The Roman Empire and Han China: A close comparison

The Roman Empire and Han China: A close comparison

Age of Empires: Rome & Han China 753 BCE-600 CE Imperial Rome and Han China Both lasted approximately 400 years Both had populations of about 50 million Rome Natural protections-central location Able to utilize manpower resources of Italy Mediterranean=Roman Lake Hilly, fertile arable land Many navigable rivers

Han China Natural protections-relative isolation Large landmass River systems, plateau, deserts, mnts North China plain-fertile but required extensive irrigation Origins of Empire Han China built on earlier imperial traditions started by the Qin and Zhou Rome built on aristocratic landlords expanding out from a city-state

Government Rome 1st ruled by Kings, then republican oligarchy Augustus set model for Emperorestablished Principate-a military dictatorship-cult of emperor Well organized bureaucracy founded on Roman law & classical learningused local officials Standing Army- best trained, best fed

Slave labor Built extensive road system for military but also spread commerce & culture Enemies on borders 1st persecuted then adopted Christianity Han China Dynastic Mandate-Emperor was Son of Heaven

Well organized bureaucracy founded on Confucian ideas & traditions-used local officials Emperor promulgated the law Military & civilian conscription Built extensive road system for military but also spread commerce and culture Enemies on borders Adopted Confucianism Used Confucian scholars as government officials Politics Rome Citizenship Laws established by Twelve Tables Han China No idea of citizenship Law promulgated by

Emperor Militarism: Both emphasized territorial expansion Roman Empire Han China Perceived threats to security led to wars and conquests, which only increased the length of borders and led to more perceived threatswhich led to more conquests Economic Ancient Rome Agriculture-latifundia-large estates owned by wealthy Significant slave labor Received revenue from percentage of

annual harvest Degree of economic mobility for middle classes Han China Agriculture-Gentry-large estates owned by wealthy Significant population growth Agriculture directed by government; monopolies on iron, salt Received revenue from percentage of annual harvest Merchants & peasants paid taxes in coin cash & land taxes with portion of crop Han China

Rome Merchants were 2nd rate occupation Trade flourished: Pax Romana Silk, spices Coin Currency Merchants: Itinerant, large scale, traveled extensively, often wealthy, special privileges

Merchants: marketplace-low status Unprecedented growth in commerce industry tributary exchanges w/ foreign countries Coin currency Government owned shops that competed with itinerant merchants to reduce their economic power Urbanization Rome Rome Model for other cities Prominent marketplace: Forum Wealth derived from conquest Colosseum, Pantheon,

Hippodrome, Baths Han China Changan & Luoang Model for other cities Prominent marketplace Wealth derived from private commerce, new trade routes, handicraft industries Prominent marketplaces Technology Rome Roads, bridge-building, ballistic weapons

elevated & underground aqueducts arches & domes amphitheaters sewage systems concrete Han China Roads, canals, Great Wall Astronomical observations Watermills Horse collar Paper, crossbow trigger Early seismometer

Integrating the empires Infrastructure: Massive road building projects linked crucial parts of the empires Roads facilitated communication, economic activity, access to resources, movement of military Rome invented concrete & engineered feats like aqueducts Yep thats a Roman Road, still around today. Looking good after 2,000 years. Mechanisms for Political Integration: China Confucianism identified principles necessary for political & social order Emphasized emperors divine majesty, links to Heaven, morality through correct

ritual (ancestor veneration Developed a sophisticated bureaucracy with govt officials in provinces (staffed by middle class) Imperial Academy & exam system meant ALL areas of China were cohesive & Confucian Mechanisms for Political Integration: Rome Bureaucracy less complex than Han relied on local elites & middle class to control provinces Greater emphasis on law codes- common legal system

Monuments & triumphal processions played up glory of empire & rulers Cult of deceased Emperors Citizenship & Colonies: China Large colonies of ethnically Han (northern) Chinese planted in newly conquered territories Use of Mandarin language required by elites & bureaucrats Ideology of Confucianism enforced by the central authority Citizenship & Colonies: Rome Colonies were military outposts-not intended

for population integration Latin encouraged but never took over Greek in East (people STILL looked up to Greek culture) Expansion of Roman citizenship given for army service Loose control-more local autonomy Imperial Power Both systems expanded functions of government Used bureaucracy & taxation to provision major cities & increased coercion with military Both governments actively engaged in economic activity designed to ensure stability

Han=monopoly on salt & iron Rome=Bread and Circuses Territorial Expansion Imperial Han China Pushed boundaries far beyond Qin homeland, but when reached sustainable point, did not feel need to compensate for cessation of expansion Labor force not reliant on slavery peasant population made constant expansion less necessary Chinese script helped unify Imperial Rome More militaristic Needed additional territory as source of wealth & to pay

soldiers Needed continuing supply of slaves for labor system Latin language helped unify Provided opportunity for Roman citizenship Family & Society Rome Basic unit of society=the family Paterfamilias exercised absolute authority High status males elicited obedience Ancestors/family name important

Inequality accepted, institutionalized Reliance on patricians Patron-client relationships-system of mutual benefit & obligation Han China Basic unit of society=family Emphasis on family ancestors-filial piety Family hierarchy reflected in society Ancestors played active role in everyday life Reliance on landowning gentry Role of Women Rome

Patriarchal No public role Unable to own property or represent self in legal matters Depended on male guardians Less constrained than Greek Women Over time, gained rights & protections Some women very influential Han China

Patriarchal-expected to be obedient Quality of life depended on economics Status & authority depended on society Royal women could be very influential-Empress Dowager could over-ride decisions of Emperor Religious/ Philosophical Systems Early, both focused on

rituals & themes to instilled loyalty to empireneither intensely spiritual Both exposed to new religions late in Classical Period (Buddhism in China, Christianity in Rome) Both incorporated elements of respective beliefs as methods of political control Religion/Philosophical Systems Han China (Shamanistic-Confucian) Rome (Paganism-Christian) Divination Polytheistic-adopted Greek gods Calendar revolved around religious festivals

Invisible forces callednumina Rituals sacrifices to maintain Pax deorum-peace of gods Christianity suppressed then adopted as state religion Divination Cult of Ancestors Nature Spirits Yin/Yang Feng Shui Confucianism-rituals & relationships Daoism-questioned

tradition-rejected hierarchy Buddhism-syncretized as it spread to China Decline & Fall Rome Han China Internal conflicts in military Rivalries & divisions of authority due to vast size Division of Empire into East and West Christianity undermined traditional values Conflict within ruling elites Peasant rebellions Generals usurped power=warlords-divide into 3 kingdoms

Northern nomads Decline of Imperial Rome and Han China Overexpansion led to invasions by nomadic pastoralists Tax based weakened as land (wealth) was concentrated into fewer handspaid less in taxes Decline in morals/values Urban decay=Decline in public health Political corruption Unemployment; inflation Military spending Lack of technological innovation

Western Roman cultural elements died out with the empire: change Han dynasty was destroyed, but its institutions and traditions were revived by later dynasties: continuity Why Was China Revived and Rome Not? No Roman equivalent of Confucianismno method or idea of political organization and social conduct that could survive the breakdown of the Roman state Dynasties come & go, but Confucianism continues Roman culture blended with Germanic to create new traditions Many Roman characteristics continued into Byzantine Empire: law, Christianity, & military organization, etc.

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