CRCAO member - China Team

Benjamin Ringard

École Pratique des Hautes Études

Thesis : Funerary practices during Han dynasty China (202 B.C. – 220 A.D.) in the Chang’an area (Shaanxi)
Directed by Alain Thote


This dissertation centers on the evolution of Han burials. Our database, gathering the results of the last 75 years of Han funerary archaeology around Chang’an area, enables us to measure the extent of the transformations that took place in the tombs. The four centuries of the Han dynasty were the scene of a funerary « revolution » among the middle class. The use of catacomb tombs became definitively established and allowed the reopening of tombs to house the deceased couples together as early as the end of the second century BC. This funerary evolution went against previous customs that aimed to seal the tomb for eternity. The tendency continued with the construction and the adoption of real family vaults at the beginning of our era. This physical proximity between the living and the dead repeated at each reopening necessitated the creation of rites aimed at confining the burial site whenever necessary to hermetically separate the living from the dead.

Research thematics

  • Ancient China
  • Archaeology
  • Funerary practices
  • Exorcism and demonology
  • Divination