January 23rd, 2014
Episode 349 of 522 episodes
The first records of historical events in China date from the Shang dynasty of the 2nd millennium BC. The earliest surviving records were inscribed on bones or tortoise shells; in later centuries, chroniclers left detailed accounts on paper or silk. In the last 100 years, archaeologists have discovered a wealth of new materials, including a cache of previously unknown texts which were found in a cave on the edge of the Gobi Desert. Such sources are shedding new light on Chinese history, although interpreting them presents a number of challenges. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Roel Sterckx, Joseph Needham Professor of Chinese History at the University of Cambridge; Tim Barrett, Professor of East Asian History at SOAS, University of London and Hilde de Weerdt, Professor of Chinese History at Leiden University.