Workshop on Zhangjiashan tomb 247 – Nov 2015

Organised jointly by the ERC project SAW (Research Group SPHERE) and the Centre de recherche sur les civilisations de l’Asie orientale (CRCAO), in the context of the seminar History of Science, History of Text

Daniel Morgan (ERC project SAW and SPHERE), Karine Chemla (ERC project SAW and SPHERE), Alain Thote (EPHE-CRCAO), Olivier Venture (EPHE-CRCAO)

Venue: Université Paris Diderot, Condorcet Building, room 646 A
4 rue Elsa Morante 75013 Paris or 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet 75013 Paris  –  map

November 25th, 2015  –  9:30 am to 6:30 pm


From an observer’s viewpoint, the contents of a tomb like Zhangjiashan M247 can be disorientingly eclectic. And albeit arranged as a coherent whole by early Chinese actors, we historians tend to divvy such contents amongst us: the casket and pottery to the archaeologists, and the manuscripts to paleographers; regulations and ordinances to legal scholars, and recipe slips to historians of medicine. The aim of this workshop is to run counter to this practice and to explore what might be gained from approaching the tomb in its ensemble.
We already rely on one another’s puzzle pieces to situate our own, though we may not always understand the picture emerging in the other’s corner. We date the tomb to 186 BCE because of the “calendar,” but what do we really know about tomb and non-tomb calendrical tables? We identify the disintegrated occupant as a literate low-level administrator, but how expert are we in the funerary items and administrative texts upon which this assumption lies? One of the goals of this workshop is to debrief one another on the status of our own puzzle piece as it constitutes an element of context common to all (both within the tomb and the broader society and intellectual culture of the period). Equally valuable is sharing what our approaches to disparate tomb objects have taught each of us about their biography. We all want to know about how and why the manuscripts were produced, about the identity of the tomb occupant, and about what we can do with the archeological cross section of the manuscript horde (the last page of the Zhangjiashan M247 report), but the archaeologist is not always up to speed about the historian of mathematics’ analysis of scribal hands, nor the historian of mathematics about the legal historian’s work on physical and textual order, etc. The second goal of this workshop is therefore to debrief one another on how our materials may speak to common interests in manuscript studies.
To understand a single facet of a given tomb, we must strive to understand all of them, which is why we have decided to gather experts on fields as diverse as the contents of M247 itself to discuss the tomb, its manuscript corpus, and points of common interest concerning the production and transmission of text in early China. Papers will of course be focused on, rather than limited to, the M247, as the tomb and its contents are themselves pieces in a larger puzzle. We have chosen Zhangjiashan M247 because it provides an ideal point of convergence between our respective specialties, and because our experience with the tomb’s archaeological context and scribal hands has convinced us as organizers of the potential richness of focused exchange thereupon.

Programme   pdf version

Alain Thote (EPHE, CNRS-CRCAO, France)
Les manuscrits de la région de Jingzhou au IIe s. avant notre ère : contexte archéologique
Abstract: La tombe 247 de Zhangjiashan n’ayant pas été bien publiée à ce jour, il est impossible d’en étudier la forme et le contenu avec toute la précision requise. On s’emploiera plutôt à mettre en perspective cette découverte en faisant une synthèse des découvertes de la région qui en sont contemporaines, et en explorant les différents problèmes soulevés par la présence de manuscrits dans un petit nombre de tombes, parmi des milliers. La question des inventaires funéraires qianci   遣冊 sera aussi évoquée.

Enno Giele (Universität Heidelberg, Germany)
Tombs and Money
Abstract: Ancient coins play a crucial role in archaeology. The presence or absence of datable denominations is often the basis for finding date ranges for ancient tombs as well. Tomb no. 247 at Zhangjiashan, however, thanks to its abundant legal manuscripts that contain different kinds of statutes and reports on money and other economic matters, allows us to consider the uses of ancient money outside tombs as well. The present paper will attempt to investigate the roles that money and texts on money may play in our interpretations of the Zhangjiashan and comparable tombs.

Daniel P. Morgan (Sphère, CNRS & University Paris Diderot, SAW Project)
What can you do with a Calendar? Extracting Facts, Stories, and Information otherwise pertinent to your own Field from a Table of Dates
Abstract: The ‘calendar’ is one of the most common genres of manuscript extant from the Qin-Han era, and it is also one of the least studied. This is for good reason: even in the rare cases where they provide support for noting matters of public/private business and taboos, calendars barely have any story to tell except indirectly, in aggregate, via mathematical analysis. Rather than delve ourselves into questions as foreboding as the nature and workings of time, most of us rely upon the analyses of others to make use of these documents, particularly as relates to dating the excavated corpora to which they belong. In this talk, I shall provide a layman’s summary of what has been done with such sources to date and what use I think that any scholar of early China might derive from them. To begin, I will provide a typology of ‘calendars’ recovered from this period and discuss where the untitled lunation table from Zhangjiashan tomb 247 fits into the broader scheme of civil timekeeping. From there, we will narrow our focus to Zhangjiashan and examine how this specific ‘calendar’ relates to the rest of the tomb contents in terms of textual production, date, and function. Importantly, we will ask, for example, how the date of excavated ‘calendars’ are determined and what relation-ship we should expect them to bear with adjacent materials; we will also ask what handwriting analysis might reveal about the copying of the more evidently ‘personal’ texts in a given tomb. Above all, the question will be ‘How do I, as a scholar of administrative, medical, philosophical, or literary text, make simple use of calendars, and what rules of thumb should I bear in mind when assessing.

Ulrich Lau (University of Hamburg, Germany)
The legal manuscripts from Zhangjiashan tomb 247 revisited
Abstract: Distinctive peculiarities of the legal manuscripts from Zhangjiashan tomb 247 become apparent by comparing them with recently discovered legal manuscripts from Qin which have been purchased in 2007 on the antique market in Hongkong by the Yuelu Academy Changsha. They both contain a collection of exemplary criminal cases and a compilation of statutes and ordinances. Comparative study of these manuscripts promise to provide new evidence relating to the formation of Chinese legal terminology, of the system and hierarchy of punishments and of principles for determining punishment. Different stages and many details of criminal procedure can be analysed on the basis of exemplary criminal cases. The paper will show that there were different reasons for why a particular case had exemplary character and was suited for being included into the collection. The reasons varied depending on the category to which a case belongs. It is therefore necessary to classify the cases according to inherent formal and content-related criteria. The paper will mainly focus on those categories which were new in the manuscripts from Zhangjiashan. The investigation of both collections of legislative texts has indicated differences in the number of statutes, in the wording of statutory provisions and in the subsumption of individual provisions under statutes. Some reasons for the selection of statutes and ordinances will be explored. In a further step, the paper will deal with the legal manuscripts in relation to the tomb occupant. This raises the question of whether hints on his background, social status and profession can be found in the legal and other manuscripts. Finally, the legal manuscripts will be considered in the context of other tomb texts from Zhangjiashan, in order to determine whether and how law and other important fields of early Chinese knowledge were interrelated.

Thies Staack (CSMC, University of Hamburg, Germany)
Legal Manuscripts from Tombs: Some Reflections on their Possible Compilation, Use and Function
Abstract: During the last forty years students of early Chinese law have – like all scholars in the field of early Chinese history more generally – witnessed a rapid increase of their sources. Manuscripts that were excavated from different sites such as tombs or ancient wells have highly enriched the picture we have of pre-imperial and early imperial law. While most research in this area was and still is done by historians of law who are mainly interested in texts and their content, comparatively few researchers have focused on the materiality and the context of the manuscripts which contain these texts, be they collections of statutes or ordinances, criminal case records, or others.
This paper will investigate legal manuscripts from two different collections that were (certainly or at least very likely) excavated from early imperial tombs: The manuscripts from Zhangjiashan tomb no. 247 and those in the Yuelu Academy collection. How were the legal manuscripts in these collections compiled and what might have been the motives behind this? Were the manuscripts made especially for burial or had they originally been used by a legal official during his work or as teaching material? Do we find traces of use and/or editorial work (corrections, collation marks, etc.)? A codicological and palaeographical analysis could shed some light on these and related questions. And although the old question why (legal) manuscripts were put into tombs might not be solvable, it might prove useful to know whether the manuscripts from the two mentioned collections had a “life” before they became burial objects, and if so, what that life was probably like.