Origins of Chinese and Mesopotamian History-Writing First Round of the International Academic Online Conversation: 8:00–10:00 PM (Beijing Time) 30 Oct. 2021


The second round of the International Academic Online Conversation“Origins of Chinese and Mesopotamian History-Writing”will be held online on 23 October. The event is free and open to everyone, but registration is required. To get access to preparatory materials and the link to the VooV / Tencent Meetings event, please sign up at 

Title 1:Shiji and the Simas: genealogy, tradition, and historiography

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Speaker: Prof. Griet Vankeerberghen(McGill University )

Time:8:00–9:00 PM (Beijing Time) 30 Oct. 2021

Abstract: Sima Qian, a scribe, starts the postface of his history (Shiji) with a genealogy—this talk will explore the interrelation between the scribal profession, genealogical activity, and historiography in the context of Western Han (206/201BCE–8CE). The main purpose of my talk is to understand why the Postface of Shiji opens with a genealogy of the Sima family. Hence, the Postface will be at the center of my talk, with the other documents there to support my arguments.

Biography: Griet Vankeerberghen (Ph.D. Princeton University, 1997) is Associate Professor at the Department of History and Classical Studies of McGill University. She has published on several Western Han texts and their social, political and material contexts. She is currently engaged in a SSHRC-supported research project on Chang'an, the capital of Western Han. With Hans Beck, she is co-director of the Global Antiquities Research Network ( ). She teaches a wide variety of courses on early and medieval China, on the Chinese family, and on Confucius.

Title 2:From the administrators of temple households to the advisors of kings–the evolution of the Babylonian Managerial Class


Speaker:  Prof. Piotr Steinkeller (Harvard University)

Time:9:00–10:00 PM (Beijing Time) 30 Oct. 2021

Abstract: This paper traces the transformation of the Babylonian Managerial class, as it evolved from the 3rd millennium temple administrators to the 1st millennium royal advisors. Towards that goal a number of relevant written sources, dating mainly to the first half of the 1st millennium, will be presented and discussed in detail.

Biography: Before coming to teach at Harvard (in 1981), Professor Steinkeller pursued research at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. His scholarly work deals broadly with the history, culture, and languages of early Mesopotamia (3000-1500 BCE), its particular focus being the socioeconomic history of Babylonia during the 3rd mil. BCE and, most recently, the early history of Sumero-Akkadian religion. He is also interested in Mesopotamian archaeology. He has written or co-authored three books and over eighty articles and book reviews, including History, Texts, and Art In Early Babylonia: Three Essays. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017.

The lectures series is organized by UIC-BNU Research Centre for History and Culture, jointly with the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at the Southern University of Science and Technology and the Institute for the Global History of Civilizations at Shanghai International Studies University.