The World's First Geneaology and Related Issues

Adam Schwartz (ISAW)
NYU Shanghai Early China Lecture Series

Inscriptions produced on behalf of people outside of the royal family, but with them in mind, present novel perspectives on action and knowledge in Early China. The lecture will introduce recently discovered archaeological evidence pertaining to the interpretation of the Ni family genealogy (倪氏家譜), a unique Shang period (ca. 1200 BCE) bone document whose impact on China’s cultural and literary history has been hindered for more than a century by its puzzling content. I shall also address the function of this nonroyal genealogy, the motivation behind its creation, and the growth of knowledge and memory that it, and later genealogical-based texts like it, construct.