The Imperial Network in Ancient China

The Foundation of Sinitic Empire in Southern East Asia
Dr. Maxim Korolkov
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Maxim Korolkov

This study examines the emergence of imperial state in East Asia during the period ca. 400 BCE – 200 CE as a network-based process. It shows how the geography of early interregional contacts south of the Yangzi River informed the directions of Sinitic state expansion after mid-first millennium BCE as well as the array of human and material resources available to the empire builders. Drawing on the transmitted textual records, archaeological evidence, and the recently excavated legal manuscripts and administrative archives, Maxim Korolkov (University of Heidelberg) explores the development of an imperial network in southern East Asia: the institutions, infrastructures, and relationships that facilitated circulation of materials, goods, people, and ideas while directing their flows toward state goals. By offering important advantages to participating individuals and communities – ranging from improvements in subsistence for commoners to more efficient instruments of wealth accumulation and power legitimization for the elites – this network was essential to the consolidation of Sinitic imperial rule in the sub-tropical zone south of the Yangzi against formidable environmental, epidemiological, and logistical odds. The book then explores how the interplay between the imperial network and the alternative frameworks of long-distance interaction shaped the political-economic trajectory of the Sinitic world and its involvement in the incipient Eurasian globalization after the demise of ancient empire.