Education About Asia: Online Archives

Early Asian History

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Given the publication this week of our “Teaching Asia in Middle Schools” issue, this month’s Digest Exclusive theme is Early Asian History. Each selection contains interesting “stories” for middle school teachers or non-specialists at any level who teach about early Asia in survey courses.

Charles Holcombe’s “Rethinking Early East Asian History” (Vol. 11, No. 2, Fall 2006) is a “big picture” lucid account of the origins of the region.

Although specifically developed by Jeffrey Richey for his Berea College students several years ago, teachers and/or students everywhere who are interested in comparative world history are assured of finding several topics Richey addresses interesting and useful! “Teaching Early China and Ancient Rome Comparatively” (Vol. 13, No. 2, Fall 2008)

Richard Davis was an inspiration for the column “Facts About Asia: Rome and the Indian Subcontinent: A Forgotten Story of Impactful Economic Interactions?” (Vol. 26, No. 3, Winter 2021) that features Pliny the Elder complaining about trade deficits with Indian subcontinent principalities, while Romans of all classes craved pepper and rich Romans flaunted cotton togas.

Todd Munson’s “Beyond the Sinosphere in Early Japan: Nara and the Silk Roads” (Vol. 26, No. 3, Winter 2021) shows how Nara-era Japan did not depend upon China alone for international connections.

Mark Gilbert in “Admiral Yi Sun–Shin, the Turtle Ships, and Modern Asian History” (Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 2007) provides a rich account of the life and times of one of Korea’s most revered heroes.


Additional Teaching Resource: A Time Capsule of Ancient China: Lady Dai and the Tombs of Mawangdui

This 34-minute webinar from the Five College Center for East Asian Studies by Christine Liu-Perkins, author of At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui, is on the tombs of “Lady Dai,” the name by which she is now commonly known, the widow of the Marquis of Dai, a high official during the Han Dynasty. The tombs of Lady Dai and her husband and son, with all the treasures buried within, provide many illuminating discoveries about the world of ancient China in vivid detail.

Western Han painted silk found draped over the coffin of Lady Dai, it depicts the heaven (upper part), the human realm (middle part), and the netherworld (bottom part). The goddesses Nuwa and Chang’e are depicted in heaven. Source: Wikimedia Commons at

This article was published as part of the October 2022 EAA Digest.