chapter  3
20 Pages

Archives and archival practices in Asia and Africa, antiquity to the eighteenth century

ByPaul Delsalle

This chapter provides a brief introduction to aspects of archival management in a number of parts of Asia: China, Tibet, Ladakh, India and Japan, then to the civilisations and empires which straddled Asia and north Africa. From the earliest times writing was of great importance in China: it was sacred, with a magico-religious significance. The Imperial Historical Archives was erected between 1534 and 1536 and is the oldest surviving archival building in China. The common problem of distinguishing between archives and libraries is again apparent in the institution of the lamasery, or Buddhist monastery. Korean archival practice was closely bound up with the compilation of chronicles and dynastic histories. The nature of archival practices in the civilisations of ancient India remains obscure, despite the large amount of documentation produced. The Roman empire in the East endured until the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453.