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The Glories of the Han Dynasty

September 27 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Wednesdays, September 27; October 4, 11, 18, 6:30–8:00PM
Speaker’s Name: 1) Yu Renqiu 2) Michael Nylan 3)Susan Beningson 4) Lillian Tseng 5) Valerie Hansen
Event Fee: Individual Tickets: $10 Members/$15 Non-Members; Full Series:$40 Members/$60 Non-Members
Location: 40 Rector Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10006

Just fifteen years after Qin Shi Huang united seven warring states to establish China’s first imperial dynasty, instability following the emperor’s death led to the founding of a new dynasty known as the Han (206 BCE – 220 CE). For most of the next four hundred years, the Han Dynasty presided over a golden age of economic prosperity where the empire expanded, trade flourished, and culture thrived. These formational years, played an important role in the development of China’s imperial bureaucracy and the growth of Confucianism which have had a lasting impact on all of the dynasties that followed.

“The Glories of the Han Dynasty” is a 5-week lecture series exploring the culture of the Han Dynasty through its history, literature, economy, politics, scholarship, and visual arts. Each lecture will be delivered by a prominent scholar covering a crucial aspect of Han Dynasty civilization, including the growth of the Silk Road, the role of Confucianism, and the writing of Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian. The topics will elaborate and expand upon many of the themes touched upon by China Institute’s exhibition Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou.

The lecture series schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, September 27, 6:30–8:00PM
Michael Nylan, Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley
– The Roman and Han Empires

Recent exhibitions devoted to China’s early empires provides an excellent opportunity to explore the early empires in Han (and Rome) from the perspective of comparative archaeology. This lecture will focus on several new finds (including the tomb of Haihun hou), with spectacular implications for our picture of the distant past.

Wednesday, October 4, 6:30–8:00PM
Susan Beningson, Assistant Curator of Asian Art, Brooklyn Museum
– Imagining the Afterlife Through Han Dynasty Art
Dr. Beningson will examine Han Dynasty artworks and what they reveal about the era’s thought and belief systems, as reflected in Dreams of the Kings.

Wednesday, October 11, 6:30–8:00PM
Lillian Tseng, Associate Professor of East Asian Art and Archaeology, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University
– Fortune-telling and Material Culture in Han China

Predicting future events were popular in ancient China, but its information was scarce in textual records. Archaeological finds in recent years yielded quite a few examples that inform us of how ancient Chinese tried to predict their future and what their concerns were. This lecture will introduce two cases in Han China. One demonstrates how astrology forecast national affairs, while the other reveals how chess-playing was used for predicting individual events.

Wednesday, October 18, 6:30–8:00PM
Valerie Hansen, Professor of History, Yale University
– The Silk Road During the Han Dynasty

Traditional Chinese historians have typically dated the earliest Chinese participation in the Silk Road trade to Zhang Qian’s trip to Central Asia in the 130s and 120s BCE. How does this claim stand up in light of archaeological evidence?

This lecture series is produced in conjunction with China Institute’s exhibition Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity, Treasures of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou.

Please Register Online. For questions email Aaron Nicholson at: [email protected] or call 212-744-8181 ext. 138 


September 27
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Downtown Office
40 Rector Street
New York, NY 10006 United States
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