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* Philology Department

Acting Chairperson: Jeng-guo Chen

When the Institute of History and Philology was first created, eight sections were established, including a Chinese characters section.  After a reorganization in the following year, the Chinese characters section and the Mandarin Chinese language section were combined to form the second of four IHP departments.  This second department, however, was long more focused on linguistics than philology.  The famous oracle bone scholar, Tung Tso-pin, was a member of the Archaeology Department, and the IHP did not have a division devoted to philology.  In 1958, the Oracle Bone Research Program was established.  This was renamed the Philology Department in 1990, as its research included studies of Zhou bronze inscriptions and writings in the Qin and Han Dynasties, in addition to oracle bones.

Early on, the work of the Philology Department was primarily focused on oracle bones, and it came to be the leader in the field.  In fact, the Department’s edge in the study of oracle bones became one of the IHP’s most noted areas of accomplishment.  Significant publications of the department include: Part I, Inscriptions [on Oracle Bones from] Hsiao-t’un) 殷虛文字甲編 and its sequels, 殷虛文字乙編 and 殷虛文字乙編補遺; of three volumes of restoration works (rejoining of broken and scattered oracle bone fragments) under the title 殷虛文字丙編; and of the annotation of these works, the殷虛文字甲編考釋 and甲骨文字集釋.  Additionally, although Chou Fa-kao, the head of the project that produced金文詁林補 (a supplement to the annotations of bronze inscriptions), was not a member of the Philology Department, this scholarly achievement may still be claimed for the field of philology.  Recent years have seen the publication of Rejoined Oracle Bone Inscriptions 甲骨綴合集, Rejoined Oracle Bone Inscriptions II 甲骨綴合集續集, Studies of Fascicle Three of Inscriptions of the Yin Ruins 殷墟文字丙編研究, and A Study of Qin Characters 秦系文字研究.  Oracle Bone Characters 甲骨文字編 is a product of two decades of effort, and represents a significant contribution to the understanding of the forms of oracle bone characters. 

New sources for the study of ancient characters are discovered and become available each year, with a concentration of publications relating to the analysis and interpretation of newly excavated oracle bone and bronze inscriptions and Qin and Chu bamboo and wooden slips.  The research efforts of the Philology Department fall broadly into the three categories of oracle bones, bronze inscriptions, and bamboo and wooden slips.  Based on the results of the rigorous analysis of these sources, the Department has also expanded its work into new fields, including the comparison of excavated and classical texts; pre-Qin society and ritual; and bronze inscriptions and the history of the development of Chinese characters.  

In 2006, the Philology Department held the First Annual Conference on Paleography and Early Chinese History, which showcased the IHP’s tradition of combining the research of ancient characters and ancient history.  Conference proceedings were published as Paleography and Early Chinese History 古文字與古代史.  Subsequently, the conference has been held every two years, and has continued to encourage the use of ancient characters to research ancient history and promote more discoveries.  Up to the present, there have been five conferences, each one of them producing another volume of Paleography and Early Chinese History

Members of the Department participate in collaborative and group research facilitated by the Artifacts and Images and Ancient Civilizations research centers.  The Bronze Inscriptions Research Group has for many years helped promote communication between researchers working in the fields of art history, archaeology, history, and paleography.  The Department creates, expands, and maintains digital databases for paleography on a continual basis, and also organizes and publishes the rare historical source materials in the IHP’s collections.  These efforts have produced the Digital Archives of Bronze Images and Inscriptions (殷周金文暨青銅器資料庫), the Database of Character Structure (漢字構形資料庫), the Database of Pre-Qin Bronze Vessel Decoration (先秦銅器紋飾資料庫), the Lexicon of Pre-Qin Oracle, Bronze Inscriptions and Bamboo Scripts (先秦甲骨金文簡牘詞彙資料庫), Bronze Vessel Rubbings from the Fu Ssu-nien Library 傅斯年圖書館珍藏青銅器全形拓精品集, Ritual Bronzes from the Institute of History and Philology 史語所購藏青銅器選集 (in progress), Oracle Bones from the Institute of History and Philology 史語所購藏甲骨選集 (in progress), and the Sung Edition of Wenyuan Yinghua 宋本文苑英華.  Work continues on other source materials yet to be made available to the public, including oracle bone fragments, rubbings of bronze inscriptions, Chen Jieqi’s correspondence, and other holdings of the Fu Ssu-nien Library.  In 2013, the IHP began working with the National Museum of History to process and study its collection of oracle bones.  Through all of these efforts, the Philology Department has made significant contributions to scholarship and greatly influenced the study of ancient Chinese artifacts, writing, and history.

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