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Title: Steppe and local identities on the frontier of the State and Empire of Qin during the 7th to 3rd centuries BC
Author: Wong, Wai Kwan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 6780
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis studies group identities among inhabitants of the western frontiers of the State and Empire of Qin during the 7th to 3rd centuries BC. The inhabitants are known to us through the Chinese historical records and their tombs found in eastern Gansu Province and southern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China. Based on descriptions in Chinese historical records, it has generally been believed that the inhabitants were conquered and assimilated by the Zhou (1045-221 BC) and Qin (221-206 BC) Dynasties, a process represented by, for example, the wheeled vehicles and ritual vessels found in their tombs. This thesis offers a new reading of the inhabitants' identities, arguing that they retained distinctive local identity that was closely related to others expressed by people living in the Eurasian steppe, as a way to cope with the difficult geopolitical situation. Meanwhile, the inhabitants served the Qin State and Empire as mercenaries rather than subjects. This is demonstrated through analysis of the Chinese historical sources and a contextual approach to archaeological remains. The textual analysis is used to highlight the usefulness of available historical texts in understanding the period. On this basis, similarities and variations between the material remains of the inhabitants of eastern Gansu, southern Ningxia, and the steppe people are established. The analysis also contextualises Zhou and Qin type weapons and ritual vessels that have been discovered in the tombs. These artefacts reveal the role inhabitants of eastern Gansu and southern Ningxia played as Qin mercenaries. The discussion incorporates identification of steppe, Achaemenid, and Hellenistic traits in the material assemblage that are suggested to have been transmitted to Qin through this border region, showing reciprocal relationships between the two groups. In addition to presenting an alternative approach to understanding identities on the western frontier of Qin during the 7th to 3rd centuries BC, this thesis redraws the political map of the region.
Supervisor: Rawson, Jessica ; Hein, Anke Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available