Yuri Pines
Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Zhou-Qin Relations in the Light of Epigraphic Evidence
Panel: Center and Periphery in Shr Ji Historiography
AAS Convention, San Diego, 4-7 March 2004


The Shiji treats the sensitive issue of Qin relations with the Zhou royal house in a plain, straightforward manner. In its account, Qin was initially a loyal Zhou ally. After the reign of Lord Mu (659-621 BCE), Qin disappeared from Zhou history; then it resurfaced again as an ally of the Zhou during the years 375-334 BCE. Finally, it became the arch-enemy of the royal domain, annexing it in 256 BCE. This story, however, is completely at odds with the extant epigraphic evidence. Qin bronze, stone and jade inscriptions from the seventh to the third century BCE suggest a radically new view of an intimate Qin-Zhou aliance, probably even a kind of symbiosis between the two. In particular, the recently published jade tablets containing a prayer to Mt Hua bring into question the role of Qin in the elimination of the Zhou.

Why was Sima Qian not aware of this close alliance? Did he deliberately skew the picture of Qin-Zhou ties? Or was he misled by his sources, including the Qin annals, which should have served him as a main source of Qin history? Can we reinterpret the Shiji narrative in the light of the new epigraphic sources? And what can we learn of Qin and Zhou history in general from the new data? This paper proposes preliminary answers to these intriguing questions.

This panel was rejected by the AAS Program Committee, and never took place. This page is preserved as a record of work done, rather than work presented. We are grateful to our colleagues for their interest, and hope that a proper venue can eventually be found for sharing their results with the field.


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30 July 2003 / Contact The Project / Conferences Page