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POO Mu-chou

BA (National Taiwan University); MA (The Johns Hopkins University), PhD (The Johns Hopkins University)
Director of Center for the Comparative Study of Antiquity, Research Institute for the Humanities, CUHK;
Vice Chair; Research Professor, Department of History, CUHK


Address: Room 102, Fung King Hey Building, CUHK, NT, Hong Kong
Phone: (852) 3943 7114

Professor Poo has worked and taught at Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan University, UCLA, Columbia, Grinnell College, and is now Chair Professor of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is one of the very few scholars in the field of Ancient History who did original research in both Egyptian and Chinese history and culture, and pioneered the study of comparative ancient history. So far he has contributed at least one English monograph to each of these areas. His publications in Egyptology include a monograph Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt. His book, In Search of Personal Welfare-A View of Ancient Chinese Religion, is a trail-blazer in the study of ancient Chinese popular religion by utilizing newly excavated texts and archaeological material as well as transmitted documents. His publication, Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and China, compares for the first time the issue of cultural consciousness in ancient civilizations, how and why they differed from each other, and provided a concrete example to show how comparative study of ancient history is possible and valuable. His forthcoming book, Daily Life in Ancient China, is to be published by the Cambridge University Press.

Research Specializations and Interests

  1. Egyptology
  2. History of the Ancient Near East
  3. Comparative Ancient History
  4. History and Religion of Ancient and Medieval China


1991 Award for Outstanding Research, National Science Council, R.O.C.
1993 Publication Grant for Important Scholarly Work, R.O.C. News Bureau NT$ 200,000
1995 Publication Grant for Important Scholarly Work, R.O.C. News Bureau NT$ 200,000
1995 Award for the Best Paper in Interdisciplinary Approach, Seventh International Congress of Egyptologists, Cambridge, England
2001-03 Distinguished Chair, China Foundation, R.O.C. US$ 20,000
2002-05 Distinguished Research Award, National Science Council, R.O.C. NT $ 900,000
2006 Outstanding Scholarship Award, Ministry of Education, R.O.C. NT $ 600,000
2006-10 Outstanding Scholarship Chair: Foundation for the Advancement of Outstanding Scholarship, Taipei. NT$ 2,750,000
2007 Plenary speech: “Making Sense by Comprehending Sensibility: A View of Chinese Religions.” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Nov. 18, 2007, San Diego

Research Projects

  1. The Culture of Ghost in Ancient China
  2. Witchcraft, Politics and Culture in China from Han to Tang
  3. A Cross-cultural Study of Ghost
  4. A Comparative Study of the World after Death in the Ancient World
  5. Revering the Past: The Formation and Development of a Cultural Tradition
  6. A Comparative Study of the Attitude toward Foreigners in Ancient China, Egypt and Mesopotamia
  7. A Study of Popular Religion in Ancient China from pre-Qin to the Han Dynasty
  8. A study of Han Tombs

Course Offered

  1. History of the Ancient Near East
  2. History of Ancient Egypt
  3. Western Civilization
  4. Graduate Seminar on Society and Religion in Ancient and Medieval China
  5. Readings in Ancient Western History
  6. Graduate Seminar on Comparative Ancient History
  7. Graduate Seminar on Intellectual and Religious Tradition of Early Imperial China
  8. Graduate Seminar on Chinese Religion
  9. Readings in Ancient Egyptian Art
  10. The Construction of Antiquity in Early Modern Europe and China
  11. In Search for an Explanation: Religious Piety in Ancient China, Egypt and Mesopotamia

Selected Publications

[A] Books in Chinese

  1. 世界文化史A History of World Civilizations, 2 vols. (A textbook for the Senior High School in the Republic of China) (Taipei: National Bureau of Publication, 1986).
  2. 西洋文明發展史A History of Western Civilization, co-authored with Tuan Ch'ang-kuo, Wu Chun-i & Chuang Shang-wu (Taipei: National Open University, 1990).
  3. 墓葬與生死 -- 中國古代宗教之省思Burial Styles and Ideas of Life and Death -- Reflections on the Religion of Ancient China (Taipei: Lianjing, 1993; 2nd edition: Beijing: Zhonghua, 2008.)
  4. 尼羅河畔的文采 -- 古埃及文選 Literature by the Nile: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Literature (Taipei: Yuanliu, 1993)
  5. 追尋一己之福-中國古代的信仰世界In Search of Personal WelfareThe World of Beliefs in Ancient China  (Taipei: Yunchen, 1995) (2nd edition, Taipei: Maitian, 2004; Shanghai: Guji Chubanshe, 2007).
  6. 中國文化史 A History of Chinese Culture (co-authored with Ping-chen. Hsiung) (Taipei: Donghua, 1997)
  7. 法老的國度--古埃及文化史 The Land of the Pharaohs: A Cultural History of Ancient Egypt (Taipei: Maitian, 2001, 2012, 2017; Guilin: Guanxi Normal University Press: 2003)
  8. 古代宗教與信仰 Ancient Religion and Belief (Taipei: National Taiwan University, 2003)
  9. 鬼魅神魔—中國通俗文化側寫(編)Edited: Ghosts, Demons, Deities and Mara: A View of Chinese Common Culture (Taipei: Maitian, 2005)
  10. 生活與文化(編)Edited: Life and Culture(Beijing: Zhongguo dabaike quanshu chubanshe, 2005).
  11. 西洋上古文化—探索與反思 A Cultural History of the Ancient West (Taipei: Sanmin Publishing, 2009)
  12. 飲食傳播與文化交流(編)Edited: Distribution of Food and Drink and Cultural Exchange (Taipei: Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture, 2009).
  13. 禮法與信仰:中國古代女性研究論考(編)Edited: Law and Belief—Women in Ancient China (Hong Kong: Shangwu yinshuguan, 2013)
  14. 歷史與宗教之間Between History and Religion (Hong Kong: Sanlian Shuju, 2016)

[B] Books in English

  1. Wine and Wine Offering in the Religion of Ancient Egypt (London: Kegan Paul International, Egyptological Series, 1995)
  2. In Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998)
  3. Enemies of Civilization: Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2005)
  4. (Ed.) Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2009)
  5. (Ed. With Harold Drake, Lisa Raphals) Old Society, New Belief: Religious Transformation of China and Rome, ca.1st -6th Centuries (Oxford University Press, 2017).
  6. Daily Life in Ancient China (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

[C] Articles in Chinese

  1. 古埃及的智慧--普塔和泰普的箴言 "The wisdom of Ancient Egypt: The Maximum of Ptahhotep.” Thought and Word 16,4 (1978): 71-85.
  2. 最古老的小說--西努赫的故事  " The Oldest Novel: The Story of Sinuhe.” 中外文學Chung-Wai Literary Monthly 9. 11 (1981): 58-68.
  3. 試析舊約創世紀約瑟故事之埃及背景 "The Egyptian Background of the Joseph Story," 台灣大學歷史學報National Taiwan University Department of History Bulletin 8 (1981): 163-172.
  4. 埃及新王國時代的對外關係 "The Foreign Relations of the Egyptian New Kingdom.” 思與言Thought and Word 19, 5 (1982): 1-7.
  5. 漢摩拉比法典的性質 "The Nature of the Code of Hammurapi -- a Review Article.” 食貨Shih-huo, 13, 11/12 (1984): 12-21.
  6. 古埃及的文字與文學 "The Language and Literature of Ancient Egypt.” 古埃及文物The Artifacts of Ancient Egypt (Taipei: National Museum of History, 1985), pp. 25-31.
  7. 巫蠱之禍的政治意義 "The Political Significance of the Case of Witchcraft.” in 歷史語言研究所集刊Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 57, 3 (1987): 511-38.
  8. 酒與古埃及宗教 "Wine and the Religion of Ancient Egypt.” 歷史語言研究所集刊Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 60, 1 (1989): 75-91.
  9. 論中國古代墓葬形制 "The development of burial styles in Ancient China.” 台灣大學文史哲學報Bulletin of the College of Liberal Arts of National Taiwan University 37 (1989): 235-279.
  10. 神仙與高僧—魏晉南北朝宗教心態試探  "Immortals and Eminent Monks: a Study of Religious Mentality in the Wei, Chin, and Southern and Northern Dynasties.” 漢學研究Chinese Studies 8, 2 (1990): 149-176.
  11. (11)  漢代薄葬論的歷史背景及其意義 "The Historical Background and Significance of the Idea of Thrifty Burial in Han China.” 歷史語言研究所集刊Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 61, 1 (1990): 533-73.
  12. 古埃及的社會倫理 "Social Ethics in Ancient Egypt.” 台灣大學文史哲學報Bulletin of the College of Liberal Arts of National Taiwan University 38 (1990): 196-212.
  13. 睡虎地秦簡《日書》的世界 "The World of the Almanacs of Ch'in.” 歷史語言研究所集刊Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 62, 4 (1991): 623-75.
  14. 古埃及文明的衰亡:理論與事實 "The Decline of Egyptian Civilization: Theory and Facts.” 第一屆全國歷史學學術討論會議文集 Proceedings of the First National Conference of History (Taipei: National Taiwan University, 1996), pp. 1-20.
  15. 漢代知識分子與民間信仰 "Han Intellectuals and Popular Religion.” in Integrated Studies of Chinese Archaeology and Historiography (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 1997), pp. 561-603.
  16. 古代中國、埃及與兩河流域對異族態度之比較研究 "A Comparative Study of the Attitudes toward Foreigners in Ancient China, Egypt and Mesopotamia.” 漢學研究 Chinese Studies 17, 2 (1999):137-168.
  17. 生活史與人類學 “History of Daily Life and Anthropology.” in學術史與方法學的省思 Historical and Methodological Reflections on the Development of Modern Chinese Humanities (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 2000), pp. 317-333.
  18. 論古埃及與兩河流域的淨化儀式 “The Purification Ritual in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.” 台灣宗教研究Taiwan Journal of Religious Studies 2, 1 (2002): 145-162.
  19. 古埃及神廟中的儀式與祭文“Ritual and Liturgy in the Egyptian Temples.” 台灣宗教研究Taiwan Journal of Religious Studies 4, 2 (2004):205-219.
  20. 中國古代鬼論述的形成 “The Discourse on Ghost in Ancient China.” in 蒲慕州編Mu-chou Poo ed., 鬼魅神魔—中國通俗文化側寫 Ghosts, Demons, Deities and Mara: A View of Chinese Common Culture (Taipei: Mai-tian, 2005), pp. 19-40.
  21. 死後世界的想像—一個比較的觀點 “The imagination of the world after death: a comparative view.” in鄭培凱編Pei-kai Cheng ed., 宗教信仰與想像Religious Beliefs and Imagination(Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press,2007), pp. 55-85.
  22. 中國古代的信仰與日常生活“Belief and Daily Life in Ancient China.” In Lin Fushih 林富士ed., Zhongguoshi xinlun: Zongjiao fence 中國史新論:宗教分冊(Taipei: Academia Sinica and Lianjing, 2010), pp. 13-64.
  23. 循理以明情:中國宗教管窺 “ Making Sense by Comprehending Sensibility: A View of Chinese Religions.” In 黎志添編Lai Chi-tim ed., 華人學術處境中的宗教研究 (香港: 三聯書店, 2012), pp. 68-87.
  24. 先秦兩漢的尊古思維與政治權威 “Revering the Past and Political Authority in Ancient China.” In 黎明釗編, 漢帝國的制度與社會秩序 (香港:牛津大學出版社, 2012), pp. 1-45.
  25.  漢代之信仰, 想像, 與幸福之追求 “Belief, Imagination, and the Quest for Happiness in the Han Dynasty. ” In 邢義田,劉增貴編, 古代庶民社會 (第四屆國際漢學會議論文集)(台北: 中央研究院, 2013), pp. 299-323.
  26.  日本明治時代教科書中之古代近東“Ancient Near East in the Textbooks of the Meiji Period in Japan.” In 國立台灣師範大學歷史學系編,世界史學術研討會論文集(台北:國立台灣師範大學歷史學系,2014), pp. 1-21.
  27.  死後世界的想像: 古埃及的信仰與幸福的追求 “Imagining the Netherworld: Belief and the Search for Happiness in Ancient Egypt.” In李奭學、黎子鵬編, 他界書寫論文集 ( 台北:中央研究院,2015), pp. 507-528.

[D] Articles in English

  1. “Weinopfer, ” In Lexikon der Aegyptologie, vol. 6, (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1986), 1186-1900.
  2. “A Typological Study of the Liturgy of Wine Offering in the Ptolemaic temples.” Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology 60, 4 (1989): 779-828.
  3. “Ideas Concerning Death and Burial in pre-Han and Han China.” Asia Major (3rd series) 3, 2 (1990): 25-62. 
  4. “The Liturgies of the Offering of Mirrors: A Structural Analysis.” In VI Congresso Internazionale di Egittologia - Atti (Turin:1993), pp. 347-352.
  5. “Popular Religion in Pre-Imperial China: Observation on the Almanacs of Shui-hu-ti.” T'oung Pao LXXIX (1993): 225-248.
  6. “The Emergence of Cultural Consciousness in Ancient Egypt and China: A Comparative Perspective.” In Essays in Egyptology in Honor of Hans Goedicke eds. Betsy M. Bryan & David Lorton, (San Antonio, Van Siclen Books, 1994), pp. 191-200.
  7. “The Images of Immortals and Eminent Monks: Religious Mentality in Early Medieval China.” Numen 42 (1995): 172-196.
  8. “The Completion of an Ideal World: The Human Ghost in Early Medieval China.” Asia Major 10 (1997): 69-94.
  9. “Encountering the Strangers: A Comparative Study of Cultural Consciousness in Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China.” Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Egyptologists. (Louven: Peters, 1998), pp. 885-892.
  10. “The Ancient Egyptian Attitudes toward Foreigners.” In Politics and Religion in Ancient and Medieval Europe and China, F. H.-M. Cheung & M.C. Lai eds., (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1999), pp. 1-19.
  11. “The Use and Abuse of Wine in Ancient China.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 42, 2 (1999):1-29.
  12. “Ghost Literature: Exorcistic Ritual Texts or Daily Entertainment?” Asia Major 3rd series, 13, 1 (2000):43-64.
  13. “Wine.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, vol. 3 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 502-503.
  14. “The Nature of Hope in Pre-Buddhist Chinese Religion.” In D. L Overmyer and C. T. Lai eds., Interpretations of Hope in Chinese Religions and Christianity (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002), pp. 33-60.
  15. “Imperial Order and Local Variation: The Culture of Ghost in Early Imperial China.” Acta Orientalia 56 (2003) nos. 2-4, 295-308.
  16. “Egyptology and Comparative Ancient History.” Proceedings of the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists vol. 2 (Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2003), 448-54.
  17. “The Concept of Ghost in Ancient Chinese Religion.” In John Lagerwey ed., Chinese Religion and Society vol. 1 (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004), pp. 173-191.
  18. “How to Steer through Life: Negotiating Fate in the Daybook.” In Christopher Lupke ed., The Magnitude of Ming (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005), pp. 107-125.
  19. “Afterlife: Chinese Concept.” In Lindsay Jones ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion (New Edition)(New York: Macmillian Co., 2005), vol 1: 169-172.
  20. “A Taste of Happiness: Contextualizing Elixirs in Baopuzi.” In Roel Sterckx ed., Of Tripod and Palate : Food, Politics, and Religion in Traditional China (New York: Palgrave, 2005), pp. 123-139.
  21. “Ritual Liturgies in the Ptolemaic Temples: The Cases of Libation and Beer Offering.” In Victor V. Solkin ed., Ancient Egypt vol II (On the Occasion of the 150th Birthday Anniversary of Vladimir S. Golenischev) (Moscow, 2006), pp. 110-124.
  22. “The Formation of the Conception of Antiquity in Early China.” In Dieter Kuhn & Helga Stahl eds., Perceptions of Antiquity in Chinese Civilization, (Heidelberg: Edition Forum, 2007), pp. 85-101.
  23. “Introduction.” In Mu-chou Poo ed., Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 1-21.
  24. “The Culture of Ghost in the Six Dynasties.” In Mu-chou Poo ed., Rethinking Ghosts in World Religions (Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp. 237-267.
  25. “Ritual and Ritual Texts in Early China.” In John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski eds., Early Chinese Religion, Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC- 220 AD)(Leiden: Brill, 2009), pp.281-313.
  26. “Images and Ritual Treatment of Dangerous Spirits.” In John Lagerwey and Lü Pengzhi eds., Early Chinese Religion, Part Two: The Period of Division (220- 589 AD)(Leiden: Brill, 2010), pp.1075-1094.
  27. “Justice, Morality, and Skepticism in Six Dynasties Ghost Stories.” In Alan Chan & Yuet-keung Lo eds., Interpretation and Literature in Early Medieval China (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2010): 251-71.
  28. “Liquids in Temple Ritual.” UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology (UCLA: 2010).
  29. “Preparation for the Afterlife in Ancient China.” In Amy Olberding & P. J. Ivanhoe eds., Mortality in Traditional China (University of Hawaii Press, 2011), 13-36.
  30. “Wisdom Literature in Comparison: Ancient Egypt and China.” InGalina A. Belova and Sergej V. Ivanov eds., Achievements and Problems in Modern Egyptology (Moscow: Russian Academy of Science, 2011), 297-311.
  31. “Ancient Chinese Religion.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies. Ed. Tim Wright. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.4.22.
  32. “The Cultural Construction of Hero (ying-xiong) in Chinese History.” In Susan Brownell ed., From Athens to Beijing: West meets East in the Olympic Games, Volume I: Sport, the Body, and Humanism in Ancient Greece and China. (New York: Greekworks, 2013), pp. 125-137.
  33. “To Become a Chinese: Cultural Consciousness and Political Legitimacy in Early Medieval China (220-681).” In Ulbe Bosma, Gijs Kessler and Leo Lucassen. eds., Migration and Membership Regimes in Global and Historical Perspective. (Leiden: Brill, 2013), pp. 169-189.
  34.  “Religion and religious life of the Qin.” In Yuri Pines et al. eds., Birth of an Empire: The State of Qin Revisited (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014), pp. 187-205.
  35.  “Ghost.” In R. A. Segal & K. von Stuckrad eds., Vocabulary for the Study of Religion (Leiden: Brill, 2015), vol. 2, pp. 97-100.
  36.  “Early Chinese afterlife beliefs and funerary practices.” In Christopher Moreman ed., Routledge Companion to Death and Dying (London: Routledge, 2017. 5), pp. 163-172. 
  37. Poo, Mu-chou, “The Taming of Ghosts in Early Chinese Buddhism.” In Mu-chou Poo, Harold Drake, and Lisa Raphals eds., Old Society, New Belief: Religious Transformation of China and Rome, ca.1st -6th Centuries (Oxford University Press, 2017), 165-181.
  38. “Death and Happiness: Han China.” In Kayrn Lai, Rick Benitez, and Hyun Jin Kim eds., Cultivating a Good Life in Early Chinese and Ancient Greek Philosophy: Perspectives and Reverberations (London: Bloomsbury, 2018), pp. 237-251.

[E] Reviews

(Items with * are in Chinese)

  1. *" M. Loewe, Crisis and Conflict in Han China漢代的危機與衝突.” 食貨月刊 Shih-huo Monthly 6, 6 (1976): 289-292. 
  2. *"B. Schwartz ed., Wisdom, Revelation, and Doubt, Perspective on the First Millennium B.C. Daedalus (1975) 評介: 智慧、啟示與懷疑--對西元前一千年的透視, " 史學評論  Chinese Historical Review 2 (1980): 225-238.
  3. "E. Edel, Die Felsgräbernekropole der Qubbet el Hawa bei Assuan, Abt. II, Bd. 4, Paläographie der althieratischen Gefässaufschriften aus den Grabungsjahren 1960 bis 1973.” Journal of American Research Center in Egyp 20 (1983): 106-107.
  4. "S. Sauneron, L'Écriture figurative dans les textes d'Esna .” Journal of American Research Center in Egypt 20, (1983): 113-115.
  5. *"Michael Loewe, Ways to Paradise: The Chinese Quest for Immortality.” 漢學研究Chinese Studies 3, 1 (1985): 343-347. 
  6. *"Paul Veyne ed., A History of Private Life vol. I, -- From Pagan Rome to
  7. Byzantium.” 新史學 New History 1, 2 (1990): 167-175.
  8. *"Stephen F. Teiser, The Ghost Festival in Medieval China.” 新史學 New History 3, 1 (1992): 191-98.
  9. *"Recent Studies on the History of Private Life in the West.” 新史學 New History, 3,4 (1992): 139-53.
  10. *"Peter Burke: History and Social Theory.” 新史學 New History 5, 4 (1994): 197-207.
  11. "Jan Assmann, Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom.” Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 40, 3 (1997): 299-300.
  12. "A. Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian, A Linguistic Introduction.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 30, 2 (1997): 383-385.
  13. "Gay Robins, The Art of Ancient Egypt.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 31, 2 (1998): 493-494.
  14. “T. Lippiello, Auspicious Omens and Miracles in Ancient China: Han, Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties.” Journal of Chinese Religions 31 (2003): 273-74.
  15. *“Giovanni Rebora, Culture of the Fork: A Brief History of Food in Europe.”中國飲食文化Journal of Chinese Dietary Culture 1: 1 (2005): 135-138.
  16. *“Victor H. Mair ed., Contact and Exchange in the Ancient World.” 漢學研究Chinese Studies 25.2 (2007): 439-444.
  17. “Roel Sterckx, Food, Sacrifice, and Sagehood in Early China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 72.2 (2012):423-430.
  18. “Lai Guolong, Excavating the Afterlife: The Archaeology of Early Chinese Religion.” 浙江大學藝術與考古研究(第三輯)Zhejiang University Journal of Art and Archaeology 3 (2018):237-42.