SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Lukas Nickel

Dipl.Sin. (Berlin), PhD (Heidelberg)
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Lukas Nikel
Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Reader in Chinese Art History and Archaeology

School of Arts

Reader in Chinese Art History and Archaeology

Centre of Buddhist Studies

Member, Centre of Buddhist Studies

Dr Lukas Nickel
Email address:
020 7898 4454
020 7898 4479
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Brunei Gallery
Office No:


Lukas Nickel studied Sinology, Oriental Archaeology and East Asian Art History in Berlin, Halle and finally Heidelberg where he wrote his PhD on Han funerary archaeology. Before joining SOAS he worked as curator of Chinese art at the Museum of East Asian Art in Cologne and as lecturer in Chinese art and archaeology at Zurich University. In Zurich he prepared the exhibition and the catalogue Return of the Buddha for the Museum Rietberg, the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Royal Academy in London and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C. Beginning in 2002, Lukas Nickel organized a joint Swiss-Chinese excavation of a Buddhist temple site in Shandong province. In 2004 he received an appointment jointly by the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, and SOAS, to teach on the arts and archaeology of early and medieval China and of the Silk Road, and was invited to a full position at SOAS in 2011.



Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Beibei Zhan, Wedding Ritual in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD): Prescriptions, Practices and the Discourse (tentative title)
  • Biqing Ouyang, Mirror production in the Wu Kingdom (220-280AD)
  • Eleanor Lipsey, Musical Instruments in Literature of Six Dynasties China
  • Ilse Timperman, Investigating the Emergence of Early Niche Graves in the Turfan Basin (Xinjiang, P.R. China) (c. 300 BCE–300 CE)
  • Lia Wei, Rock-cut caves in the Upper Yangzi River: Identifying a stone working tradition (2nd to 3rd century CE)
  • Malcolm McNeill, Narrative Agency in 13-14th Century Chan Figure Painting: A Study of Hagiography-Iconography Text-Image Relationships
  • Sara Peterson, Plant iconography at Tillya-tepe in the context of the art of West and Central Asia

Previous PhD Students

Chien Li-Kuei, 'The Siwei Bodhisattva – The Contemplating Image in Popular Buddhism of Sixth Century China', 2010


Lukas Nickel's research focuses on several aspects of the art and archaeology of ancient and medieval China and on early cultural exchanges between China and the West. In his research on Chinese art he joins art historical, archaeological, philological, as well as technological investigation methods. He has curated a show on Buddhist art from Qingzhou, Shandong, for the Museum Rietberg Zurich and several other museums and has organised an archaeological excavation of a Buddhist temple site in Linqu county, Shandong province.

Current research

Current research includes an investigation of the prehistory of the Silk Road, particularly early contacts during the period of the First Emperor of China as well as the study of ancient bronze artefacts and their production methods for which he employs archaeological experiments. He is also pursuing research on silver objects with foreign-inspired decoration and on Buddhist sculpture of Shandong province.

Conference organisation

Lukas Nickel is convenor of the East Asian Art and Archaeology Research Seminars (EARS) at SOAS and organised several workshops and conferences:

  • Conference Archaeology of the Southern Taklamakan: Hedin and Stein’s Legacy and New Explorations The British Library and SOAS, Organised with the Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology, 8-10th November 2012
  • Conference Emergence of Bronze Age Societies – A Global Perspective, ICCHA conference held in Baoji, China, 8 – 12 November 2011
  • MPhil training programme Research Training in the History of Chinese Art and Archaeology, SOAS, 21-24 December 2010
  • Comparative workshop Reigning beyond death - Tombs and world rulers, held during the British Museum Exhibition “The First Emperor – China’s Terracotta Army” in cooperation with ICCHA and SOAS, at the British Museum, 15 March 2008.
  • Workshop Cultural Encounters between Han and Tang, co-sponsored by the School of Oriental and African Studies and ICCHA, at SOAS, 23 February 2007


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise


Authored Books

Nickel, Lukas (2011) Gräber der Han-Zeit in Luoyang. Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag. (Münchner Ostasiatische Studien vol 83)

Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Nickel, Lukas, ed. (2002) The return of the Buddha: Buddhist sculptures of the 6th century from Qingzhou, China. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.

Nickel, Lukas, ed. (2002) Return of the Buddha: the Qingzhou discoveries. London: Royal Academy of Arts.

Nickel, Lukas, ed. (2001) Die Rückkehr des Buddha: chinesische Skulpturen des 6. Jahrhunderts; der Tempelfund von Qingzhou. Zürich: Museum Rietberg.

Book Chapters

Nickel, Lukas (2014) '南越银盒- 异域风格的秦代银器.' In: Cao, Wei and Rehren, Thilo, (eds.), 秦时期冶金考古 – 国际学术讨论会文集, International Symposium on Qin Period Metallurgy and its Social and Archaeological Context. Beijing: Kexue press, pp. 84-94.

Nickel, Lukas (2013) '砖叠苍穹—新莽墓葬建筑与绘画中的宇宙象征.' In: Wu, Hung (巫鸿) and Zhu, Qingsheng (朱青生) and Zheng, Yan (郑岩), (eds.), 古代墓葬美术研究, 第2 辑 (Studies on Ancient Tomb Art, vol. 2). Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, pp. 95-105.

Nickel, Lukas (2012) 'Brick Built Heavens – Cosmic Symbolism in Tomb Architecture and Painting of the Han Period.' In: Jungmann, Burglind and Schlombs, Adele and Trede, Melanie, (eds.), Shifting Paradigms in East Asian Visual Culture: A Festschrift in Honour of Lothar Ledderose / Grenzverschiebungen in der visuellen Kultur Ostasiens: eine Festschrift für Lothar Ledderose, Edited by Burglind Jungmann, Adele Schlombs, and Melanie Trede. Berlin: Reimer Publishers, pp. 43-58.

Li , Zhenguang and Nickel, Lukas and Wu, Shuangcheng and Yao , Xiuhua (2012) '临朐“白龙寺”佛教遗存探析.' In: 齐鲁文物 1. Beijing: Kexue press, pp. 40-52.

Nickel, Lukas (2011) 'The Prehistory of Religion in China.' In: Insoll, Tim, (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 442-456.

Nickel, Lukas (2011) '亚洲视野中的兵马俑.' In: Zheng, Yan and Wu, Hung, (eds.), Studies on Ancient Tomb Art vol. 1 古代墓葬美术研究(一). Beijing: Wenwu press, pp. 23-40.

Nickel, Lukas (2011) '不完美的对称―重新思考中国古代青铜铸造技术.' In: Chen, Jianli and Liu, Yu, (eds.), Shang Zhou qingtong taofan zhuzao jishu yanjiu 商周青铜器陶范铸造技术研究. Beijing: Wenwu press, pp. 23-48.

Nickel, Lukas (2009) 'Les premières interactions à travers l’Eurasie.' In: Zhao, G. and Whitfield, S., (eds.), La route de la Soie. Un voyage à travers la vie et la mort. Brussels: Fonds Mercator.

Nickel, Lukas (2009) 'Tonkrieger auf der Seidenstrasse? Die Plastiken des Ersten Kaisers von China und die hellenistische Skulptur Zentralasiens.' In: Zurich Studies in the History of Art/Georges Bloch Annual, vol. 13-14, 2006-07. Zurich: University of Zurich, Institute of Art History, pp. 124-149.

Nickel, Lukas (2008) 'Longxing Temple and the Discovery of the Sculpture Hoard.' In: The Lost Buddhas: Chinese Buddhist Sculpture from Qingzhou. Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Nickel, Lukas (2008) 'Reassembling a Han Tomb from Luoyang.' In: Lawton, Thomas, (ed.), New frontiers in global archaeology: defining China's ancient traditions. New York: AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences and Humanities, pp. 143-161.

Nickel, Lukas (2007) 'The Terracotta Army.' In: Portal, Jane, (ed.), The First Emperor – China's Terracotta Army. London: British Museum, pp. 159-179.

Nickel, Lukas (2002) 'Der Longxing-Tempel von Qingzhou und der Skulpturenfund.' In: Nickel, Lukas, (ed.), Die Rückkehr des Buddha: chinesische Skulpturen des 6. Jahrhunderts; der Tempelfund von Qingzhou. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, pp. 41-62.

Nickel, Lukas (2002) 'Longxing Temple in Qingzhou and the Discovery of the Sculpture Hoard.' In: Nickel, Lukas, (ed.), The Return of the Buddha: the Qingzhou discoveries. London: Royal Academy of Arts, pp. 34-44.

Nickel, Lukas (2002) 'Longxing Temple in Qingzhou and the Discovery of the Sculpture Hoard.' In: Nickel, Lukas, (ed.), The return of the Buddha: Buddhist sculptures of the 6th century from Qingzhou, China. Zürich: Museum Rietberg, pp. 41-62.

Nickel, Lukas (2000) 'Der Klang der Glocken auf CD.' In: von Falkenhausen, Lothar, (ed.), Klangvorrat für die Nachwelt: neun chinesische Bronzeglocken der Sammlung Peter und Irene Ludwig: Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst Köln. Heidelberg: Kehrer Verlag.

Nickel, Lukas (1998) 'Das steinerne Grab des Herrschers von Nan Yue.' In: Prüch, Margarete, (ed.), Schätze für König Zhao Mo: das Grab von Nan Yue: Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, 5. Dezember 1998-22. Januar 1999. Heidelberg: Braus, pp. 54-69.

Nickel, Lukas (1994) 'Grabarchitektur der Han-Zeit.' In: Eggebrecht, Arne, (ed.), China, eine Wiege der Weltkultur: 5000 Jahre Erfindungen und Entdeckungen. Mainz: P. von Zabern, pp. 80-84.

Nickel, Lukas 'Brick-Built Heavens: Changes in Mortuary Architecture and Painting in Northern Henan at the Time of Wang Mang.' In: Wang, Tao and Whitfield, Roderick, (eds.), Art and religion in pre-modern China. London: Saffron Art Publishing, pp. 115-123. (In Press)

Journal Articles

Nickel, Lukas (2015) 'Bricks in Ancient China and the question of early cross-Asian interaction.' Arts Asiatiques, 70. pp. 49-62.

Nickel, Lukas and Li, Zhenguang (2014) '山东临朐白龙寺遗址佛教造像神探析.' 文物, 2014 (1). pp. 82-87.

Nickel, Lukas and Li, Zhenguang (2014) 'Analysis of the Buddhist Statues from the Site of Bailong Temple in Linqu County, Shandong Province.' Chinese Cultural Relics (2-4). pp. 375-384.

Li, Zhenguang and Nickel, Lukas and Tong, Peihua and Wu, Shuangsheng and Gong, Dejie (2014) '山东临朐白龙寺遗址发掘简报 [Brief Report on the Excavation of the White Dragon Temple Site in Linqu, Shandong].' 文物 Wenwu (1). pp. 69-81.

Nickel, Lukas (2013) 'The First Emperor and sculpture in China.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 76. pp. 413-447.

Nickel, Lukas (2012) 'The Nanyue Silver Box.' Arts of Asia, 42 (3). pp. 98-107.

Nickel, Lukas (2010) 'Buddhist bronzes excavated in Boxing, Shandong province, and the emergence of popular devotion in Northern China.' Proceedings of the Conference "Interchanges and Influences in Chinese Buddhist Sculpture". (Forthcoming)

Nickel, Lukas (2009) 'Faith and Beauty – Chinese Buddhist Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum.' Orientations, 40 (4). pp. 50-57.

Nickel, Lukas (2007) 'In Memoriam Dietrich Seckel (1910–2007) – Erinnerungen eines ehemaligen Studenten.' Ostasiatische Zeitschrift. Neue Serie (14). pp. 51-53.

Nickel, Lukas (2007) 'Dietrick Seckels wichtigste Veröffentlichungen zur ostasiatischen Kunst.' Ostasiatische Zeitschrift. Neue Serie (14). pp. 54-55.

Nickel, Lukas (2006) 'Imperfect Symmetry: Re-Thinking Bronze Casting Technology in Ancient China.' Artibus Asiae, 66 (1). pp. 5-39.

Nickel, Lukas and Brinker, Helmut and Britschgi, Jorrit and Muntwyler, Christian (2005) 'Auf der Suche nach dem «Tempel des Weissen Drachen» – die zweite Saison: Ein Grabungsprojekt der Abteilung für Kunstgeschichte Ostasiens, Universität Zürich, und des Archäologischen Instituts der Provinz Shandong, Jinan.' Jahresbericht. pp. 45-56.

Nickel, Lukas (2005) 'Locating Luoyi. Textual and Archaeological Evidence of the Western Zhou Royal Residence.' The Visual World of China: Proceedings of the International Symposium. pp. 85-102.

Nickel, Lukas and Brinker, Helmut and Britschgi, Jorrit (2004) 'Auf der Suche nach dem «Tempel des Weissen Drachen»: Ein SLSA-Grabungsprojekt in der VR China.' Jahresbericht. pp. 157-170.

Nickel, Lukas (2004) '大英博物馆收藏的一组汉代壁画, transl. by He Xilin.' Kaogu yu Wenwu, 5. pp. 74-80.

Nickel, Lukas (2002) 'Ein Fund erregt Aufsehen. Die Skulpturen aus Qingzhou und der urbane Buddhismus des 6. Jahrhunderts. [A Discovery Produces Excitement. The Sculptures from Qingzhou and Urban Buddhism in the 6th Century].' Ostasiatische Zeitschrift, 3. pp. 5-23.

Nickel, Lukas (2001) 'Ein chinesisches Steinrelief im Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst.' Kölner Museums-Bulletin (2). pp. 4-11.

Nickel, Lukas (2001) 'Some Han-Dynasty Paintings in the British Museum.' Artibus Asiae, 60 (1). pp. 59-78.

Nickel, Lukas (1997) '“Die Verbotene Stadt”. Die Verbotene Stadt - Aus dem Leben der letzten Kaiser von China.' Vernissage (10). pp. 7-15.

Book Reviews

Nickel, Lukas (1997) 'Review of Roger Goepper ed., "Das Alte China".' Mitteilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Ostasiatische Kunst . pp. 30-33.


Nickel, Lukas and Zillich, Wolfgang (2000) 'Neun chinesische Bronzeglocken. Interactive CD-ROM on a Zhou-period Chinese bell chime.' Köln.

This list was generated on Fri Jul 29 00:32:58 2016 BST.