Archaeological Perspectives on the Qin Unification of China
A talk by Lothar von Falkenhausen, at the Bowers Museum
Sunday, October 12, 2008
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
2002 N. Main Street
Professor Lothar Von Falkenhausen, UCLA, introduces recent archaeological findings that have prompted a reinterpretation of the First Emperor's historical contribution. It is often claimed that when the First Emperor unified large parts of continental East Asia for the first time under a centralized bureaucratic regime, he imposed a series of comprehensive innovations, e.g., a unified script, currency, weights-and-measurements system, and legal code. Recent archaeological discoveries have show, however, that the Qin unification merely introduced to the rest of China the administrative institutions that had previously been established in the Qin kingdom, and which in turn were no more than a variation of the institutions that existed simultaneously in neighboring states. The First Emperor's mausoleum with its famous terra cotta figures should likewise be seen as a gigantically magnified manifestation of a tomb type that had been evolving since the middle of the first millennium BC. It is now obvious that the unification of China was not achieved during a single emperor's reign, but a drawn-out process that extended over centuries.
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