Armin Selbitschka

Assistant Professor of Ancient History


Armin Selbitschka is Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow at NYU Shanghai. Prior to joining NYU Shanghai, he taught at Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich. He holds a PhD from LMU Munich and was a Humboldt Foundation Feodor Lynen Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. Selbitschka is also affiliated with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).

Professor Selbitschka’s research interests are social and religious history of late pre-imperial and early imperial China as well as archaeology of the early Silk Road(s). Moreover, his work critically examines the complex interrelation between material culture (including excavated manuscripts) and transmitted literature. His book Prestigegüter entlang der Seidenstraße? Archäologische und historische Untersuchungen zu Chinas Beziehungen zu Kulturen des Tarimbeckens vom zweiten bis frühen fünften Jahrhundert nach Christus [Prestige Goods on the Silk Road? An Archaeological and Historical Study of Chinese Relations with Cultures of the Tarim Basin from the 2nd through early 5th Centuries CE] was published by Harrassowitz in Wiesbaden in 2010. In addition, his work has appeared in Asia Major (AM), World Archaeology, and theBulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities (BMFEA).

Professor Selbitschka has been a fellow of the German Research Foundation [Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft; DFG] Research Training Group [Graduiertenkolleg] “Forms of Prestige in Ancient Cultures” at LMU Munich. He was also LMU Munich-UC Berkeley Research in the Humanities Short-term Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley.

Research Interests

  • Early China studies
  • Chinese archaeology
  • Silk Road studies / intercultural contacts
  • Early Chinese historiography

Recent Publications

  • “The Pitfalls of Second-hand Information: On the Traditionalist Dogma in Chinese Excavation Reports,” forthcoming in Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 79-80 (2015).
  • “Miniature Tomb Figurines and Models in Pre-imperial and Early Imperial China: Origins, Development, and Significance,” World Archaeology 47.1 (2015): 20-44.
  • “Early Chinese Diplomacy: Realpolitik vs. the so-called Tributary System,” Asia Major, Third Series 28.1 (2015): 61-114.
  • “The Tomb Complex and its Hidden Secrets,” in Qin: The Eternal Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors, ed. Maria Khayutina (Zürich: NZZ, 2013), pp. 144-53.
  • “The Terracotta Men and their Roles,” in Qin: The Eternal Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors, ed. Maria Khayutina (Zürich: NZZ, 2013), pp. 156-63.


  • Dr. phil. (Ph.D.), Sinology
    Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, 2011
  • M.A. (Magister Artium), Sinology
    Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, 2004


  • German (native)
  • English (fluent)
  • French (elementary)
  • Latin (elementary)
  • Modern Chinese (fluent)
  • Classical Chinese (advanced)
  • Japanese (elementary)
  • Classical Mongolian (elementary)