Sepcialist Lecture (1) – Mass Production and Unification: Bronzes, Turquoises, Textiles, and Measurement Systems in Ancient China
This lecture explores the relationship between mass production and unification in ancient China by using four types of evidence: bronze, turquoise, textile, and measurement system. It is a progress report of Sammy Li’s cross-disciplinary projects that integrate art history, archaeology, industrial engineering, and computer science. Li first investigates how turquoises and identical bronze animals were produced in ancient China and how mirrors and textiles were mass produced in around 300 BCE. He argues that these mass production activities laid the foundation of the production and exchange networks of a larger empire. When the Qin state attempted to conquer other states and later unified institutional structures within the empire, mass production played an important role in providing material standards in multiple new aspects of the governance of the empire. The regulation of the measurement systems in the Qin empire necessitated the proposal and maintenance of standards. Li argues that the political interference of the measurement systems was a new field in the governing structure of the Qin empire. Proposing standards in new fields, rather than proposing new standards in a particular field, as Li demonstrates, was a prominent feature of the imperial ideology of the Qin.
Dr. LI Kin Sum (Sammy)
1. Academic Background: PhD (Princeton University, 2015), MPhil (Chinese University of Hong Kong), BA (Chinese University of Hong Kong).
2. Present Position: Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist University.
3. Research Fields: history of mass production in the ancient world; study of industrial art with the assistance of science and technology.