cover of book

Written on Bamboo and Silk: The Beginnings of Chinese Books and Inscriptions, Second Edition
by Tsuen-Hsuin Tsien
afterword by Edward L. Shaughnessy
University of Chicago Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-226-81416-2 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81418-6
Library of Congress Classification Z45.T85 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 002.0931

Paleography, which often overlaps with archaeology, deciphers ancient inscriptions and modes of writing to reveal the knowledge and workings of earlier societies. In this now-classic paleographic study of China, Tsuen-Hsuin Tsien traces the development of Chinese writing from the earliest inscriptions to the advent of printing, with specific attention to the tools and media used. This edition includes material that treats the many major documents and ancient Chinese artifacts uncovered over the forty years since the book’s first publication, as well as an afterword by Edward L. Shaughnessy.

Written on Bamboo and Silk has long been considered a landmark in its field. Critical in this regard is the excavation of numerous sites throughout China, where hundreds of thousands of documents written on bamboo and silk—as well as other media—were found, including some of the earliest copies of historical, medical, astronomical, military, and religious texts that are now essential to the study of early Chinese literature, history, and philosophy. Discoveries such as these have made the amount of material evidence on the origins and evolution of communication throughout Chinese history exceedingly broad and rich, and yet Tsien succeeds in tackling it all and building on the earlier classic work that changed

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