Towards a Methodology for the Study of Paleographic Texts: A Study of the Chinese Writing System as seen in Excavated Texts of the Warring States, 481 B.C.-221 B.C.


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Grants to Individuals in East and Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History Study and Research Fellowships (East and Southeast Asia)


Chinese literature


University of Chicago


This project makes use of recently excavated manuscripts from the Warring State of Chu to analyze the Chinese writing system as witnessed during a particular time and place. Using the bamboo slips from Guodian, the Shanghai Museum, and Tsinghua University, this project provides a more solid foundation for paleographic research on excavated text, developing a theory and methodology accessible to non-specialists. First, the project clarifies the nature and characteristics of the Chinese writing system, drawing attention to the complex relation between language and writing. It then brings together the variants of a single text and considers the implications of these "groups" for reading habits, the phonological system, and other characteristics particular to the Chu region of the Warring States.