International Conference on China’s First Emperor
21 September 2016
Forty leading international archaeologists, conservators, historians and sinologists recently met at UCL for an invitation-only symposium on Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum in Global Perspective.
The event, jointly organised by the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum and UCL, and sponsored by the BBC and National Geographic, included presentations and extended discussion on numerous dimension of the site, famous worldwide because of the Terracotta Army and its status as a World Heritage site.
Researchers had the opportunity to exchange views on the latest discoveries in the field, results of scientific analyses, and broader interpretations of the mausoleum design from diachronic and cross-cultural perspectives. Approximately half the attendants came from China, which provided an excellent opportunity for the exchange of ideas between Eastern and Western scholars.
Some of the presenters included Ningin Hou (Director of the First Emperor’s Mausoleum Site Museum), who talked about recent archaeological discoveries, Huacheng Zhao (Peking University), who talked about funerary antecedents to the Mausoleum, and Robin Yates (McGill University), who investigated historical sources related to labour management in the Qin state and empire.
Yuri Pines (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) approached the First Emperor from a political and religious perspective, and Eugene Wang (Harvard University) discussed the function of the site from an art historical perspective.
A special session was devoted to the joint project 'Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army', including presentations by UCL’s Andrew Bevan, Xiuzhen Li, Marcos Martinón-Torres, Patrick Quinn and Thilo Rehren.
Other UCL presenters included Jeremy Tanner, who compared the monumental writing of emperors in Rome and China, and Sue Hamilton, who explored the potential of a phenomenological approach to the Terracotta Army.
In 2012, the initiative was adopted by the British Academy as an Academy Research Project in recognition of “the excellence of their scholarship, and the promise and excitement of their programmes” while the film New Secrets of the Terracotta Warriors won Best Public Presentation of Archaeology at the British Archaeological Awards 2014.