Constance Cook

Professor and Chair
Williams Hall, Room 484
PhD, University of California, Berkeley


The study of excavated texts from ancient China.

Professor Constance Cook, PhD University of California, Berkeley, specializes in the study of excavated texts from ancient China. Her books and articles focus on the examination of these texts in the context of material culture and what they can tell us about belief systems and local practices. She teaches courses on Chinese history, language, literature, medicine, religion, and culture. She was awarded the Class of 1961 Professorship as well as fellowships from International Consortium for Research in the Humanities"Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe"at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Academic year 2017-2018, she was the Hetty Goldman member in Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and in 2018 Lehigh University awarded her the National Endowment of Humanities Distinguished Chair position for seven years.

Selected publications:


Dice and Gods on the Silk Road: Buddhist Dice Divination in Transcultural Context. Co-authored with Brandon Dotson and Zhao Lu. Brill, 2021.

Birth in Ancient China. Co-authored with Luo Xinhui. SUNY Press, 2017

Stalk Divination: An Alternative to the I-ching. Co-authored with Zhao Lu. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Ancestors, Kings, and the Dao. Harvard University Asian Center. 2017

History of Ancient China. With J. Major. Routledge Press. 2016

A Sourcebook of Ancient Chinese Bronze Inscriptions. Ed. & written with P. Goldin. Society for the Study of Early China Monograph 7. 2016

Death in Ancient China: The Tale of One Man’s Journey. Leiden: Brill Press. 2006

Defining Chu: Image and Reality in Ancient China. Ed. & written with J. Major, University of Hawaii Press. 1999



Forthcoming, “Prognostication and Early Chinese Excavated Texts,” in the Chinese Prognostication Handbook series, Vol. 1, Leiden: Brill.

2021 “Placing the Zhouyi in BCE Stalk Divination Traditions: Views from Newly Discovered Texts” with Andrea Bréard. Hon Tze-ki ed. The Yijing: Alternative Visions and Practices. Leiden: Brill.

2020 “The Role of Female Trigrams in the Fourth Century BCE Stalk Divination text, Shifa 筮法,” S. Chan, ed., Rediscovering Early China: Perspectives from the Recovered Ancient Texts. Sydney: The Oriental Society of Australia.

2019 “Which comes first? Dao or De: Evidence from Guodian Manuscripts,” S. Chan, ed., Dao Companion to the Guodian Bamboo Manuscripts. Springer.

2019   “Contextualizing ‘Becoming a Complete Person’ in the Tang zai Chimen,” Eds. Michael Lüdke and Sarah Allan. Human Nature, Morality, and Fate in the Tsinghua University Bamboo Manuscripts. Tsinghua University.

2013    “Pre-Han Healing.” T.J. Hinrichs & Linda L. Barnes, eds. Chinese Medicine and Healing An Illustrated History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard    University. Pp.  5-29.

2011   “Education and the Way of the Former Kings.” F. Li & D. Branner, eds. Literacy in Ancient China. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Pp. 302-336.

2009  “Ancestor worship during the Eastern Zhou.” Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD). J. Lagerwey and M. Kalinowski. Leiden: Brill. Pp. 237-79.

2007   “Ritual, Politics, and the Issue of feng.” Shi Quan jiaoshou jiushi danchen jinian wenji [Memorial volume in honor of Prof. Shi Quan’s Ninetieth Birthday]. Wuhan University Historical Geography Research Center, comp. Wuhan: Hubei renmin. Pp. 215-67.

2005    “Moonshine and Millet: Feasting and Purification Rituals in Ancient China.”     Chapter One in Of Tripod and Palate: Food and Religion in Traditional  China. Roel Sterckx, ed. New York: Palgrave. Pp. 9-33.

2002  “Xi Zhou zaoqimu zhong tongqi duozuduoming wenti shitan" [The Problem of Multiple Names on Bronzes in Early Western Zhou Tombs].  Wang Yuzhong and Zhang Maorong ed., Zuixun zhongguo gudai wenming de zongji--Li Xueqin xiansheng xueshu huodong wushinian (1950-2000) [Festschrift for Li Xueqin Celebrating Fifty Years of Scholarship]. Shanghai: Fudan University Press. Pp. 377-388.



2021 “Guanyu ‘xin’ zai Han yiqian chutu wenxian zhong suo biaoshi de shenti buwei ji qi neihan bianhua de yanjiu” 关于“心”在汉以前出土文献中所表示的身体部位及其内涵变化的研究 [Changes in the role of the “heart” in the body in pre-Han excavated texts], with Cai Lili. Qinghua jian yanjiu.

2019    Andrea Bréard, C. A. Cook, “Cracking bones and numbers: solving the enigma of numerical sequences on ancient Chinese artifacts,” Archive for History of Exact Sciences 74 (2020): 313-343. Online Dec. 2019.

            This article was reviewed in ZBMath Open

2017    “A Fatal Case of Gu 蠱 Poisoning in the Fourth Century BC?” East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine, 44 (2016): 61-122.

2017   “Mother and the Embodiment of the Dao.” Journal of Chinese Philosophy 42 (March-June 2015) 1-2: 242-49.

2016   “Shiyong Qinghuajian ‘Shifa’ jiedu Baoshan zhanbu jilu zhong gua yi” 試用清華簡《筮法》解讀包山占卜記錄中卦義, Jianbo yanjiu 2016: 12-22.

2015    “Sun zhi sui” 巽之祟. Wen Shi Zhe 文史哲2015.6: 66-72, 165.

2015    “Mu yu Dao de juxiang” 母与道的具象. Guanzi xuekan 管子学刊 2015.1: 80-82.

2013    “Wenben yu zhi yi, sheng yu xing” 文本與岐義,‘生’與‘性’. Jianbo, gudian, gushi 簡帛。古典。故事. Chen Zhi, ed.  Shanghai: Shnghai guji, 329-344.

2013    “Chu xianzu de dansheng gushi” 楚先祖的誕生故事. Xian Qin shi yanjiu dongtai 先秦史研究動態 2013.2: 28-45. Revised version in Luo Yunhuan, ed. Chu jian Chu wenhua yu xian Qin lishi wenhua guoji xueshu yantaohui lunwenji 楚簡楚文化與先秦歷史文化國際敘述研討會論文集. Wuhan: Hubei jiaoyu, 2013, 134-155.        

2013   “The Ambiguity of Text, Birth and Nature.” Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 12 (June 2013) 2: 161-178.

2012-2013 “Sage King Yu & the Bin Gong xu.” Early China 35 (2012-2013): 69-103.