Accepted paper:

Reaching 'the edge of the Southern Wilderness': the road network of the Lingnan-Bac Bo region during the Qin and Han Dynasties


Michele Demandt (Sun Yat-sen University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will address the southern road construction projects of the Qin and Han Dynasties as described in the Chinese historical chronicles, and how these correlate with archaeological finds of trade goods, cemeteries, urban sites and workshops in the Lingnan region in southern China and North Vietnam.

Paper long abstract:

Starting from 500 BC and continuing during the Qin and Han dynasties more intense contacts between North Vietnam and Central China can be observed through an increase of Central Plains' bronzes and ceramics, as well as the adoption of Chinese cultural and technological ideas. These interactions were facilitated by the construction of new road networks running through the Lingnan region, comprising of Guangxi and Guangdong Province in Southern China, into Bac Bo or North Vietnam. Despite the critical role of "the Lingnan - Bac Bo region" in early interregional contacts between China and Southeast Asia, it has been greatly neglected in archaeological research. This paper attempts to fill some of these blanks by discussing the extensive road networks, and especially the "New Lingnan Roads", which were initiated by Qin Shi Huang, and further developed by the rulers of the Han dynasty. In addition it will consider how these road networks correlate with the archaeological reality of trade goods, cemeteries, workshops and urban sites found in the Lingnan - Bac Bo region. Through the combined study of historical and archaeological materials the trade and communication channels between China and Southeast Asia can be recreated, and light can be thrown on how transported goods and ideas were affected and "filtered" by regional processes as well as the sinicization policies of the Qin and Han Dynasties.

panel P32
The archaeology of contact between China and Southeast Asia between the mid-1st millennium BC and the mid-1st millennium AD