Event Details

WHAT: RASBJ online talk by Dr. Jianjun Mei: "Emperor Qinshihuang's bronze birds: evidence of connections with distant cultures?"

WHEN: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, 7:00-8:00 PM Beijing Standard time


Some treasures found in the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor (259-210 BC) at Xi'an-- the terracotta warriors, the elaborate horse chariots -- are familiar icons by now. But not so the exquisite bronze waterbirds that also accompanied the Emperor in the afterlife, but were excavated much more recently. Some attributes of these bronze artifacts moreover seem to evoke faraway cultures -- what are the possible links?

Forty-six bronze waterbirds -- twenty ducks, twenty swans and six cranes -- were excavated from a sacrificial pit in the Emperor's mausoleum in 2001-2003. Scientific examination of these birds has revealed some intriguing technical evidence suggesting possible cultural influences from the West.

Dr Jianjun Mei will introduce these waterbirds in the context of the other items in the mausoleum, relate them to other Chinese bronzes, and explore their place in cultural connections between China and distant cultures in the West during the late first millennium BCE.

MEMBERS ONLY: This event is free and exclusively for members of RASBJ and partner RAS branches. If you know someone who wishes to join RASBJ to attend this event, please ask them to sign up at https://rasbj.org/membership/ at least 72 hours beforehand.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT: Please click "Register" or "I Will Attend" and follow the instructions. After successful registration you'll receive a confirmation email with a link to join the event. If you seem not to have received it, please check your spam folder. Members of partner RAS branches: Please register at least 72 hours in advance to allow time for membership verification. You will receive two emails from us, the first confirming receipt of your registration request and the second confirming your registration, with a link to join the event. Please check your spam folder to ensure you see all RASBJ emails.


  • Jianjun Mei (Speaker)

    Jianjun Mei


    Professor Jianjun Mei is Director of Research at the MacDonald Institute of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Director of Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, and fellow of Churchill College. He is also a visiting professor of University of Science and Technology Beijing, and corresponding fellow of the German Institute of Archaeology. His publications include Copper and Bronze Metallurgy in Late Prehistoric Xinjiang: Its Cultural Context and Relationship with Neighbouring Regions (monography), Metallurgy and Civilization: Eurasia and Beyond (edited book), and 120 articles published in both Chinese and English.

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  • Matthew Hu (Moderator)

    Matthew Hu



    Matthew Hu was born and raised in Beijing. He is the founder of The Courtyard Institute, and he has a keen interest in the history and mystery of China. Previously he worked as Managing Director of Beijing Cultural Heritage Protection Center (CHP), China Representative of The Prince’s Charities Foundation (China) and was deeply involved with the Shijia Hutong Museum in Beijing.

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