Greek Influences on China's First Empire ?

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,379
Australia
You arrive at those results because you limit the oldest Eastern civilization to the Shang dynasty. In fact, the Hongshan culture precedes the Shang, the Egyptians, and Mesopotamians by a wide margin. The Hongshan culture was in modern day Northeastern China / Manchuria, and is dated back to 4700 BC. The central Asian steppes provides a direct route from Manchuria to Mesopotamia. This has the possibility of being the oldest civilization in the world.



The Hongshan have been building pyramids, underground tunnels, jade dragons, and altars much before the first Egyptian pharoh got mummified.

Ancient Hongshan Culture: Creators Of A Pyramid And Remarkable Artifacts That Are Still Shrouded In Mystery | Ancient Pages

It is possible that Mesopotamian civilization developed independently of the Eastern civilization, but you should always keep in mind the Eastern civilization was the oldest of them all.

Initially, very interesting article in that link ..... until I got to the image of the 'pyramid' ... seriously ? :zany:
 

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,379
Australia
You must have a different definition of "civilization" than most people, then. I would argue that the Hongshan culture of northeastern China, while producing some very impressive works of art and crafts considering the time period (i.e. the Neolithic, or New Stone Age), was not a civilization. Despite the existence of tombs and temples, this was an almost purely agrarian culture ruled by petty chiefdoms, apparently, and not a highly stratified urban society like we see in China by the Shang period. Although the medieval/early modern Incas of Peru didn't have writing (at least not until the conquering Spanish showed up), they at least had "Quipu" knots for recording things numerically. The builders of Teotihuacan in ancient Mexico didn't even have that (or the hieroglyphic writing of the later Mayas) and yet they clearly had huge urban centers with temple complexes that still stand to this day. We can't say the same for the Hongshan culture of China, now can we? There are a lot of components and base requirements for a "civilization" that the Hongshan culture simply does not meet.

Never mind that, it's even more absurd to argue that the Hongshan culture somehow influenced the course of events as far west as Mesopotamia, the Levant, or Egypt during either the 5th or 4th millenniums BC. There is literally no proof of it. Honestly, it would be astonishing if there was proof of such far-flung contacts in any significant form before the establishment of the Silk Road by China's Emperor Wu of Han opening contacts with Central Asia in the 2nd century BC.

...
Yes, my initial response was that this was a confusion about 'culture' and 'civilization' .

The Hongshun is termed, very clearly a culture' .

But then, comparing the artifacts, they are very advanced, the things listed that they did, when they did. compared to ancient Egypt seemed convincing .... until I saw the picture of what they are claiming as a 'pyramid' ;




Thats about as much of a pyramid as the Bosnian one ... from the looks of the outside ... I'd love to see the view from the other side :D ..... what's inside it ?

( Wiki article stating 'pyramids' shows "citation needed" . )
 
Last edited:
Jan 2017
132
Virginia, USA
The Greeks received a lot of their scientific knowledge from the Phoenician traders, who were in contact with Egypt and Sumer (e.g., the Pythogorous theorem was discovered in Mesopotamia a thousand years before he was born).
While this is true to a large extent, especially for Archaic Greece (c. 800-480 BC), it is simply not true for Classical Greece (480-336 BC), which exceeded just about any civilization in its vicinity when it came to science, technology, philosophy, literature, etc. Moreover, I was talking about Mycenaean Greece (1600-1100 BC), which you don't seem to understand as your post reveals. I will grant you Egypt and Sumer. However, the Phoenician civilization as we know it, although allegedly starting circa 2500 BC, didn't fully develop, expand, and thrive in the Levant and wider Mediterranean until after the 11th century BC, during the Bronze Age collapse and Greek Dark Age (1100-800 BC). More on that below...

And trade doesn't prove civilization - barbaric tribes in Europe traded with the more civilized empires for centuries. E.g., the Vikings and the Arabs.
This is completely absurd. Do you not know anything about Mycenaean Greece? Seriously, this is an honest question. Forget archaeology for a moment, I'm astonished, quite frankly, that someone could be completely ignorant about Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, the seminal pieces of literature of the Western world, which, by the way, are set in Mycenaean Greece among other places.

I agree that Greece wasn't all that civilized in 800 B.C., when as you say, they barely discovered writing. I was trying to be generous. The Greeks were civilized thousands of years after the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Indians, Phoenicians, and possibly the Chinese.
No. Barely rediscovered writing, not discovered it in the first place. The main problem I see here is that you have failed miserably to understand that there was a Greek civilization before the Greek Dark Age. It was called Mycenaean Greece, if that wasn't emphatically clear to you. And they had their own system of writing, Linear B, based on Minoan Linear A. This was the first form of writing to convey the Greek language, centuries before the creation of the Greek alphabet based on the Phoenician alphabet. Guess when the Phoenician alphabet was created? It is no older than 1050 BC, around the time Mycenaean Greece was collapsing and coming to an end thanks to the wider Late Bronze Age Collapse. Ergo the Greeks already had a civilization and written culture that predated the Phoenician creation of their alphabet.

And no, the Greeks were not civilized "thousands of years" after the Chinese. The Mycenaean Greeks built their civilization as early as 1600 BC, when the Shang Dynasty formed in China. Not much is known about the Phoenicians before the Late Bronze Age, when Mycenaean civilization was already collapsing. And as far as India is concerned, they did have the Harappan Indus Valley Civilization, but that existed more than a thousand years before the arrival of Indo-Europeans and the creation of the classical Hindu civilization. There aren't even solid pieces of evidence for writing or surviving texts from India that predate the 4th century BC, aside from what is implied in certain texts (as the Sanskrit Vedas are perhaps considerably older, but there's no way to confirm that beyond reconstructing oral history). As far as I'm concerned, only the Egyptians and Mesopotamians on your list get to say they predated the Mycenaean Greeks. At most the Shang Dynasty Chinese were contemporaries with the Greeks and obviously neither of these civilizations knew about the existence of the other.

For that matter, as I've stated before, the ancient Chinese simply weren't even aware that civilizations existed further west than the Tarim Basin until the reign of Emperor Wu of Han in the late 2nd century BC. Claims of influence one way or the other before that point is just pure speculation, and that includes the supposed Hellenistic Greek influence on the Terracotta Army of Qin Shihuangdi in the 3rd century BC. There's no evidence the Chinese had any significant contacts with the Greco-Bactrian kingdom of Central Asia at that time. The Chinese arrived in the Ferghana Valley a century later at the earliest and that is when we can say without a doubt they came into contact with the last remaining cultural/ethnic Greeks of the region (the peoples of "Daxia" 大夏 and "Dayuan" 大宛 in Chinese texts), still clinging to life there after the Yuezhi invasion.

And this is probably due to the fact that there were no fertile river valleys in Greece. Unlike the Nile, Tigris/Euphrates, Indus, Yangzte, etc which could sustain large populations.
Well, there's that. The Greek development of independent city-states was more or less a consequence of their rugged topography and being surrounded by seas. This model of the polis was then exported throughout the Mediterranean when the Greeks colonized areas as far afield as ancient France and Spain. This was achieved during the Archaic period, centuries before Alexander the Great was born. Yet long before the Archaic period, the Mycenaean Greeks actually traveled and traded goods as far as France, Spain, Italy, and the western Mediterranean islands during the Bronze Age. Although you clearly have no appreciation for that amazing fact (and show nothing but contempt for it, strangely), what it demonstrates is a huge connective web of international trade relations extending from Greece to Western Europe. This was not just indirect, passive trade with one group exchanging items to the next in a chain of different hands like we see in the later Silk Road. This involved the trekking of Mycenaean traders across the entire Mediterranean. Apparently that's not a big deal to you, but it just so happens to be a big deal to archaeologists.
 
Last edited:
Nov 2017
137
US
until I saw the picture of what they are claiming as a 'pyramid' ;
It's a 6000 year old pyramid, and it was an earthen pyramid on top of that. So you can expect there to be vegetation. What's importnat is that they were built as tombs and contain artifacts. There are other Hongshan pyramids that are more "convincing".



http://en.people.cn/200107/06/eng20010706_74356.html

Although the medieval/early modern Incas of Peru didn't have writing (at least not until the conquering Spanish showed up), they at least had "Quipu" knots for recording things numerically. The builders of Teotihuacan in ancient Mexico didn't even have that (or the hieroglyphic writing of the later Mayas) and yet they clearly had huge urban centers with temple complexes that still stand to this day.
Do some more reasearch on the Hongshan, and you will learn that they did indeed have writing. The characters for "rice" and "astrology" which are basically same as the equivalent characters in the well known hanzi writing system were found in Hongshan artifacts

http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Afterlife-Mysteries/Hongshan-Pyramid-Discovered-in-China.html

"At the top of the pyramid, the archeologists found seven tombs and the ruins of an altar. Also found were many fragments of broken pottery carved with the Chinese character mi (rice). They also discovered a bone flute, a stone ring, and a life-sized sculpture of a goddess."
 
Last edited:
Jan 2017
132
Virginia, USA
Do some more reasearch on the Hongshan, and you will learn that they did indeed have writing. The characters for "rice" and "astrology" which are basically same as the equivalent characters in the well known hanzi writing system were found in Hongshan artifacts

Hongshan Pyramid Discovered in China

"At the top of the pyramid, the archeologists found seven tombs and the ruins of an altar. Also found were many fragments of broken pottery carved with the Chinese character mi (rice). They also discovered a bone flute, a stone ring, and a life-sized sculpture of a goddess."
That's pretty cool, actually, but let us not get carried away here. This is proto-writing at best and not a full corpus of a complete writing system.

There is still no evidence for a full system of writing in China until the Bronze Age Oracle Bone Script of the late Shang Dynasty, circa 1300-1200 BC, which is considerably later than the Neolithic Honghshan culture. I'm sure the people of the Hongshan culture had logographic symbols for a number of other things, but these are more comparable to the prehistoric Jiahu symbols (of Neolithic-era Henan province, China). They convey very limited ideas and not full expressions or statements like in a formal system of writing. It's fascinating, of course, but this is not a full written language.

We must credit the Shang-era Chinese for inventing that and obviously without any outside help. Not even the Greeks could make that claim, since their Mycenaean-era Linear B writing was based on the Minoan Linear A from Crete and created around 1450 BC and the later Greek alphabet was based on the Phoenician alphabet (which in turn came from the Proto-Sinaitic alphabet, itself rooted in Egyptian hieroglyphs). Even the Old Italic scripts of the Etruscan and Latin alphabets (of the ancient Romans) were based on the Greek alphabet and date to about 800-700 BC. Hence the Chinese came up with one of the world's truly unique writing systems (based on preexisting native proto-writing), but let's not be confused about when that occurred, please, not unless you have some groundbreaking new archaeological evidence for a full written language in China predating the Shang.

Just for fun, other civilizations that came up with writing systems entirely on their own: Egyptian hieroglyphs, created around 3200 BC, the Cuneiform Script of the Sumerians in ancient Mesopotamia, invented around 3100-3000 BC (again, based on native proto-writing), and the earliest Mesoamerican writing systems created by the Olmec people (i.e. Cascajal block) around 900 BC, the Zapotec people around 500 BC, and the Epi-Olmec people who created the Isthmian script around 500 BC, which may have served as the basis for the later Maya script of ancient Mexico and Guatemala established around 200 BC.

It's a 6000 year old pyramid, and it was an earthen pyramid on top of that. So you can expect there to be vegetation. What's importnat is that they were built as tombs and contain artifacts. There are other Hongshan pyramids that are more "convincing".



http://en.people.cn/200107/06/eng20010706_74356.html
That's neat and everything, and interesting how these burial mounds/pyramids were built by the later Qin and Han emperors for their own tombs, but it's not proof of a civilization. Again, the builders of Teotihuacan in Mexico built huge pyramids, the stone edifices still surviving to this day, but they didn't just build these pyramid tombs/temples. They also built a giant city around them and it was inhabited by tens of thousands of people in a socially diverse, stratified society. One cannot say the same about the Hongshan culture, I'm afraid. They did not build significant towns and cities and, as far as I know, they did not have a highly stratified society.
 
Last edited:

specul8

Ad Honorem
Oct 2016
3,379
Australia
It's a 6000 year old pyramid, and it was an earthen pyramid on top of that. So you can expect there to be vegetation

What's importnat is that they were built as tombs and contain artifacts. There are other Hongshan pyramids that are more "convincing".
Nope, I am calling sasquatch on that one . It is NOT a 6000 year old pyramid .

Thats a 5000 yo pyramid .

Do some more reasearch on the Hongshan, and you will learn that they did indeed have writing. The characters for "rice" and "astrology" which are basically same as the equivalent characters in the well known hanzi writing system were found in Hongshan artifacts

Hongshan Pyramid Discovered in China

"At the top of the pyramid, the archeologists found seven tombs and the ruins of an altar. Also found were many fragments of broken pottery carved with the Chinese character mi (rice). They also discovered a bone flute, a stone ring, and a life-sized sculpture of a goddess."
.
I am not denying their culture. Read what I wrote more carefully .
 
Last edited:
Feb 2011
1,018
It's a 6000 year old pyramid, and it was an earthen pyramid on top of that. So you can expect there to be vegetation. What's importnat is that they were built as tombs and contain artifacts. There are other Hongshan pyramids that are more "convincing".



Pyramid Built 5000 years ago Found in Inner Mongolia
The first is a picture of the Maoling Mausoleum, the second is a description of a three story tall step pyramid, which is hardly monumental.

Do some more reasearch on the Hongshan, and you will learn that they did indeed have writing. The characters for "rice" and "astrology" which are basically same as the equivalent characters in the well known hanzi writing system were found in Hongshan artifacts
The only people who claim Hongshan Neolithic symbols are writing, are people who don't know what writing is. There are plenty of Neolithic symbols in China, but no evidence of writing until the late Shang. Neolithic symbols are actually very common around the world. Here's a set from Europe from over 7,000 years ago: