A long-standing interest in material culture led me to reconstruct the material conditions associated with the massive library project initiated at the late Western court of Han Chengdi (r. 33–7 BC), for which very little material evidence now remains other than two small hills tentatively identified as the former sites of the Tianlu ge and Shiqu ge palace libraries. Research into that library project of 26–6 BC has prompted new insights into manuscript culture in early China, especially as it relates to questions of authorship and what was considered “fine writing,” shedding light on the methods and goals of the haogu 好古 (“loving antiquity”) project at Chengdi's court led by the three most impressive thinkers of the two Han dynasties. That research also suggests that many, if not most of the so-called Zhanguo texts that we know today underwent substantial changes at the hands of the activist editors at Chengdi's court.

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