Ying Yang (UCL) - 2021-22 Students

Wood Use in the Terracotta Army Pits and Mausoleum of China’s First Emperor

As a renowned World Heritage Site, the First Qin Emperor’s mausoleum complex holds an enormous amount of relics for academic study, including a considerable number of wood remains. These remains can be the key for us to understand the wood use in this unique site and even the anthropogenic impact on natural vegetation and the human-nature interaction during this early imperial period due to the immense size of the site and the importance of the period to which it belongs. However, these remains attracted far less attention than well-known pottery statues and have never been systematically studied. Many of these remains, including beams, pillars, and wooden floors, have been preserved in the form of charcoal because they were burned shortly after the construction; therefore, it allows us to explore the wood taxa, selection patterns, processing standards, geographic origins and many other questions. The proposed research seeks to examine the abovementioned issues and investigate the spatial distribution to understand the building practice and labour organisation better. Literature review, wood charcoal taxonomic identification, stable isotope, and tree-ring analysis will be used to conduct this research, combined with insight from spatial and statistical analysis. This research can help us know better about the wood resource extraction in the Qin empire and provide a unique viewpoint to consider the Early Anthropocene Hypothesis.

Primary supervisor: Dr Andrew Bevan, UCL
Secondary supervisor: Prof. Dorian Fuller, UCL
Third supervisor: Xiuzhen Li, UCL

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