Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c. 400 B.C.E.–50 C.E. Erica Brindley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. 302 pp, 12 b/w illustrations, 3 maps, 3 tables, Bibliography, Index. US $103.00. ISBN 9781316355282.

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2017
Authors
Allard, Francis
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It is fair to say that substantially more has been written about China’s northern neighbors in pre- and early imperial times than about its early southern populations. This is perhaps not surprising, considering the perpetual need of Bronze Age and later dynasties to monitor, engage, and appease those powerful and mobile steppe polities that agitated at their doorstep. In contrast, not only was the south geographically distant from the dynastic centers of the Central Plains, it never emerged as a serious military threat. Textual, archaeological, and linguistic data combine to paint China’s vast southern region (from the Yangzi River to northern Vietnam) as a highly segmented ethnic landscape populated by mostly small-scale, pre-literate populations who spoke non-sinitic languages. The absence of any coordinated resistance to – or possibly even awareness of – the southern march of armies is evident from the recorded speed at which China’s early empires managed to incorporate the southern regions into their realms. Thus, by 214 B.C.E., Lingnan (consisting of present-day Guangdong and Guangxi) in southeast China had become part of the Qin empire, while troops dispatched one century later by the Han emperorWudi are said to have taken no more than 3 years to reach and conquer a vast swath of territory covering present-day Fujian (along the southeast coast), Lingnan, northern and central Vietnam, and portions of Yunnan (in southwest China), all of which were soon partitioned into commanderies and constituent counties.
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