures; have an understanding of some current issues in the scholarly discourse on early China as well as be aware of the relationship of archaeological remains and ancient and modern political ideas.

Students should also advance their ability to construct an argument in both oral and written form; research a topic and construct a bibliography and assimilate new material to relevant theories and methods in the history of art.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The course will provide an overview of developments in the material culture of China from its first unification in the 3rd cent. BC to the Middle ages around 900 AD, and will relate them to changes in the broader culture. At the end of the course, students will:

  • Better understand the broad outlines of Chinese historical development during the period in question.
  • Understand how to read and interpret archaeological remains of early imperial China.
  • Be familiar with a broad range of artefacts, tombs and their equipment, and archaeological traces of above ground structures.
  • Have an understanding of some current issues in the archaeological discourse on early China.
  • Be aware of the relationship of archaeological remains and ancient and modern political ideas.

Students should also advance their ability to:

  • Construct an argument in both oral and written form.
  • Research a topic and construct a bibliography.
  • Assimilate new material to relevant theories and methods in the history of art.

Method of assessment

2 essay's of 1,500 words =30%/exam =70%

Suggested reading

  • Stanley K Abe, 2002. Ordinary Images. University of Chicago Press.
  • Lothar Ledderose, 2000. Ten Thousand Things: Module and Mass Production in Chinese Art. New York: Princeton University Press (the chapters on atchitecture and on the army of the First Emperor).
  • Martin J. Powers, 1992. Art and Political Expression in Early China. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.
  • Yang Xiaoneng ed. New Perspectives on China's Past: Chinese Archaeology in the Twentieth Century. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.