How to Build Smart Society

Activity: Conference/talk/lecture/symposium/speech/workshop, etcEvent organized by HKBU


About the Lecture

In this talk, the speaker will explore a comparative analysis of official scribes in Ancient Egypt and Early China. An elaborate scribal culture was a strong parallel development between the two civilizations. These male scribes were trained to form the literate bureaucracy of the state and to carry out its principle functions of taxation, control of property and production, management of the population, and the administration of the law. They were the embodiment of “smart society” in the ancient world. The speaker will explore the writing material used by scribes in each civilization, bamboo slips and wooden boards in early China, and papyrus and stone in ancient Egypt, along with the scribal kits of hair brushes, reed pens, ink cakes, grinding stones, water pots, palettes, and scrapers used by the Egyptian and Chinese scribes. The culture of scribal training, including the education and testing of scribes and the curriculum of study will also be examined. Furthermore, the speaker will discuss the issue of scribal “class consciousness,” as this group saw itself as a privileged class in both societies. The second half of the talk will delve into the tombs of scribes in China and Egypt, to see how this scribal culture was projected into the realm of the tomb. Both the Egyptian and Chinese scribes and their descendants placed items in the tomb to mark the identity, profession and status of the scribe, which made their tombs distinct from those of other groups in society, perpetuating their self-perception of holding a special status.

Hosted by the Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of History, and Modern History Research Centre, HKBU, and sponsored by ESRI China Hong Kong.

Number of attendees (for events)

Period19 Jun 2019
Event titleHow to Build Smart Society: “Official Scribes,” Prof. Anthony Barbieri-Low
Event typeLecture