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Rome and Han China Tracy Rosselle, M.A.T. Newsome High School, Lithia, FL


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Title: Rome and Han China Tracy Rosselle, M.A.T. Newsome High School, Lithia, FL

Rome and Han ChinaTracy Rosselle, M.A.T.Newsome
High School, Lithia, FL
  • An Age of Empires 753 BCE 600 CE

A new kind of empire
  • The Roman Empire included all the lands around
    the Mediterranean and stretched from continental
    Europe to the Middle East.
  • Its contemporary (though arising somewhat later
    and ending sooner), the Han Empire, spanned from
    the Pacific Ocean to the oases of Central Asia.
  • They were the largest empires the world had yet
    seen, in both land and population. They were
  • centralized to a greater degree than earlier
  • more culturally influential on the land and
    peoples they dominated.
  • remarkably stable and long-lasting.

Eurasia, 116 CE
The Roman Empire and Han China were separated by
thousands of miles, and neither influenced the
other. But they were linked by a far-flung
international trading network, so they were
vaguely aware of each others existence.
Romes Mediterranean Empire
  • Italys climate (long growing seasons, wide
    variety of crops) and geography (numerous
    navigable rivers, well forested and rich in iron
    and other metals) were conducive to sustaining a
    large population.
  • Rome lay at the midpoint of the peninsula, and
    the peninsula was a crossroads in the
  • Vast majority of early Romans were
    self-sufficient independent farmers owning small
    plots of land small number of families able to
    acquire large tracts of land ? heads of these
    wealthy families were members of the Senate a
    Council of Elders dominating Roman politics.

The Roman Republic
  • According to tradition seven kings of Rome
    between 753 and 507 BCE when senatorial class
    vowing never again to be ruled by a harsh tyrant
    deposed the king and instituted a res publica,
    a public possession or republic.
  • republic a form of government in which power
    rests with citizens who have the right to vote
    for their leaders. (The United States today is a
    republican form of democracy.)
  • The Roman Republic (507-31 BCE) unlike the
    direct democracy of the Greeks, sovereign power
    rested in several assemblies all male citizens
    eligible to attend, but votes of wealthy classes
    counted more than votes of the poor citizens.
  • Real center of power ? Roman Senate technically
    an advisory council, but increasingly made
    policy, governed self-perpetuating body whose
    members served for life and nominated their sons
    for public offices.

Conflict of the Orders
  • Inequalities in Roman society periodically led to
    unrest and conflict between the elite (wealthy
    landowners called patricians) and the majority of
    the population (common farmers, artisans and
    merchants called plebeians).
  • Plebeian gains
  • Twelve Tables (c. 450 BCE) laws carved on 12
    tablets, hung in the Forum (laws now written,
    published ? patrician officials now cant
    interpret law to suit themselves) became basis
    of later Roman law.
  • tribunes new officials drawn from and elected
    by the lower classes had power to veto, or
    block, actions of the Assembly or patrician

The class-conscious Roman family
  • Roman society extremely conscious of status
    (determined by achievements of ancestors, living
    members of family).
  • The Roman family, made of several generations
    plus domestic slaves, was basic unit of society.
  • Absolute authority in family exercised by
    paterfamilias the oldest living male ? could
    sell children into slavery or have them killed
    but this began to change by second century CE.

Statue of a Roman carrying busts of his ancestors
(c. first century BCE).
Institutionalized inequality
  • In Rome, inequality was accepted and turned into
    a system of mutual benefits and obligations.
  • patron/client relationship Senator to middle
    class, middle class to poor
  • Men of wealth and influence might have dozens,
    hundreds of clients (lower status men he provided
    guidance, protection, money in return for
    loyalty in politics and war, work on land and
    even money for daughters dowry).
  • Large retinues of clients brought prestige
    clients would await their patrons in morning,
    accompany them to Forum for the days business.

The Roman Forum
Built on the site of an old cemetery, the Roman
Forum was the central area around which ancient
Rome developed. It contained many buildings,
including temples and basilicas. People would
come to conduct commerce, and political leaders
carried out public affairs and administrated
matters of justice.
Institutionalized inequalityWomen in Roman
  • Girls in some upper-class families received a
    primary education but were pushed into marriage
    (arranged by fathers) commonly by the time they
    were 14 (12 was the legal minimum).
  • Nearly everything we know of Roman women pertains
    to the upper classes.
  • In early times, women never ceased to be a child
    in eyes of the law ? needed male guardian
  • Over time, gained greater personal protections
    and freedoms ? could own, inherit and dispose of
    property unlike Greek women, werent segregated
    from husbands but rather appreciated at the
    center of the household, could attend races, the
    theater, events in the amphitheater.

Institutionalized inequalitySlavery
  • Common throughout the ancient world, but Romans
    relied on slave labor more than any other people
    ? peaked at perhaps 1/3 of population by the last
    two centuries of the Republic as empire expanded
    through warfare (prisoners of war became slaves).
  • Large gangs of slaves worked huge agricultural
    tracts under pitiful conditions
  • branded, beaten, inadequately fed, worked in
    chains and housed at night in underground
  • periodic slave revolts took up to 17,000 men and
    several years to suppress ? most famous led by
    Thracian gladiator Spartacus, who managed to
    defeat several Roman armies with 70,000
    rebellious slaves before he was finally captured
    and killed (6,000 of his followers executed by

Institutionalized inequalitySlavery (cont.)
  • Greek slaves were in much demand as tutors,
    musicians, doctors, artists.
  • Many slaves of all nationalities used as menial
    household workers (cooks, valets, gardeners,
  • Businessmen would employ slaves as shop
    assistants and artisans.
  • Being attended to by many slaves became badge of
    prestige in Roman society.

A vaunted military
  • Unlike Greeks, the Romans granted the political,
    legal and economic privileges of Roman
    citizenship to conquered populations ? this
    relative leniency helped establish long-lasting
  • Demanded soldiers from its Italian subjects ?
    manpower advantage a key to its military success
    (could tolerate high casualties).
  • Two consuls chosen by Assembly for one-year terms
    were chief executives of the government and
    commanders-in-chief of the army (each could veto
    the other) ? structure of the state thus
    encouraged war because consuls had limited time
    to gain military glory.

Expansion through force
  • Between 264 and 146 BCE fought and won three wars
    with Carthage (Punic Wars) for mastery of western

The Carthaginian general Hannibal led a brilliant
rear-flank invasion (using elephants!) crossing
the Alps but Rome eventually prevailed in the
Second Punic War.
Expansion through force (cont.)
  • First territorial acquisition in Europes
    heartland between 59 and 51 BCE ? conquest of the
    Celtic peoples of Gaul (modern France) by Romes
    most brilliant general, Julius Caesar.
  • As he gained popularity, Caesars rivals urged
    him to disband his legions and return home.
  • Instead, he and his men defied the Senate,
    crossed the Rubicon River (the southern limit of
    his command) and headed for Rome where he would
    assume dictatorial power in a military coup.

The failure of the Republic
  • Romes success in creating a vast empire
    unleashed forces that eventually destroyed its
    republican system of government. Caesar became
    dictator in 46 BCE and dictator for life in 44
    BCE. Heres the bigger picture of how it
  • In the third and second centuries BCE, while
    Italian peasant farmers were away from home
    serving in the military, it was easy for
    investors to take possession of their farms
    through deception or intimidation.
  • Growing empires wealth became concentrated in
    hands of upper classes with broad estates (which
    replaced the small, self-sufficient farms run by
    peasant owners now part of Roman legions units
    of 6,000 soldiers).

The failure of the Republic (cont.)
  • Owners of large estates found it more profitable
    to graze herds and make wine instead of grow the
    staple crop of wheat ? dependence on grain
    imports thus rose.
  • Cheap slave labor (from increasing numbers of war
    prisoners) ? peasants whod lost farms couldnt
    find work in countryside or in growing cities
    like Rome, where the idle poor were increasingly
    prone to riot.
  • Soon a shortage of men who owned the minimum
    amount of property required for military service
    ? until a leader at the end of the second century
    BCE promised farms upon military retirement to
    poor, propertyless men he now accepted into the
    Roman legions.
  • Over time, then, armies became more loyal to the
    leaders of the armies than the state itself ?
    series of bloody civil wars eventually developed
    between military factions.

The Death of Julius Caesar by Vincenzo Camuccini
J.C.s legacy
New Julian calendar based on solar year instead
of moon cycles (extra day every four years, and
July named for him).
Julius Caesars ascent to power was part of this
political and military infighting, and 44 BCE
the year marking the start of his perpetual
dictatorship is seen by some as the end of the
Roman Republic. The dictator for life gig
didnt last long He was assassinated by members
of the Senate (including his friend Marcus Brutus
Et tu, Brute? on March 15 of that same year.
The end of republic but not empire
  • Caesars grandnephew and adopted son, Octavian
    (63 BCE 14 CE), eliminated all rivals by 31
  • A military dictator in fact, Octavian claimed to
    be princeps, first among equals in a restored
    Republic ? period following Roman Republic thus
    the Roman Principate.
  • Octavian best known to us as Augustus, one of his
    honorary titles that means exalted one.

The reign of Augustus began a 207-year period of
peace and prosperity known as the Pax Romana
Roman peace.
Augustus and his urban empire
  • Augustus ruthless, patient, frugal, religious
    and family-oriented (banished his only child,
    Julia, from Rome for adultery) aligned himself
    with the equites (EH-kwee-tays), the class of
    well-to-do Italian merchants and landowners
    second only to senatorial class.
  • This group became backbone of the civil service
    system Augustus instituted workers paid to
    manage affairs of government (grain supply, tax
    collection, postal system) ? key to stability and
    smooth functioning of expansive empire.
  • The Roman Empire of the first three centuries CE
    was urban 80 of its 50-60 million people
    still lived in countryside but empire
    administered through network of towns and cities
    (Romes population was perhaps 1 million some
    other cities, like Alexandria and Carthage, had
    several hundred thousand people most had far
    less than that).

All roads lead to Rome
  • A complex network of roads, originally built by
    the legions for military purposes, linked the
    empires cities and helped communication and
  • Roads also helped spread Roman culture (Latin
    language, way of life ? Greco-Roman tradition the
    foundation of Western civilization.
  • Ultimately, though, the roads also eased the way
    for barbarian invasions!

A surviving Roman road in Britain. Main roads
were up to 25 feet wide (for two-way traffic),
while more remote roads were 6-10 feet wide.
Rich and poor
  • The upper classes lived in elegant villas with an
    atrium, interior gardens, a well-stocked kitchen,
    floors with pebble mosaics, and perhaps a private
  • The poor lived in crowded slums wooden tenements
    that were dark, smelly and poorly furnished,
    prone to catching fire.

Bath, England
Public baths and the communal act of gathering to
bathe served an important social function for
many Romans from neighborhood gossip to
business transactions.
To read more about public Roman baths, go
to http//
Amusing the masses
  • Cities and towns that sprang up all over empire
    were little replicas of the capital city in
    political organization, physical layout and
  • Town council and two annually elected officials
    drawn from prosperous members of community
    maintained law and order, collected taxes.
  • These municipal aristocracies endowed their
    cities with elements of Roman urban life a forum
    (open plaza serving as a civic center),
    government buildings, temples, gardens, baths,
    theaters, amphitheaters, and games and
    entertainments of all sorts.

Gladiator games
  • To distract and control the poor masses,
    government provided free games, races, mock
    battles and gladiator contests (150 holidays a
    year by 150 CE).
  • Gladiators fought one another or with exotic wild
    animals often until death.
  • Spectacles combined bravery and cruelty, honor
    and violence.

Thumbs up or down? Roman crowds would often help
decide the life-or-death fate of fighters in the
50,000-seat Colosseum.
Pax Romana (31 BCE 180 CE)
  • Aside from some skirmishes with tribes along its
    borders, this period was a secure time when even
    some urban dwellers got rich from manufacture and
  • Glass, metalwork, delicate pottery and other fine
    manufactured products were exported throughout
    the empire (Roman armies stationed on the
    frontiers not only ensured safety and prosperity
    of border provinces but were a large market
    themselves) while other merchants imported
    luxury items from abroad, especially silk from
    China and spices from India and Arabia.
  • Grain, meat, vegetables and other bulk foodstuffs
    limited to mostly local trade because
    transportation was expensive and perishables
    spoiled quickly.

Scholars can estimate the population of an
ancient city by calculating the amount of water
available to it. Roman aqueducts channeled water
from a source, sometimes many miles away, to an
urban complex, using only the force of gravity.
  • The Romans invented concrete a mixture of sand,
    gravel and water which allowed them to create,
    among other things, vast vaulted and domed
    interior spaces.
  • Engineering expertise seen in surviving remnants
    of roads, fortification walls, aqueducts,
    buildings Some of the best engineers served in
    the army, working on construction projects during

The rise of Christianity
  • Christianity is a child of Judaism, and the two
    faiths often troubled relationship forms the
    Judeo-Christian tradition, which is cited along
    with the Greco-Roman tradition as the bedrock
    of Western culture.
  • The founder of Christianity was Jesus of Nazareth
    (c. 4 BCE 29 CE). Born into a humble Jewish
    family in northern Israel, he had a career as a
    carpenter before gathering an inner circle of
    disciples and a growing number of followers
    during a three-year ministry as a wandering
    teacher during a time when the Roman Empire
    dominated the region.
  • Scholars agree that his portrait in the Bibles
    New Testament reflects the viewpoint of his
    followers a half-century after his death.

The rise of ChristianityThe New Testament says
  • Jesus taught that obeying rabbis and observing
    customs not enough to please God ? sincerity of
    ones belief mattered more than giving money,
    wearing proper dress, following strict dietary
  • charity, compassion, forgiveness matter most.
  • reinforced his message with Sermon on the Mount
    (Blessed are the poor in spirit ), which
    contains one of several of the New Testaments
    iterations of what came to be known as the Golden
    Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do
    unto you).
  • spoke of himself as the Son of God, claimed to
    be the Messiah (the Annointed One) foretold by
    the Hebrew prophecy.
  • attracted large crowds because of his reputation
    for wisdom, power to heal the sick.
  • his teachings would redeem those who followed his

The rise of ChristianityWho was the historical
  • Scholars, however, find it difficult to assess
    the motives and teachings of the historical
    Jesus. Varying views
  • He was a teacher as described in the Gospels,
    offended by and intent on reforming contemporary
    Jewish practices.
  • He was connected to the apocalyptic fervor found
    in certain circles of Judaism ? a fiery prophet
    warning people to prepare for the end of the
  • He was a political revolutionary, advocate of the
    poor and downtrodden, committed to driving out
    the Roman occupiers (the Jewish homeland, Judea,
    had been put under direct Roman rule in 6 CE) and
    their elite Jewish collaborators.

The rise of ChristianitySeen as a threat to the
  • The charismatic Jesus eventually attracted the
    attention of Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, who
    regarded popular reformers as potential
  • They turned him over to the Roman governor,
    Pontius Pilate, who accused Jesus of blasphemy
    and treason.
  • His followers, the Apostles, carried on after his
    death and sought to spread among their fellow
    Jews his teachings and their belief that he was
    the Messiah and had been resurrected (returned
    from death to life).

Jesus was imprisoned, condemned and executed by
crucifixion, a punishment usually reserved for
common criminals. The instrument of his death
the cross is the most important symbol in the
Christian faith.
The rise of ChristianitySpreading the word
  • Key Disciples Peter (considered the first pope)
    and the authors of the Four Gospels (Matthew,
    Mark, Luke and John).
  • Paul an early persecutor turned convert, he was
    most responsible for the early spread of
    Christianity ? widened appeal by decreeing that
    Christians neednt observe Jewish diet and
    circumcision laws which made it easier to
    convert Greeks and other non-Jewish peoples.

The rise of ChristianityOvercoming early
  • Monotheistic Christians held meetings in secret,
    refused to worship Roman gods and abstained from
    public festivals honoring them, and wouldnt
    recognize the emperor as a deity ? all of which
    seen as threat to public order by Romans
    otherwise tolerant of different religions.
  • Some Roman rulers used Christians as scapegoats
    for political and economic troubles, occasionally
    launching campaigns of suppression that led to
    spontaneous mob attacks.
  • Despite this, or maybe in part because of it, the
    young Christian movement gained converts so that
    by 300 CE Christians many of them educated and
    prosperous, with jobs in the local and imperial
    governments could be found as a significant
    minority throughout the Roman Empire.

The rise of ChristianityAppealing to the
  • The widespread appeal of Christianity the good
    news of which was spread by missionaries on
    Roman roads was due to a variety of reasons.
  • embraced all people men and women, enslaved
    persons, the poor and nobles.
  • gave hope to the powerless.
  • appealed to those repelled by the extravagances
    of imperial Rome.
  • offered a personal relationship with a loving
  • promised eternal life after death.
  • __________________________________________________
  • Although it later became male dominated
    (original sin blame placed on Eve, and Paul
    wrote that women must obey men and must not
    occupy churchs highest positions of leadership),
    the early church gave women a sense of belonging
    and, within limits, influential roles within
    missionary communities.

Christianitys Growth From 1 to more than
A number of mystery cults claiming to provide
secret information about life and death, and
promising adherents a blessed afterlife, spread
throughout the eastern Mediterranean and
Greco-Roman lands during the Hellenistic and
Roman periods presumably in response to a
growing spiritual and intellectual hunger not
satisfied by traditional pagan practices.
Historical circumstances helped Christianity win
out over these rival cults.
The third-century crisis
  • Following the Pax Romana, the Roman state began
    to falter a third-century crisis hit from 235
    to 284 CE ? empire nearly destroyed by political,
    military and economic problems.
  • Twenty-plus men claimed office of emperor, most
    reigning for only a few months or years before
    being toppled by rivals or killed by their own
  • Germanic invaders took advantage of the civil
    wars and generally destabilized conditions to
    raid deep into the empire, while pirates
    disrupted trade on the Mediterranean Sea.

Troubles lead to money woes
  • Political and military difficulties stressed the
    economy ? troops loyalty needed to be purchased
    (government sought out mercenaries) and
    protective walls built, but taxes fell because of
    fighting-induced reductions in commerce.
  • Short of cash, emperors devalued the currency
    (put less precious metal in Roman coins) ?
    inflation ensued, so many people resorted to
    barter, which further curtailed commerce.
  • Because of the political and economic upheaval,
    average citizens lost their sense of patriotism,
    became indifferent to the empires fate.
  • It somehow managed to survive, however, for
    another 200 years.

A split, east and west
  • Diocletian took power in 284, bringing empire
    back from brink of destruction
  • set fixed prices for goods and froze many people
    into their jobs to ensure adequate supply of
    labor in key areas (which worked short-term but
    contributed long-term to common view that
    government was oppressive, no longer deserving of
  • divided the sprawling, difficult-to-manage empire
    into Greek-speaking East (Greece, Anatolia, Syria
    and Egypt) and Latin-speaking West (Italy, Gaul,
    Britain and Spain), taking the far wealthier East
    for himself and appointing a co-ruler for the

An edict and a major move
  • Constantine (r. 306-337) won the struggle for
    power after Diocletian resigned in 305
  • continued many of his predecessors coercive
  • issued Edict of Milan, which in 313 made
    Christianity an approved religion of the emperor
    (Theodosius would make it the empires official
    religion in 380).
  • reunited entire empire under own rule by 324.
  • moved capital from Rome to Byzantium (renamed
    Constantinople and now Istanbul), an easily
    defendable city strategically located on the
    Bosporus strait linking the Mediterranean and
    Black seas.

The Fall of the Roman EmpireWest falls, east
lives on
  • The eastern realm of the Roman Empire lived on
    for a thousand years as the Byzantine Empire, but
    the West fell in the fifth century CE
  • Short-term cause In the late fourth century,
    Mongol nomads from central Asia, the Huns (led by
    Attila), began terrorizing the region ? the
    various Germanic peoples forced to flee, pushing
    into and invading the Roman Empire (German group
    called the Franks attacked Gaul and northeastern
    part of Spain ? gave their name to France
    Scandinavian tribe called the Saxons sailed into
    English channel, raiding coastal villages and
    becoming part of English history). Visigoths
    sacked Rome itself in 410, and the last Roman
    emperor was deposed in 476.

The Fall of the Roman EmpireLong-term causes
Click on the icon below to see an interactive
illustration of the short-term Germanic invasions
  • Scholars believe there may be numerous causes
    that in the long run contributed to the fall of
    the Western Roman Empire

Social Decline in interest in public affairs.
Low confidence in empire. Disloyalty, lack of
patriotism, corruption. Large inequality
between rich and poor. Decline in population
due to disease and food shortage.
Political Office seen as
burden, not reward. Military interference in
politics. Civil war and unrest. Division of
empire. Moving of capital to Byzantium.
Economic Poor harvests. Trade
disruption. No more war plunder. Gold and
silver drain. Inflation. Crushing taxes.
Gap between rich and poor and increasingly poor
Military Threat from northern European
tribes. Low funds for defense. Problems
recruiting Roman citizens recruiting of
non-Roman mercenaries. Decline in patriotism
and loyalty among soldiers.
The legacy of the Romans
  • With the economy of the region and its urban
    centers in shambles, the Western Roman Empire had
    fragmented into a handful of kingdoms run by
    Germanic rulers by 530.
  • Romes population fell precipitously, its
    political importance disappeared.
  • But, significantly, it retained its prominence as
    the home of the Wests most important churchman.
    Local nobility competed for control of this
    position, the name of which came to be Pope, who
    held supreme power in the Latin-speaking church.
  • Language Among uneducated masses formerly under
    Roman rule, Latin quickly evolved into Romance
    dialects (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian
    and Romanian) and Latin further influenced other
    languages (more than half the words in English
    have a basis in Latin).

The legacy of the RomansLaw and a
reconstituted tradition
  • In addition to language, engineering and
    architecture, the preservation and building upon
    of the Greek legacy (hence the term Greco-Roman)
    in government, philosophy, art and literature
    Romes most lasting and widespread contribution
    was law. Some of the most important principles it
  • All persons had the right to equal treatment
    under the law.
  • A person was considered innocent until proven
  • The burden of proof rested with the accuser.
  • A person should be punished only for actions, not
  • Any law that seemed unreasonable or grossly
    unfair could be set aside.

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Not so dark, not so middle
  • The period following the fall of the Western
    Roman Empire in Europe was once commonly referred
    to as the Dark Ages (c. 500-1000 CE) and the
    Middle Ages (c. 500-1500 CE) terms that have
    fallen from favor in light of more recent
    scholarship revealing more vitality to what was
    going on in Europe between this middle period
    between the fall of the Roman Empire and the
    Renaissance, the so-called rebirth of art and
  • From the Roman point of view, the rise of the
    Germanic kingdoms was a triumph of barbarianism
    at a time when the continuing imperial heritage
    of the Romans was still being preserved in the
    Byzantine Empire to the east but in the long
    run, the West would prove to be much more dynamic
    and creative.

The origins of imperial China
  • As weve seen earlier this year, the Shang
    (1750-1027 BCE) and Zhou (1027-221 BCE) dynasties
    ruled over a relatively small region in
    northeastern China and the last 250 years or so
    of nominal Zhou rule the Warring States Period
    was characterized by clashes of small states
    with somewhat different languages and cultures.
  • In the second half of the third century BCE, the
    Qin (pronounced chin, from which we get China)
    state of the Wei (way) Valley emerged victorious
    from the wars and created Chinas first empire.
  • The Qin Empire lasted just 15 years (221-206 BCE)
    but was important for several reasons, and it set
    the stage for a new dynasty, the Han (hahn),
    which ruled China from 206 BCE to 220 CE
    beginning an imperial tradition of remarkably
    unified political and cultural heritage that
    lasted into the early 20th century.

Qin up! Its the law!
  • Qin Empire founded by Qin Shi Huangdi, who
    adopted Legalism (highly authoritarian,
    centralized rule) as his official ideology
  • opponents of regime punished, sometimes executed.
  • books burned.
  • central bureaucracy established and divided into
    three primary ministries civil authority,
    military authority, and censorate (whose
    inspectors surveyed the efficiency of officials
    throughout the system ? later standard
    administrative practice for subsequent Chinese

Qin Shi Huangdi The First Emperor of China
Qin EmpireRuthless and expansive
  • Shi Huangdi
  • unified system of weights and measures,
    standardized monetary system and the written
    forms of Chinese characters, and ordered
    construction of road network throughout the
  • eliminated potential rivals and raised tax
    revenues by dividing the estates of landed
    aristocrats among the peasants, who were now
    taxed directly by the state.
  • required members of aristocratic clans to live in
    the capital city at Xianyang so his court could
    keep an eye on their activities.
  • viewed merchants as parasites ? severely
    restricted and heavily taxed private commerce,
    and monopolized vital industries like mining,
    wine making and distribution of salt.

Qin EmpireConcerns to the north and south
  • Shi Huangdi
  • was aggressive with foreign policy ? armies
    (modernized with iron weapons) continued the
    gradual advance southward begun during the Zhou
    era, extending Chinas border to Red River in
    present-day Vietnam.
  • ordered a canal dug to support his armies in the
    south ? direct inland navigation from Yangtze
    River in central China.
  • built 44 walled district cities and ramparts
    spanning more than 3,000 miles to defend against
    nomadic incursions from the north ? the origins
    of the Great Wall of China, the massive granite
    blocks of which were put in place 1,500 years
    later by the Ming dynasty.

Qin EmpireCentralizing power alienates
  • Rivalry between the inner imperial court and
    the outer court of bureaucratic officials led
    to tensions in China for millennia, and Shi
    Huangdi was aware of the dangers of this
    factionalism ? established a class of eunuchs
    (which later became standard feature of Chinese
    imperial system) as personal attendants for
    himself and female members of the royal family,
    probably to restrict influence of male courtiers.
  • Totalitarian zeal meant to ensure a rule to be
    enjoyed for 10,000 generations of Shi Huangdis
    heirs ? but it alienated practically everyone
    Just four years after his death in 210 BCE, which
    triggered infighting among the factions formerly
    under his rule, the Qin Empire was overthrown.

Shi Huangdis terracotta army, excavated in the
More than 15,000 terracotta sculptures
including magnificently detailed soldiers, horses
and weapons have been unearthed in recent
decades from the area around Shi Huangdis tomb.
They were placed there to protect the emperor
after his death.
Advance under the Han (206 BCE 220 CE)
  • Although later rulers denounced the overly
    authoritarian Legalism practiced by the Qin and
    instead enthroned Confucianism as the new state
    orthodoxy, they still kept key tenets of Legalism
    to administer the empire and control behavior
    among subjects.
  • In 202 BCE, Liu Bang (LEE-oo bahng) outlasted his
    rivals in civil war and declared himself the
    first emperor of the Han Dynasty, which except
    for a brief interruption between 9 and 23 CE
    endured for more than 400 years.

Liu Bang, founder of the Han Empire
The Chinese People of Han
A contemporary of the Roman Empire during the Pax
Romana, the Han dynasty is so closely associated
with the advancement of Chinese civilization that
even today the Chinese sometimes refer to
themselves as the people of Han and their
language as the language of Han.
Yellow River
Yangzi River
Resources and population
  • Intensive agriculture (needed to feed
    increasingly large populations in Chinas capital
    cities) spread into the Yangzi River Valley ?
    canals were built to connect the Yangzi with the
    Yellow River to the north so southern crops could
    reach northern capital cities.
  • Main tax to fund government was percentage of a
    peasant familys annual harvest surplus grains
    also stored by government to be sold at
    reasonable prices during harvest shortages.
  • Chinese census figures 2 CE ? 12 million
    households, 60 million people (estimated to be a
    trebling of the population since the beginning of
    the Han dynasty) but 140 CE ? 10 million
    households, 49 million people vast majority
    living in east, beginning to shift
    demographically from the Yellow River Valley and
    North China Plain to the Yangzi River Valley in
    the south.

Resources and population (cont.)
  • Every able-bodied man donated one month of labor
    annually for public works projects building
    palaces, temples, roads, fortifications, canals
    working on imperial estates or in mines.
  • The state also demanded two years of service to
    the military.
  • Han Chinese gradually expanded, bringing into new
    regions their social organization, values,
    language and other cultural practices at the
    expense of the ethnic groups they displaced or
    absorbed ? imperial expansion through war to
    northern Vietnam and Korea under Han Wudi (the
    Martial Emperor, who ruled from 141 to 87 BCE).
  • The basic unit of society was the family ?
    absolute power rested with father, who presided
    over rituals of ancestor worship.

Confucianism becomes very influential
  • Each person had a place and responsibilities
    within family hierarchy, based on gender, age,
    relationship with other family members.
  • Family taught basic values of Chinese society
    loyalty, obedience to authority, respect for
    elders, concern for honor and right conduct.
  • Hierarchy of the state mirrored hierarchy of the
    family, so family attitudes carried over into the
    relationship of individuals and the state.

Civil service examination
  • The Han continued the Qin system of selecting
    government officials on the basis of merit rather
    than birth ? idea is to ensure competence among
    bureaucrat administrators.
  • In 165 BCE, the first known civil service
    examination was given to candidates for positions
    in the bureaucracy and according to tradition,
    an academy for training future civil servants in
    the tenets of Confucianism was soon set up and
    serving as many as 30,000 students.
  • In theory, young men from any class could rise in
    the state hierarchy through merit but in
    practice, sons of the gentry had an advantage in
    that they were most likely to afford and receive
    necessary educational prerequisites (hence,
    emergence of scholar-gentry).

Gentry like the equites
  • Han emperors allied themselves with the gentry
    the class next in wealth below the aristocrats
    so as to limit the political influence of the
    rural aristocracy, which was a threat to their
    centralized rule.
  • These moderately prosperous and often educated
    landowners were like the Roman equites Augustus
    favored ? made government more efficient.
  • Still, the alliance with the gentry did not
    prevent the recurrence of economic inequities
    that characterized the last years of the Zhou As
    the population exploded, average size of an
    individual farm plot shrank to 1 acre, barely
    enough for survival ? many peasants eventually
    forced to sell their land, become tenant farmers
    and the land increasingly came to be
    concentrated in powerful landed clans.

Trade and technology
  • These clans often owned thousands of acres worked
    by tenants and mustered their own military forces
    to bully free farmers into becoming tenants.
  • Although these economic difficulties would
    eventually be a primary reason for the fall of
    the Han dynasty, in general the era was
    productive and prosperous.
  • Despite viewing private commerce with outright
    disdain and merchants generally as parasites,
    trade began to flourish along what came to be
    called the Silk Roads the overland caravan
    routes leading westward into Central Asia and
    ultimately linking China with India and the
    Mediterranean (much more on that very important
    subject to come soon!).

Trade and technologyMore advanced than elsewhere
  • New technology often centuries or even a
    millennium ahead of what eventually came to
    Europe contributed to the economic prosperity
    of the Han era
  • at a time when Roman blacksmiths produced
    wrought-iron tools and weapons by hammering
    heated iron, the Chinese hammered ores with a
    higher carbon content to produce steel and were
    using heat-resistant clay in the walls of their
    blast furnaces to raise temperatures above 1500
    degrees Celsius ? artisans could then cast
    liquefied iron into molds (cast iron).

Trade and technologyPaper, a horse collar and
  • Paper was invented under the Han perhaps by the
    second century BCE soaked plant fibers and bark
    were pounded with a mallet, and the resulting
    mixture was then poured through a porous mat
    leaving a residue on the mat surface that, when
    dried out, was relatively smooth, lightweight
    medium for writing.

The trace harness, a strap running across the
horses chest so that its breathing wasnt
constricted, was a Chinese invention that allowed
Chinese horses to pull much heavier loads than
European horses.
Trade and technologySmooth as silk
  • Other inventions included
  • the crossbow.
  • the watermill (to turn a grindstone).
  • the wheelbarrow.
  • a more efficient plow with two blades.
  • the sternpost rudder.
  • fore-and-aft rigging (permitting ships to sail
    into the wind for the first time, meaning Chinese
    ships could sail throughout the islands of
    Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean).
  • Chinas most valuable export commodity was silk,
    the making of which sericulture was a closely
    guarded state secret for millennia dating back as
    far as the Neolithic era.

Gathered cocoons, left, and a modern silk
production line, bottom.
A silk moth lays 500 or more eggs in four to six
days before dying. From an ounce of eggs come
about 30,000 worms, which eat a ton of mulberry
leaves and produce 12 pounds of raw silk. The
worms are carefully kept on stacked trays until
theyve stored up enough energy to enter the
cocoon stage their silk glands produce a
jelly-like substance that hardens when it
contacts air, and they spend several days
spinning a cocoon around themselves.
At this stage they look like puffy white balls.
Theyre stored warm and dry for 8-9 days and then
steamed or baked to kill the worms, or pupa. Then
theyre dipped in hot water to loosen the tightly
woven filaments, which are then unwound onto a
spool. The super-fine filament around each cocoon
can approach 3,000 feet in length, and 5-8
strands are twisted together to make a single
silk thread.
Trade and technologyA monopoly on much
  • For a time the Han government ran huge silk
    mills, competing with private weavers in making a
    luxurious cloth that was increasingly a
    high-demand product as far away as Rome.
  • The government established monopolies on the
    mining and distribution of salt, the forging of
    iron, the minting of coins and the brewing of
  • Because there were so many mouths to feed,
    agriculture was considered the most honored
    occupation but despite the official bad
    mouthing of merchants, commerce remained very
    important to the Han.

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Han women
  • Confucian ethics stressed the impropriety of
    women participating in public life
  • A womans duties are to cook the five grains,
    heat the wine, look after her parents-in-law,
    make clothes, and that is all! (She) has no
    ambition to manage affairs outside the house
    She must follow the three submissions. When she
    is young, she must submit to her parents. After
    her marriage, she must submit to her husband.
    When she is widowed, she must submit to her son.
  • an account of the life of the mother of
    Confucian philosopher Mencius, from Chinese
    Civilization and Society A Sourcebook (quoted in
    Bulliet et al.)

Han womenPressure to conform
  • The experiences of women in ancient China
    especially those from the lower classes are
    hard to determine because contemporary written
    records dont reveal much. Furthermore, they were
    written by men from the upper classes, so they
    were perpetuating an ideal most likely felt more
    acutely by upper-class females. Ironically,
    lower-class women more removed from Confucian
    ways of thinking may have had somewhat more
    freedom than the more privileged Chinese women.
  • After a pre-arranged marriage by parents, a young
    bride would have to go off and prove herself (an
    ability to produce sons was key) to her new
    family ? competing with mother-in-law and
    sisters-in-law for influence with the males of
    the household and greater share of familys
    economic resources often produced dissension.

Divinity in nature
  • Like early Romans, the ancient Chinese believed
    that divinity resided in nature. They therefore
    worshipped and tried to appease its forces.
  • The state built shrines to the lords of rain, the
    winds, rivers and mountains.
  • People gathered at mounds or alters where the
    local spirit of the soil was thought to reside.
    There they sacrificed sheep and pigs, and beat
    drums to promote the fertility of the soil.

The much-admired horse
  • The Chinese had domesticated the smaller
    Mongolian pony as early as 2000 BCE, but they
    didnt acquire horses until the end of the first
    millennium BCE as a result of Han military
    expeditions into Central Asia. Admired for their
    power and grace, horses made of terracotta or
    bronze were often placed in Qin and Han tombs a
    fact that suggests the Chinese viewed horses as
    possessing divine power.

Han artwork a terracotta horse head.
The decline of the Han Empire
  • The Han Empire generally controlled lands
    occupied by farming peoples but was bedeviled by
    barbarian nomads including a group known as
    the Xiongnu (shee-UNG-noo) living off their
    herds to the northwest (see Bentley map, p. 196).
  • These nomads had lethal archery skills from
    horseback and were often militarily more than a
    match for the Chinese when peaceful trade broke
    down, they would raid settled villages and take
    what they wanted.
  • Early Han rulers tired to buy them off with gifts
    of silk, rice, alcohol and money to no avail.
  • In the end, continuous military vigilance along
    the frontier burdened Han finances and worsened
    the economy.

The decline of the Han EmpireMultiple long-term
  • Several factors led to the fall of the Han Empire
    in 220 CE
  • the cost of defending the frontier.
  • factional intrigues within the ruling clan.
  • official corruption and inefficiency.
  • the ambitions and influence of rural warlords,
    independent of imperial control, who emerged from
    the large landed estate owners.
  • the breakdown of military conscription, which
    forced the government to turn to foreign soldiers
    and officers lacking loyalty to the Han state.
  • uprisings of hungry and desperate peasants (e.g.,
    Yellow Turban Rebellion).

Four centuries of disunity
  • With a productive economy stimulated by many
    technological advancements, the Han had completed
    the project begun by the Qin of unifying China
    at least while they held the Mandate of Heaven.
  • Han rulers projected a set of distinctive
    traditions that politically and culturally shaped
    China and its neighbors (including Vietnam, Korea
    and Central Asia) over the long term.
  • When the Han central government finally
    collapsed, ushered in was a period of more than
    three centuries of divided China, in which
    regional kingdoms vied for power.

  • The Earth and Its Peoples A Global History
    (Bulliet et al.)
  • Traditions Encounters A Global Perspective on
    the Past (Bentley Ziegler)
  • World History (Duiker Spielvogel)
  • Patterns of Interaction (McDougal Littell,
  • AP World History review guides The Princeton
    Review, Kaplan and Barrons
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