Select Page

Charlotte Zhu MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Asian History, History & Philosophy of Science and Technology, History of Knowledge, Transnational History, History of Mathematics

Cohort/Start PhD: 2023-2024

Lost in Transmission: Two Ancient Astrological Texts in the Two Ancient Astrological Traditions – the Transmission of Zhoubi Suanjing 周髀算經 in China and Mathesis in the West

University of Amsterdam

Supervisors: Prof. dr. I. van Renswoude, Dr. G.W.H. Dijkstra

Duration of appointment: 01 Feb 2024 – 01 July 2029

For thousands of years, humans have gazed up at the heavens in their quest to unravel the relationship between human life and the ever-revolving universe. Astrology has existed for thousands of years, fostered important advancements in mathematics and astronomy, and played a significant role in individual and collective spirituality.

My research aims to explore the evolution of astrological texts in two ancient civilizations: ancient China and the Hellenistic world. To investigate the changes in the textual transmission—what was included or omitted, and why—I propose to examine the physical characteristics of the texts, focusing on manuscripts and early modern printed books. Utilizing frameworks that chart the lifecycle of a text from its creation to its reception, the thesis aims to uncover the processes through which astrological texts were created, adapted, and interpreted over time. The study will conduct a detailed analysis of two seminal works: Zhoubi Suanjing and Mathesis. By tracing the modifications made to these texts, the research will illuminate how they were altered to align with evolving cultural, philosophical, and scientific contexts.