Our lecture series aims to explore the common features and differences in early history-writing practices of ancient China and Mesopotamia. This event is open to everyone.
Through a study of a chapter from the Shang shu 尚书 (Venerated Scriptures) as well as two texts from the recently discovered Tsinghua manuscripts, this talks aims to highlight how history-writing served to promote the interests of different groups of ancient Chinese elites.
The Sumerian idea of History as a topic of research had unfortunately faded away from scholarly attention for several decades. This talk brings up this old question by examining the early Mesopotamian concept of time and history through a comparative lens.
Vase Inscription of Lugalzagesi from Frayne, Douglas R. 2008. Presargonic Period (2700-2350 BC). Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Early Periods 1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Laws of Hammurabi from Roth, Martha T. 1997. Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. Writings from the Ancient World 6. Atlanta: Scholars Press.
This talk focuses on the notions of historicity in ancient Chinese culture as reflected in the specific case of Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historiographer. The way it narrates the events related to Xia and Shang dynasties has been confirmed in recent archaeology, which deserves special attention from scholars.
In the first half of the first millennium BCE, various traditions converged into the writing of Babylonian national histories, produced in and outside the official palace circles. Using three historiographic texts as case studies, this paper discusses the historical context and the milieus in which they were written, as well as the main topoi, differences, and commonalities between them.
Glassner, J.-J. 2004 Mesopotamian Chronicles, Text no. 39
Glassner, J.-J. 2004 Mesopotamian Chronicles, Text no. 24
Da Riva, R. 2013 The Inscriptions of Nabopolassar, Amel-Marduk and Neriglissar, Text C32
Sima Qian, a scribe, starts the postface of his history (Shiji) with a genealogy—this talk will explore the interrelation between the scribal profession, genealogical activity, and historiography in the context of Western Han (206/201BCE–8CE). The main purpose of my talk is to understand why the Postface of Shiji opens with a genealogy of the Sima family. Hence, the Postface will be at the center of my talk, with the other documents there to support my arguments.
This paper traces the transformation of the Babylonian Managerial class, as it evolved from the 3rd millennium temple administrators to the 1st millennium royal advisors. Towards that goal a number of relevant written sources, dating mainly to the first half of the 1st millennium, will be presented and discussed in detail.
Transliteration by Piotr Stenikeller.
Egbert von Weiher, Spätbabylonische Texte aus Uruk, Teil II (Berlin: Gebr. Mann, 1983), pp. 48-55.
Alan Lenzi, “The Uruk List of Kings and Sages and Late Mesopotamian Scholarship,” JANER 8 (2008), pp. 140-143.
AW. G. Lambert, Babylonian Wisdom Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), pp. 110-115.
A. K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, Texts from Cuneiform Sources 5 (New York: J. J. Augutin, 1975), pp. 145-151.