The Age of Empires: Comparisons & Interactions between East & West in Antiquity

By Maggie Pavao

The symposium is organized by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the NYU Center for Ancient Studies. Specialists in Greco-Roman and Asian studies will explore the significance of recent archaeological finds from China’s First Emperor’s mausoleum—the 7,000 strong terracotta warriors and a group of intriguing acrobat figurines—from a global perspective. Established and emerging young scholars will discuss the expansion and outreach of the Han Empire reflected in art and material culture, investigating the royal tombs in China’s heartland, nomadic burials in the steppes of northern Asia, and Han lacquerware found in the Crimean Peninsula.

April 6, 7, 9, 2017
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue, New York
Free with Museum admission.
Advance registration required. Registration available after March 1. Check



Thursday, April 6, 2017
6:00-8:00 pm
Keynote Session

Welcoming Remarks
Thomas P. Campbell (Director and CEO, The Met)
Matthew Santirocco (Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, NYU) 

Keynote Introductions
Jason Sun (Brooke Russell Astor Curator of Chinese Art, Department of Asian Art, The Met)
Lillian Tseng (Associate Professor of East Asian Art and Archaeology, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU) 

Keynote Presentations
“Iran, Eurasia, and the Achievements of the First Emperor”
Dame Jessica Rawson (Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford)

 “Situating an Emperor: Tombs and Authority in Ancient China and Rome”
Matthew McCarty (Assistant Professor of Roman Archaeology, Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies, The University of British Columbia)

Kim Benzel (Associate Curator in Charge, Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Met)
Seán Hemingway (Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Met)
Carlos Picón (Curator in Charge, Department of Greek and Roman Art, The Met)
Michael Seymour (Assistant Curator, Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Met) 


Friday, April 7, 2017
China’s First Emperor and the Wider World:  Asia and the Greco-Roman World

Morning Session 10:30 am–1 pm

Opening Remarks
Christopher Lightfoot (Curator, Greek and Roman Art, The Met)

Chair:  Paul Zanker (Professor, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa) ● 

“Gods | Emperors | Hierarchies: Ritual Practice under the Qin First Emperor and Augustus”
Carlos Noreña (Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley)

“Rethinking the 'Portrait': Identity and Likeness in Ancient Images”
Hallie Franks (Associate Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study, NYU) 

“Visualizing Battlefields: The Qin Terracotta Army Reconsidered”
Lillian Tseng (Associate Professor, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU) 

Afternoon Session 2:30–4:30 pm                                   

Chair: Kim Benzel (Associate Curator in Charge, Ancient Near Eastern Art, The Met) 

“Exchange before the 'Silk Road': Evidence for Early Chinese-Central Asian-Mediterranean Connections”
Fiona Kidd (Assistant Professor, NYU Abu Dhabi)

“Some Thoughts on Evidence for Monumental Sculpture in Eastern Iran and Central Asia under the Seleucids, the Early Greco-Bactrians, and the Early Arsacids”
Sören Stark (Associate Professor, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU)

“Eternal Entertainment: Revisiting the First Emperor’s Acrobat Figurines Yielded by Pit K9901”
Armin Selbitschka (Assistant Professor, NYU Shanghai) 


Sunday, April 9, 2017
Art, Archaeology & the Han Empire 

Morning Session 10:30 am–1 pm

Opening Remarks & Chair
Mike Hearn (Douglas Dillon Chairman, Asian Art, The Met)

 “‘Journey to the West’ – The Story behind the Chinese Lacquered Boxes on the Crimean Peninsula”
Margarete Prüch (Research Associate, Heidelberg University)

“New Horizons in Chinese Gold in the Han Dynasty”
Sarah Laursen (Assistant Professor & Curator, Middlebury College)

“Revisiting the ‘Old Jade Sire’ at Mancheng Tomb 1 in Western Han China”
Jie Shi (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Chicago)

Afternoon Session 2:30–4:30 pm 

Chair: Wu Hung (Professor, University of Chicago)

“Emperor Jing’s Yangling: A New Model for the Han Imperium”
Allison Miller (Assistant Professor, Southwestern University) 

“The Moveable Feast: Food and Eating on Han Empire’s Frontier”
Alice Yao (Associate Professor, University of Chicago)

“Han Objects in the Xiongnu Domain – A Steppe Perspective“
Ursula Brosseder (Researcher, University of Bonn)


This symposium is made possible by the Joseph Hotung Fund at The Met with additional support from the Rose-Marie Lewent Conference Fund at NYU, the NYU Global Institute for Advanced Studies, the NYU Center for the Humanities, and NYU Shanghai. 

This program is offered in association with the exhibition, Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C.–A.D. 220), at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.