#History #Rome #China

Did Ancient Rome Meet China? - What did they know?





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Published on Nov 1, 2019

In this educational documentary we explore Roman and Chinese relations. Did ancient Rome meet China? What did they know? To answer these questions we provide a recap of east-west trade which resulted in the flourishing of the silk road and encouraged further transfer of goods and information across the world.

The history documentary starts by briefly recapping the Persian Empire and its role in trade between the east and the west. Later the conquests of Alexander the Great further accelerated this mixing. In his wake, the successor kingdoms would continue the trend. This is epitomized by the Greco-Bactrian kingdom which reportedly stretched out into central Asia, making contact with China for the first time.

When the Han dynasty of ancient China rose to power, they ended up expanding out into the Tarim Basin of central asia. From here they would send multiple delegations to explore the west. Most of their missions dealt with the Persian Empire but a few missions were sent to reach distant Da Qin or the Roman Empire. Over the years we hear of numerous delegations being exchanged between ancient Rome and China but it is never clear whether these are official diplomatic missions or simply private trade missions. Later the Han would fall into decline while the Roman Empire would be reduced to the far smaller Byzantine Empire. Trade would still continue but the window for ancient Rome and China to interact officially closed.

We then conclude the video by asking to what extent did Rome and China know each other. We do so by referring to primary source material from Romans like Pliny the Elder or Chinese sources like Yu Huan.

I hope you enjoyed! Stay tuned for more and be sure to check out this video from Voices of the Past on the Chinese account of ancient Rome: https://youtu.be/4XdPodNwSGU

"Weilue" by Yu Huan (translation https://depts.washington.edu/silkroad...)
"Book of the Later Han" by Fan Ye
"The Natural History, Chapter 20 - The Seres" by Pliny the Elder
"Who Were Pliny's Blue-Eyed Chinese?" by Samuel Lieberman
"Rome's Trade with the East" by Raoul MacLaughlin
"The Roman Empire and the Silk Routes" by Raoul MacLaughlin
"Rome and China: Comparative Perspectives on Ancient World Empires" by Walter Scheidel
"The Greeks in Bactria and India" by William Woodthorpe Tarn
"Late Antique Conceptions of Late Antiquity" by Hervé Inglebert
"The Mystery of Fu-lin" by Friedrich Hirth



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