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Marking practices and the making of the Qin Terracotta Army

Li, X; Bevan, A; Martinón-Torres, M; Xia, Y; Zhao, K; (2016) Marking practices and the making of the Qin Terracotta Army. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology , 42 pp. 169-183. 10.1016/j.jaa.2016.04.002. Green open access

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Abstract

A striking feature of Qin material culture (770-210 BC) in ancient China is the frequency with which it preserves stamped, incised or painted marks with a variety of Chinese characters, numerals or symbols. In a general sense, such repeated mark-making was an administrative strategy that enabled Qin administrators to mobilise people, raw materials and finished goods in vast bulk, subject to careful quality and quantity control, and archaeologically, this strategy is nowhere more obvious than in the manufacturing feat constituted by Emperor Qin Shihuang's mausoleum and his Terracotta Army. This study considers the production marks associated with both the terracotta warriors and their accompanying bronze weapons from a new perspective. We compare and contrast the marking practices on these two very different kinds of artefacts, devoting close attention to what this implies about workshop organisation or the operational sequences behind their manufacture. We also assess the location of such signs on their parent objects as well as their wider spatial distribution across the pit as a whole, ultimately with a view to understanding craft organisation and project logistics during this crucial early phase of empire-building in China.

Type: Article
Title: Marking practices and the making of the Qin Terracotta Army
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2016.04.002
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2016.04.002
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This manuscript version is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This license allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licenses are available at http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Terracotta Army; Bronze weapons; Marks; Artisans; Spatial analysis; Craft organisation; Imperial logistics
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1504424
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