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International Symposium Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Excavation of the Mawangdui Han Tombs

2014-12-11 16:00 to 2014-12-14 16:00

From December 11 to 14, 2014, Hunan Provincial Museum held the International Symposium Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui at CPC Hunan Provincial Committee Guesthouse. The symposium aimed at commemorating the 40th anniversary of the excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui and promoting academic exchanges in related fields. 

About 110 scholars from different countries and regions attended the symposium, including United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The symposium consisted of three parts: the opening ceremony, the group discussions and the academic summary (the closing ceremony). Experts delivered keynote speeches. Gao Zhixi, former director and researcher of Hunan Provincial Museum delivered the speech entitled “An Unprecedented Archaeological Excavation: the brief recollection of the excavation of Tomb No. 2 and Tomb No. 3 at Mawangdui of Western Han dynasty”. Li Ling, an expert in paleography from Peking University gave a speech entitled “The Historical Significance of the Discovering the Mawangdui Tombs of Western Han Dynasty”. Professor Donald Harper, director of the Center for East Asian Studies of the University of Chicago delivered the speech entitled “The Body Metaphor and Body Concept in the Medical Books from Mawangdui Tombs”. Yu Yanjiao, researcher of Hunan Provincial Museum gave a report entitled “The Latest Research Findings on Mawangdui Han Tombs by Hunan Provincial Museum”. Hunan Provincial Museum would establish the research data center for Mawangdui Han Tombs and comprehensively collect research documents related to Mawangdui Han Tombs in order to make them accessible to scholars. In the future, the museum will also strength the research into the untapped fields and will organize different research topics stage by stage. Multi-discipline and interdisciplinary studies will also be promoted. 

Opening ceremony of the Symposium

As for group discussions, three major topics were arranged for the symposium, including “The excavation of Mawangdui Han Tombs and research on related issues”, “Research on the silk manuscripts, paintings, drawings, bamboo slips unearthed from Mawangdui Han Tombs” and “Research on the issues of relics unearthed from Mawangdui Han Tombs”. With the arranged topics, experts conducted groups discussions regarding archaeology, silk objects and bamboo objects, and cultural relics. Some recollected their own experience of participating in the excavation of Mawangdui Han Tombs, while others shared their latest research findings. Experts explored the significance of the excavation of Mawangdui Han Tombs from their own research perspective and shared their interpretation of the discipline “Mawangdui Studies”. 

Group discussion on bamboo and silk relics at the conference hall

Group discussion on archaeology

Group discussion on cultural relics

Nie Fei, researcher of Hunan Provincial Museum presented the achievements made in the research project “The Assortment and Study of Lacquers unearthed from Mawangdui Han Tombs”, a project supported by National Social Science Foundation. The project lasted 6 years and was finally completed in October 2014. It was appraised as an excellent project. 

Group photo of the participants attending the symposium

The research findings of Mawangdui Han Tombs and The Burial Objects made in the last four decades were summarized on this symposium. In October, 2016, Yuelu Publishing House published Proceedings of the International Symposium Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui. It not only served as the academic summary of the research on Mawangdui, but also promoted further research in the future. 

Proceedings of the International Symposium Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Excavation of the Han Tombs at Mawangdui