Union Académique Internationale

China and the Mediterranean World

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China and the Mediterranean World: Archaeological Sources and Written Documents, from the earliest times until the end of the fourteenth century CE.


In the world today, characterized by globalization in which China is becoming an increasingly important role-player on the global scene, understanding the historical dynamics of Sino-European contacts and interaction is more significant than ever. To enhance our understanding in this regard is the fundamental purpose of the Union Académique Inernationale Project ”China and the Medi­terranean World: Archaeological Sources and Written Documents”.

Aims and sub-divisions of the project:

  1. Collecting and publishing objects originating from one cultural sphere found in the other cultural areas through archaeology, especially of Roman artifacts found in China and vice versa. 

This sub-project was envisaged to be the primary task of the Chinese participants, especially members of the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

  2. Collecting and translating texts on East-West contact and on mutual awareness:

    • European texts on China. Some of this work has already been done by previous scholars especially by the French scholar George Coedès in his work Textes d’auteurs grecs et latins relatifs a l’Extreme-Orient depuis le IV siecle av. J.-C. jusqu’au XIVe siècle (Hanoi and Paris, 1910). The very first task of the sub-project team headed by Professor Samuel Lieu of the Australian Academy was to translate this important material from Greek and Latin accurately into English and to furnish it with an up-to-date commentary.
    • Chinese texts on the Ancient Mediterranean World: The first stage, comprising translations of texts up to the end of the Tang period, has been completed by Mr. Yu Taishan of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and this is now available online: http://sino-platonic.org/complete/spp242_china_mediterranean.pdf
    • The third major sub-project is to initiate synthetic studies on the significance of the data collected within the first two sub-projects. Work on this has already begun with the collection of textual and epigraphical data. This sub-project therefore has two special goals: (i) to examine and analyse evidence for East-West contacts made in the pre-Islamic period, especially through the works of PhD candidates attached to the project (ii) to conduct comparative studies involving scholars from different parts of the world. This is specially intended to strengthen scholarly cooperation between China and Europe

Since the inauguration of the project in 2008, five monograph volumes have been published by Brepols in Studia Antiqua Australiensia in Silk Road Studies, two of the volumes are based on PhD work done by students involved in the project.

List of Committees

Scientific Committee
LIEU Samuel N. C.Co-DirectorAustralian Academy of the Humanities
LODÉN TorbjörnCo-DirectorThe Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities - Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities

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