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Technologies like sonar or ultrasound demonstrate that sound can contribute to society in ways that are not easily visible. In this video, NOA HEGESH explores the notable role that sound played in early and medieval China in areas as diverse as the calendar, weights and measures and prognostication. Identifying and translating relevant texts and artifacts before situating them in context, Hegesh highlights the ways that sound as understood in relation to concepts like qi and yin and yang helped to underpin the power held by the Emperor and his ruling dynasty in this period of Chinese history.


Noa Hegesh is a lecturer in the Dept. of East Asian Studies at Tel Aviv University and a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science where she did a postdoctoral fellowship. Having completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, Hegesh’s research focuses on musical thought and sound as a technology in Early and Early Medieval China. In 2022, Hegesh was awarded Tel Aviv University’s Zvi Yavez School of Historical Studies Prize for research excellence.

Original publication

Mind the Gap: Acoustical Answers to Cosmological Concerns in First-Century B.C.E. China.

Hegesh Noa
Published in 2021