Jessica Rawson

Prof. Dame Jessica Rawson

Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology

Institute of Archaeology
36 Beaumont St, Oxford, OX1 2PG

phone: 01865 278137

fax: 01865 278254


Research Interests

The archaeology of China and Inner Asia, particularly the relationship between ancient China and its mobile and semi-sedentary neighbours in the mountain, steppe and semi-desert landscapes which surround the Central Plain; cultural ecology and the construction of difference in China and Western Asia; early Chinese material culture as evidence for religious concepts and beliefs; and the development and function of ornament across Eurasia.

The work will continue over the next few years in conjunction with the Flame project in the Research Laboratory for Art History and Archaeology, University of Oxford, investigating the circulation of bronze across Eastern Siberia and China. Applicants considering admission in 2017, 2018 for DPhil work in this and other related areas, including the Silk Road, and early China,  should get in touch with Professor Rawson,

Current Activities

Research into the impact of warfare, concepts of beauty and changing beliefs in Chinese society from 1500 BC to AD 1000 (as 2014 Slade Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cambridge); the impact of interactions between central China, Western Asia, and the pastoralist communities of the Steppe during the Zhou (c. 1045- 221 BC), Qin (221-210 BC), and Han (206 BC-AD 220) periods; on the structure and contents of Chinese tombs; and on exoticism in the Han to Tang periods (200 BC-AD 900).

China and Inner Asia Project Website

Recent Publications

Rawson, J. 2013. “Ordering the exotic: ritual practices in the Late Western and Early Eastern Zhou”, Artibus Asiae73, 5-76.
Rawson, J. 2012. “Miniature Bronzes from Western Zhou tombs at Baoji in Shaanxi Province”, Radiance between Bronzes and Jades—Archaeology, Art and Culture of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, Taipei: Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, 2013, pp. 23-66.
Rawson, J. 2012.“The Han Empire and its Northern Neighbours: the Fascination of the Exotic”, in James Lin (ed.), The Search for Immortality, Tomb Treasures of Han China, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2012, pp. 23-36. Translated in Studies of Ancient Tomb Art, vol. 2, Hunan meishu chubanshe, 2013, 55-71.
Rawson, J. 2012.“Inside out: Creating the exotic within early Tang dynasty China in the seventh and eighth centuries”, World Art, vol. 2, no. 1, March 2012, pp. 25-45.

Selected Publications, Books and catalogues

Treasures of Ancient China, Bronzes and Jades from Shanghai, London, 2009
With Evelyn Rawski (eds), China: The Three Emperors, 1662-1795, London Royal Academy Publications, 2005
Chinese Jade, from the Neolithic to the Qing
, British Museum Press, London 1995.
Chinese Ornament, the Lotus and the Dragon
. London: British Museum Publications, 1984.

Some recent articles

“Carnelian Beads, Animal Figures and Exotic Vessels: Traces of Contact between the Chinese States and Inner Asia, c. 1000-650BC.” Archäologie in China, vol. 1, Bridging Eurasia, 2010, pp. 1-42.
“Reviving Ancient Ornament and the presence of the Past: Examples from Shang and Zhou Bronze Vessels” in Wu Hung (ed.), Reinventing the Past: Archaism and Antiquarianism in Chinese Art and Visual Culture, Chicago: 2010 pp. 47-76.
“The Chinese Hill Censer, boshanlu: a note on Origins, Influences and Meanings”.  Ars Asiatiques, Volume en homage á Madame Michéle Pirazzoli t’Serstevens, Vol. 61 2006, pp. 75-86.
“Novelties in Antiquarian Revivals: The Case of the Chinese Ritual Bronzes”, National Palace Museum Research Quarterly vol.22, no.1, Autumn, 2004, pp. 1-34 


Published Books

Rawson, J. , (2010), Hung, W. (ed.), Reinventing the Past: Archaism and Antiquarianism in Chinese Art and Visual Culture, Chicago, The Centre for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago, Art Meia, Resources
RAwson, J., & Gorransson, K. (eds.), (2010), China’s Terracotta Army, Stockholm, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities
Rawson, J., (2009), Treasures from Shanghai: ancient Chinese bronzes and jades, British Museum Press

Contributions to Edited Books

Rawson, J., (2010), Carnelian beads, animal figures and exotic vessels: traces of contact between the Chinese states and Inner Asia, c. 1000–650BC. : in “Archaeologie in China, Vol. 1, Bridging Eurasia .”, pp 1–42, Beijing branch of the German Institute of Archaeology, Berlin.