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  • Dr Xiuzhen Li
  • Honorary Senior Research Associate
  • xiuzhen.li@ucl.ac.uk
  • UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY UK

Xiuzhen Li

Xiuzhen Li is a senior archaeologist at the Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum, China, and an Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London, UK. She graduated from Peking University with an Archaeology degree, and took a Masters in Field Archaeology and a PhD in Archaeological Science at the UCL Institute of Archaeology.

She has over 20 years experience at the site of Qin Terracotta Army, leading the excavation of the site and also being involved in many research projects carried out on the terracotta warriors and the Qin First Shihuang’s Mausoleum complex.

In 2003, when she came to the UK to study for a Masters degree, she started to develop the co-operation between the Museum in Xi’an, China and University College London.

Her PhD research, from 2007 to 2011, focused on the bronze weapons equipped for the Qin Terracotta Army. Multi-disciplinary methods were used to interpret standardisation and labour organisation of these large quantity of bronze weapons during production processes in the workshop; and the further transportation and arrangement of these weapons within the pits of the Terracotta Warriors which protect the Qin First Emperor in the after-life. She continued collaborative research on the Qin terracotta warriors, weapons and other Qin metal treasures in postdoctoral research funded by Rio Tinto. In 2012, this co-operative project was adopted by the British Academy as an “Academy Research Project”, entitled the Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army.

Research Interests

  • Chinese archaeology, early imperial China
  • Archaeology and heritage of East Asia
  • Archaeological science, material analysis
  • Metals and Metallurgy
  • Computer applications in archaeology
  • Quantitative archaeology
  • GIS spatial analysis
  • Pleographical research
  • Bronze weapons
  • Museum exhibitions

Current Research

  • Chinese archaeology, early imperial China
  • Imperial Logistics: The Making of the Terracotta Army
  • Using Scanning Electron Microscopy to study tool marks
  • Gold and silver ornaments and technological choices in pre-Silk Road China
  • Multi-disciplinary methods, statistical and spatial methods on the Qin First Emperor’s Mausoleum
  • Bronze weapons in the battle formation of the Qin Terracotta Army
  • Landscape, phenomenology and the Qin First Emperor’s tomb complex
  • Archaeology and Heritage of East Asia
  • Quinn, P., Zhang, S., Xia, Y., & Li, X. (2017). Building the Terracotta Army: Ceramic craft technology and organisation of production at Qin Shihuang's mausoleum complex. Antiquity, 91 (358), 966-979. doi:10.15184/aqy.2017.126
  • Li, X., Bevan, A., Martinón-Torres, M., Yin, X., and K. Zhao 2016. Marking practice and the making of the Qin Terracotta Army. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, vol.42, 169-183.
  • Li, X., Bevan, A., Martinón-Torres, M., Rehren, T., Cao, W. Yin, X., and K. Zhao 2014. Crossbows and imperial craft organisation: the bronze triggers of China’s Terracotta Army. Antiquity, vol.88, 126-140.
  • Li, X.J. 2014. The Terracotta Warriors. In Chinese Studies in Oxford Bibliography (online publication: www.oxfordbibliographies.com). New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Xia, Y., Zhao, K., Bevan, A. H., Rehren, T. 2014. Tool marks under SEM: inscriptions, and the filing and grinding marks on the Qin bronze weapons made for the Qin Terracotta Warriors. In Cao, W. and Rehren, T. (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium on Qin Period Metallurgy and its Social and Archaeological Context. Beijing: Kexuechubanshe.
  • Bevan, A. H., Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Green, S., Xia, Y., Zhao, K., Zhao, Z., Ma, S., Wei, C., Rehren, T. 2014. Computer vision, archaeological classification and China's terracotta warriors. Journal of Archaeological Science 49, 249-254 doi:10.1016/j.jas.2014.05.014.
  • Bevan, A. H., Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Rehren, T. 2014. Some thoughts on the quantitative spatial analysis of metallurgical and other craft activities. In Cao, W. and Rehren, T. (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium on Qin Period Metallurgy and its Social and Archaeological Context. Beijing: Kexuechubanshe.
  • Martinón-Torres, M., Li, X. J., Bevan, A. H., Xia, Y., Zhao, K., Rehren, T. 2014. Making weapons for the First Emperor: archaeometallurgical analyses of bronze weapons from the Terracotta Army. In Cao, W. and Rehren, T. (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium on Qin Period Metallurgy and its Social and Archaeological Context. Beijing: Kexuechubanshe.
  • Martinón-Torres, M., Li, X., Bevan, A., Xia, Y.. Zhao, K. and Rehren T,. 2014. Forty thousand arms for a single emperor: from chemical data to the labour organization behind the bronze arrows of the Terracotta Army, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory (doi: 10.1007/s10816-012-9158-z)
  • Xia, Y., Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Rehren, T., Zhao, k., and Zhou T. 2014. An initial analysis of the arrow tangs and swords from the Qin Terracotta Army. In Cao, W. and Rehren, T. (eds.). Proceedings of International Symposium on Qin Period Metallurgy and its Social and Archaeological Context. Beijing: Kexuechubanshe.
  • Li, X. 2012. Standardisation, Labour Organisation and the Bronze Weapons of the Qin Terracotta warriors. PhD Thesis. London: University College London.
  • Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Meeks and Xia, Y. 2012. Scanning electron microscopy imaging of tool marks on Qin bronze weaopns using silicone rubber impressions, in N. Meeks, C. Cartwright, A. Meek and A. Mongiatti (eds.), Historical Technology, Materials and Conservation: SEM and Microanalysis, 62-68. London: Archetype and The British Museum.
  • Bevan, A., Crema, E., Li, X. and Palmisano, A. 2013. Intensities, interactions and uncertainties: some new approaches to archaeological distributions, in Bevan, A. and Lake, M. (eds.), Computational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press (manuscript).
  • Li, X. J., Martinón-Torres, M., Meeks, N. D., Yin, X. and Kun, Z. 2011. Inscriptions, filing, grinding and polishing marks on the bronze weapons from the Qin Terracotta Army in China. Journal of Archaeological Science 38, 492-501 [pdf]
  • Li, X., Martinón-Torres, M., Bevan, A., Rehren, Th., Xia, Y., and Zhao, K. 2011. 秦俑坑出土青铜弩机生产的标准化及劳动力组织 (Standardisation and labour organisation in the Qin bronze triggers of the Terracotta Warriors). Qin Shihuangling Bowuyuan Yuankan, Volume 1, p251-263.
  • Martinón-Torres, M. Li, X., Bevan, A., Xia, Y., Kun, Z. and T. Rehren 2011. Making weapons for the Terracotta Army. Archaeology International 13-14: 65-67 (doi: 10.5334/ai.1316).
  • Li, X. and J., Gao (2010). 从青铜弩机铭文年秦兵器生产标准化的局限性 (Standardisation and limitations in production of the Qin bronze triggers: the inscription evidence). Wenbo, volume. 2: 45-48.
  • Li, X. (2008). 加勒比海维京岛考古 (Field archaeology in the British Virgin Islands, Caribbean). Wenbo, No. 5:83-85.
  • Li, X. (2008). 秦兵马俑二号坑门道中出土的遗迹及相关信息 (The carriage tracks and other traces discovered from the ramps of Pit 2). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 15. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (2008). The promotion strategy of the First Emperor Exhibition at the British Museum. Chinese Cultural Relics Newsletter, 1st, November.
  • Li, X. (2007). 秦俑二号坑西北角出土的砖坏及相关问的探讨 (A pile of unfired bricks discovered in the north-west corner of Pit 2 and related research questions). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 14. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (2007). 从秦始皇陵区陶窑的分布看陵区陶制品的烧制 (An investigation into ceramic production for the First Emperor from the distribution of kilns in his tomb complex). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 14. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (2006). 从秦代夯土建筑看中国古代夯土技术的发展 (An investigation of the development of earthwork technologies in ancient China based on Qin rammed earth constructions). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 13. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (2001). 秦器物上的动植物纹饰研究 (Decorative patterns depicting animals and plants on Qin objects). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 9. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X., et al. (2000). 秦俑坑附近剖面全新世气候记录及春秋秦汉历史时期的气候环境 (An investigation into climate during Qin dynasty based on magnetism and molluscan records from loess deposits). Proceedings of the conference on Qin terracotta warriors. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (2000). 秦汉服饰礼仪的发展变化 (Research into the changing etiquette and social stratification in the Qin and Han dynasty from the costume styles). Proceedings of the conference on Qin Terracotta Warriors. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (1999). 秦代士兵的衣饰戎服及相关问题探讨 (Comparative research into the decorated costumes of the Qin terracotta warriors and minority dress throughout ancient central China). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 7. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (1999). 秦俑坑青灰泥成份及其来源的测试研究 (An investigation into the origin and composition of the grey soil from the pits of the Terracotta Warriors). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 7. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Guo, B. and X., Li. (1999). 从“以水银为江河”看中国古代的制汞技术 (An investigation into the technology of mercury extraction in ancient China inspired by the legend of a mercury river in the tomb of the First Emperor). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 7. Shaanxi Press, China.
  • Li, X. (1997). 秦御官俑所备玉环与古代配绶制度 (A jade pendant worn by a Qin bronze charioteer and further discussion of the jade ornaments in ancient China). Research on Qin Terracotta Warriors and Qin Culture, Volume 5. North West University Press, China.
  • Li, X. (1994). 秦俑服饰配备问题试探 (Research into the clothes supply of the Qin army from the decorated costumes of the Terracotta Warriors). Wenbo, 1994,Volume 6.

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