Urbanization in Early and Medieval China

Gazetteers for the City of Suzhou

Translated and introduced by Olivia Milburn

  • Published: 2015. Paperback February 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Literary Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 400 pp., 17 maps; 10 tables, 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

The heart of Urbanization in Early and Medieval China consists of translations of three gazetteers written during the Han (206 BCE-220 CE), Tang (618-907), and Northern Song (960-1126) dynasties describing the city of Suzhou. The texts allow the reader to trace the dramatic changes that occurred as the city experienced enormous political and social upheavals over nine centuries. Each translation is accompanied by extensive annotation and a detailed discussion of the historical background of the text, authorship, and publication history.

The book also traces the development of the gazetteer genre, the history of urban planning in China, and what we know about the early development of Suzhou from other texts and archaeological research.

Urbanization in Early and Medieval China will be useful not only to scholars of Chinese history, but to scholars studying architecture and urban planning as well.
Olivia Milburn is associate professor of Chinese literature at Seoul National University. She is the author of Cherishing Antiquity: The Cultural Construction of an Ancient Chinese Kingdom and translator of The Glory of Yue: An Annotated Translation of the Yuejue shu.

"An extraordinary achievement. The scholarship is sound, and the author's command of both primary and secondary sources is quite impressive. The translations from Chinese to English are superb. They are both faithful to the original text and read quite well in English. The topic is important. Virtually all scholars who deal with premodern China at some time or another turn to these local histories for information."
-James Hargett, translator of Treatises of the Supervisor and Guardian of the Cinnamon Sea

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading Urbanization in Early and Medieval China. It includes a wealth of information that is not available anywhere else. The scholarship is superior."
-Nancy Steinhardt, author of Chinese Architecture in an Age of Turmoil, 200-600

A Note on Nomenclature
Chronology of Chinese Dynasties


Three Gazetteers of Suzhou
Tales of the Lands of Wu
Records of the Lands of Wu
Supplementary Records to the "Illustrated Guide to Wu Commandery"

Analysis and Comparisons


"Urbanization in Early and Medieval China has done a significant service to the field by making available a much-needed new set of Suzhou-focused texts for historians, literary scholars, and cultural geographers of early and medieval China. For those of us who teach seminars on Chinese cities past of present, this book will provide ample productive reading material with which to provoke discussion, along with texts with which to launch research projects-at any level."
-Linda Rui Feng, China Review International: A Journal of Reviews of Scholarly Literature in Chinese Studies