A Review of the Hot Topics in 20 Years of Collating and Researching the Documents from the Three Kingdoms State of Wu Excavated at Zoumalou


In: Bamboo and Silk
Chang Xu (徐暢) Beijing Normal University, History Department (北京師範大學歷史學院) Beijing (北京)

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In 1996, a batch of slips (jian ) and tablets (du ) from the Three Kingdoms state of Sun Wu was excavated at Zoumalou, Changsha. It is the largest batch of slips and tablets ever discovered in China. As of 2016, the cleaning, protection and study of the Zoumalou materials has been going on for 20 years. Both the publication of the materials and research on their contents have yielded fruitful results. This paper does not seek to comprehensively review all of that work, but rather intends to outline the development of the field of Wu slip studies itself, and the topics that have been hotly debated have changed over time. When the Zoumalou slips were discovered, they had been damaged and mixed up, so the ideal situation would have been to start with reconstructing the documents, and then use relatively complete historical texts to explore relevant historical issues. Due to the long publication process, scholarship first centered on reconstructing the Household Registration and Accounting Documents in the Wu slips, and then on the Wu’s administrative documents as published in the successive official volumes of the slips and boards of official documents. These included a wealth of administrative information that needed to be sorted out. One of the main directions for future research on Wu slips will be using these official documents to study the administrative document system of Sun Wu’s commanderies and counties.

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