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Challenges of Administering the Qin Empire

Evidence from Excavated and Newly Recovered Text

Prof. Robin D.S. Yates, McGill University, History and Classical Studies

Within no more than two decades, the state of Qin conquered all the territories of its rivals and established an imperial system in 221 BCE that lasted for centuries, even though the Qin dynasty itself collapsed in a civil war shortly after the First Emperor died in 210 BCE. Exactly how the Qin coped with the challenges it faced and how it assimilated and governed its newly acquired territory have been questions that were unclear for more than two millennia. With the recent discovery and partial publication of documents held by a local Qin county administration that were abandoned and thrown down a well in modern Liye, Hunan Province, the answers are beginning to become clearer. This paper will discuss some of the issues involved, presenting evidence from these newly discovered documents and other excavated and recently retrieved manuscripts.


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