Category Archives: Excavated Texts

Allan on Confucius and Abdication at Harvard (and in NYRB)

Monday, April 11, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The Rise of Confucius and Legends of Abdication in Light of Warring States Period Bamboo Manuscripts
Speaker: Sarah Allan, Burlington Northern Foundation Professor of Asian Studies in honor of Richard M. Dressler at Dartmouth College, chair of the Society for the Study of Early China, and editor of Early China
Sponsored by the Harvard University Fairbanks Center for Chinese Studies
S250, 2nd Floor, CGIS South, 1730, Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

More information here.

Subscribers to the New York Review of Books can also read Ian Johnson’s “A Revolutionary Discovery in China” in the April 21 issue, which is a review essay based on Sarah Allan’s book Buried Ideas: Legends of Abdication and Ideal Government in Early Chinese Bamboo-Slip Manuscripts.

Shaughnessy on Excavated Texts at Wisconsin

Edward Shaughnessy (University of Chicago) who will be Halls-Bascom Visiting Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in early April 2016 will hold a Workshop on Recently Excavated Texts on 7 April 2016 from 2:30-4:30 p.m. (location on the UW Campus still to be arranged). Zhi Chen (Hong Kong Baptist University) will serve as discussant. It is hoped that scholars from other “neighboring universities” will consider joining the Workshop. Although we have no travel funds, there will be a light-dinner reception following the Workshop to allow the discussion to continue into the evening. For further information please contact Bill Nienhauser (

Manuscript and Text Workshop at Oxford

Dirk Meyer writes:

We are pleased to announce the programme for Trinity Term 2014 of the Interdisciplinary Workshop for Manuscript and Text Culture (WMTC) at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. We will discuss three papers this term.

  • Wednesday 14 May: Paola Ceccarelli (Newnham College, Cambridge): Gods Writing in Ancient Greece
  • Wednesday 4 June: Henrike Lähnemann (Newcastle University): Texts and Textiles: Manuscript Fragments in Medieval Dresses
  • Wednesday 11 June: Maria Khayutina (University of Munich): Writing Agents in Early China (ca. 11-8 cc. BCE): Secretaries and Makers of Slabs

The workshops take place at The Queen’s College University of Oxford: High Street OX1 4AW (Memorial Room). Lectures are from 6-7pm followed by a discussion. All are welcome. (For more details, see here.)

Holloway Book and Video

Ken Holloway’s new book, The Quest for Ecstatic Morality in Early China, has been published by Oxford. He writes that:

This book is an analysis of religion in the Guodian manuscript the “Xing zi mingchu” 性自命出. In the Appendix, I provide an annotated translation and Chinese edition of the text. When I was in Beijing shortly after I finished writing the manuscript, I made a short movie of an exhibit of a copy of the “Xing zi mingchu” in the Confucian Temple in Beijing.

The movie should now be available via the Oxford blog:; enjoy! And congratulations, Ken.

New Book: Cook, Bamboo Texts of Guodian

164 BambooVol1

Scott Cook’s extensive, two-volume study and complete translation of the Guodian excavated texts has been published and is available through University of Hawaii Press. For more information, check out these two sites (vol. 1; vol. 2), which are largely identical but have links for purchasing the two volumes at the bottom. Congratulations, Scott!

Here follows the blurb from the website:

The cache of bamboo texts recently unearthed (in 1993) from the village of Guodian, Hubei Province, is without doubt a rare and unique find in the history of Chinese philosophy and literature. As the only archaeologically excavated corpus of philosophical manuscripts to emerge from a Warring States–period tomb, the Guodian texts provide us with a wealth of reliable information for gaining new insights into the textual and intellectual history of pre-imperial China. In this respect, one may reasonably claim that they are the most exciting thing to happen to the study of early China since the third century ad, the last time a pre-imperial textual cache of similar import was unearthed. More than a few scholars have even gone so far as to suggest that their discovery necessitates that the entire history of early Chinese intellectual history will have to be rewritten. The importance of these texts is manifold. First, given the prominence of Confucian works in the corpus, they serve to fill out much of the intellectual historical picture for the doctrines of roughly three generations of Confucian disciples who fell between the times of Confucius 孔子 (551–479 BC) and Mencius孟子 (ca. 390–305 BC). Next, the discovery of three different texts that each parallel portions of the Daodejing 道德經 (aka. Laozi 老子), along with a possibly related cosmogonic work, the “Taiyi sheng shui”太一生水, is helping us better understand the formation and early transmission of the Laozi and the nature of its relationship to early Confucian thought and even popular beliefs. Moreover, the dating of the tomb serves to dispel serious doubts about the early temporal provenance of both the Laozi and many of the chapters from the Li ji 禮記 (Book of Ritual), as well as giving us a number of clues to help us reconstruct the history of the early Chinese canonical “classics” that are cited in some of the texts. And written as they are in the local Chu 楚 script, the manuscripts hold great significance for the study of early Chinese paleography and phonology, giving us tangible examples of “ancient script” forms hitherto seen mainly in early character dictionaries and a limited array of technical manuscripts previously excavated from the region.