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Inc April 29th, 2012 07:38 PM

Roman, Han Empires - how close did they get?
 
Was reading about Han General Ban Chao conquering the Tarim Basin in western China. He extended Han power through Turkestan, and only the Caspian Sea & Armenian mountains seperated both Empires.

I'm guessing that this is the closest than the Han, or any Chinese dynasty, ever were to Rome. Thoughts?

Oh - the year given for the above is 94 AD.

Guaporense April 29th, 2012 07:40 PM

Well, the "successor states" of both empires actually meet at the early middle ages: the Abbasids fought the Tangs in 751 AD. The Abbasids won that particular engagement.

The Han knew the existence of Rome and they referred to then as "Great Qin". The Romans knew the existence of China but they didn't know that there existed a large and powerful empire there, only that "silk came from there".

HackneyedScribe April 29th, 2012 07:43 PM

Ban Chao sent Gan Ying as an ambassador to Rome. He probably would have reached it if the Parthians didn't lie to him about the distance. Nevertheless, he did give a brief description about Roman government that's 100 years out of date.

Their kings are not permanent. They select and appoint the most worthy man. If there are unexpected calamities in the kingdom, such as frequent extraordinary winds or rains, he is unceremoniously rejected and replaced. The one who has been dismissed quietly accepts his demotion, and is not angry. The people of this country are all tall and honest. They resemble the people of the Middle Kingdom and that is why this kingdom is called Great Qin [Qin being the previous dynasty to the Han]. This country produces plenty of gold, silver, and rare and precious [things] they have luminous jade, 'bright moon pearls,' Haiji rhinoceroses, coral, yellow amber, opaque glass, whitish chalcedony, red cinnabar, green gemstones, goldthread embroideries, rugs woven with gold thread, delicate polychrome silks painted with gold, and asbestos cloth. They also have a fine cloth which some people say is made from the down of 'water sheep,' but which is made, in fact, from the cocoons of wild silkworms. They blend all sorts of fragrances, and by boiling the juice, make a compound perfume. [They have] all the precious and rare things that come from the various foreign kingdoms. They make gold and silver coins. Ten silver coins are worth one gold coin. They trade with Anxi [Parthia] and Tianzhu [Northwest India] by sea. The profit margin is ten to one. . . . The king of this country always wanted to send envoys to Han, but Anxi [Parthia], wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

Quote:

Well, the "successor states" of both empires actually meet at the early middle ages: the Abbasids fought the Tangs in 751 AD. The Abbasids won.
The Abbasids were hardly a Roman successor state. The Roman empire still survived in the form of the Byzantine empire. They were not on friendly terms with the Abbasids. Minus the Battle of Talas that you mentioned, the Abbasids and Tang were from ambivalent to friendly. Even for the Battle of Talas, the conflict was due to misinformation in which Gao Xianzhi thought the Abbasids were planning to attack him, and so made a preemptive strike. There was no other reason for him to attack a much larger army that never bore him a bit of grief. The Abbasids didn't seem to take much offense at this, as they left the Tang well enough alone despite Gao's defeat. Gao on the other hand smarted at the defeat and was gathering an army from China proper for round 2, which was prevented by the An Lushan rebellion. By the chaos of the An LuShan rebellion, the Tang were employing Abbasid mercenaries.

Caracalla April 30th, 2012 02:31 AM

Never of heard of the Battle of Sogdiana?

An expedition of Han soldiers encountered a small contingent of Roman legionaries and defeated them in 36 BC. The Romans ar thought to be survivors from Crassus's army that were defeated by the Parthians.

There was a documentary - "Lost Roman City in China (or something like that) - about a Chinese town that still, to this day, holds on to their Roman ancestery. The town is supposed to be where the Chinese let the legionaries live out their lives.

TheBlessedTraitor April 30th, 2012 05:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe (Post 1021254)
Ban Chao sent Gan Ying as an ambassador to Rome. He probably would have reached it if the Parthians didn't lie to him about the distance. Nevertheless, he did give a brief description about Roman government that's 100 years out of date.

Their kings are not permanent. They select and appoint the most worthy man. If there are unexpected calamities in the kingdom, such as frequent extraordinary winds or rains, he is unceremoniously rejected and replaced. The one who has been dismissed quietly accepts his demotion, and is not angry. The people of this country are all tall and honest. They resemble the people of the Middle Kingdom and that is why this kingdom is called Great Qin [Qin being the previous dynasty to the Han]. This country produces plenty of gold, silver, and rare and precious [things] they have luminous jade, 'bright moon pearls,' Haiji rhinoceroses, coral, yellow amber, opaque glass, whitish chalcedony, red cinnabar, green gemstones, goldthread embroideries, rugs woven with gold thread, delicate polychrome silks painted with gold, and asbestos cloth. They also have a fine cloth which some people say is made from the down of 'water sheep,' but which is made, in fact, from the cocoons of wild silkworms. They blend all sorts of fragrances, and by boiling the juice, make a compound perfume. [They have] all the precious and rare things that come from the various foreign kingdoms. They make gold and silver coins. Ten silver coins are worth one gold coin. They trade with Anxi [Parthia] and Tianzhu [Northwest India] by sea. The profit margin is ten to one. . . . The king of this country always wanted to send envoys to Han, but Anxi [Parthia], wishing to control the trade in multi-coloured Chinese silks, blocked the route to prevent [the Romans] getting through [to China].

This is absolutely fascinating. is there more to this?

Clemmie April 30th, 2012 05:42 AM


HackneyedScribe April 30th, 2012 08:39 AM

Quote:

Never of heard of the Battle of Sogdiana?

An expedition of Han soldiers encountered a small contingent of Roman legionaries and defeated them in 36 BC. The Romans ar thought to be survivors from Crassus's army that were defeated by the Parthians.
The evidence based on this is pretty flimsy. They say that they are legions because it was recorded that the enemy used "fish scale formation". People interpret that as the testudo. Why they interpreted as so I cannot say, considering that the fish scale formation was being recorded well before this time period.

Quote:

This is absolutely fascinating. is there more to this?
Unfortunately that's most of it. Here is the rest:

The Kingdom of Da Qin (the Roman Empire) is also called Lijian. As it is found to the west of the sea, it is also called the Kingdom of Haixi ("West of the Sea"). The territory extends for several thousands of li. It has more than four hundred walled towns. There are several tens of smaller dependent kingdoms. The walls of the towns are made of stone. They have established postal relays at intervals, which are all plastered and whitewashed. There are pines and cypresses, as well as trees and plants of all kinds.

Guaporense April 30th, 2012 12:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HackneyedScribe (Post 1021254)
The Abbasids were hardly a Roman successor state. The Roman empire still survived in the form of the Byzantine empire. They were not on friendly terms with the Abbasids.

Well, I used "" for this reason. The Roman Empire enveloped nearly the whole Western Eurasia. The Abbasids were part of Western Eurasia.

All western eurasian states formed after the fall of rome can be understood as sucessors of Rome in this sense:

western eurasia 200 ad
http://www.euratlas.net/history/europe/200/200.jpg

western eurasia 700 ad
http://www.euratlas.net/history/europe/700/700.jpg

If the Tang were a successor state of the Han, therefore the Abbasids were one of the several successors of Rome.

Quote:

Minus the Battle of Talas that you mentioned, the Abbasids and Tang were from ambivalent to friendly. Even for the Battle of Talas, the conflict was due to misinformation in which Gao Xianzhi thought the Abbasids were planning to attack him, and so made a preemptive strike. There was no other reason for him to attack a much larger army that never bore him a bit of grief. The Abbasids didn't seem to take much offense at this, as they left the Tang well enough alone despite Gao's defeat. Gao on the other hand smarted at the defeat and was gathering an army from China proper for round 2, which was prevented by the An Lushan rebellion. By the chaos of the An LuShan rebellion, the Tang were employing Abbasid mercenaries.
Okay. I agree that the Tang was overall militarily stronger than the Abbasids.

Guaporense April 30th, 2012 12:50 PM

On that urban myth:

Quote:

Originally Posted by wikipedia
In the 1950s, Homer H. Dubs, a professor of Chinese history at the University of Oxford, was the first to make a connection between Liqian and ancient Rome. He suggested the inhabitants were descendants from a lost Roman army that had been commanded by Marcus Licinius Crassus. This army may have wandered eastward, becoming mercenaries who took part in the Battle of Zhizhi between the Chinese and the Huns in 36 B.C.[4]

Several investigations have been conducted since.[3] Rob Gifford commented on the theory and described it as one of many "rural myths."[5] One DNA study found that "a Roman mercenary origin could not be accepted as true according to paternal genetic variation, and the current Liqian population is more likely to be a subgroup of the Chinese majority Han."[6] Genetic testing in 2010 revealed that 56% of the DNA of some Zhelaizhai residents was Caucasian in origin but the testing did not determine whether they were descended from Romans, Tocharians or Iranian peoples.[7] People with Caucasian-like traits existed in central Asia centuries before the Romans; Tarim mummies and some south Siberian populations included light-haired individuals.[8] To date, no artifacts which might confirm a Roman presence, such as coins or weaponry, have been discovered in Zhelaizhai.[7]


HackneyedScribe April 30th, 2012 01:22 PM

Quote:

Well, I used "" for this reason. The Roman Empire enveloped nearly the whole Western Eurasia. The Abbasids were part of Western Eurasia.

All western eurasian states formed after the fall of rome can be understood as sucessors of Rome in this sense:

western eurasia 200 ad
This sounds like giving yourself an extra helping. The Han dynasty owned most of Mongolia for a time, which eventually conquered all the way to Eastern Europe, so I suppose everything East of that was a Han successor state according to your logic. In fact this is even firmer to your logic, due to the following reason: The Abbasids came from the Islamic Caliphates. These did not secede from the Roman empire, they took power from the Sassanids and were originally a confederation of Arab peoples. They were not a part of Rome, so whatever empire they created was not a successor state of Rome, on the basis of the definition of a successor state. Just because Rome owned a portion of Arabia("western-eurasia" or no) does not mean they owned all of it. Far from it, as it was in the region they did not rule over that provided the catalyst for the rise of Islamic Caliphates. Being a neighbor does not equate to being an originator. Nor does conquering a portion of what was previously Roman territory make you a Roman successor state. The Abbasids were as much a successor state to Rome as the Mauryan empire was a successor state to the Macedonian empire. I trust you (or anyone with enough knowledge of history) have enough intelligence to know the obvious of what makes the Seleucids and Ptolemaics successor states to Alexander's empire, whereas the Mauryan empire was not.

On the other hand one of the eventual splintered factions of the Han dynasty took power to become the Tang dynasty. This doesn't make them a successor state, as that would be using our modern terminology to describe a different culture with a different concept of the world. To them they were the succeeding dynasty. However, the Tang was certainly closer to the definition of being a "successor state" to the Han than the Abbasids were to the Romans.

Quote:

If the Tang were a successor state of the Han, therefore the Abbasids were one of the several successors of Rome.
The Tang was a dynasty, as was the Han. It inherited the ruling bureaucracy, although with additional improvements. We call it the Tang because the ruling family changed, and in the Roman empire this type of dynastic change happens all the more often. The Tang and Han were different like how the Flavian dynasty was different from the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

Quote:

Okay. I agree that the Tang was overall militarily stronger than the Abbasids.
That has nothing to do with what I said. I was stating the relationship between the Abbasids versus the Romans, in which the relationship is much worse than its relationship between the Tang, despite your claim that the Abbasids was a Roman sucessor state. You are comparing a dynasty with an empire. Dynasty is a different concept from empire.

Successor state definition: a new smaller country formed after a larger country has been divided up

So what did the Islamic Caliphates succeed from? The Sassanids at best, not the Roman empire. In truth they came from an Arab Confederacy formed in Medina, which was not a part of Rome. These toppled the Sassanids(who too were not part of Rome), took over, and FOUGHT with Romans (now under the term of Byzantines). So no, they were hardly Roman successor states. Your map does not show either the Sassanids or Medina as under the rule of the Roman empire. Just because they eventually conquered portions of the Roman empire mean squat, as they conquered other places too. By your logic the Abbasids would have quite a few successor states then.


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