Chapter 6 Outline
According to Chinese sources, in the year 166 C.E a group of travelers identifying themselves as delegates from Andun, were the first Romans to reach China. We do not know what became of these travelers, and their mission apparently did not lead to any more direct or regular contact between the empires at opposite ends of the vast Eurasian landmass. The Roman and Han Chinese Empires were both quantitatively and qualitatively different from earlier empires. The Roman Empire encompassed all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea as well as substantial portions of continental Europe and the Middle East. The Han Empire stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the oases of Central Asia. They were the largest empires the world had yet seen, extending over a greater diversity of lands and peoples than the Assyrian and Persian Empires in the Middle East and the Mauryan Empire in India. Yet they were able to centralize control to a greater degree than the earlier empires, their cultural impact on the lands and people they dominated was more pervasive and they were remarkably stable and lasted for many centuries. Thousands of miles separated the empires of Rome and Han China; neither one influenced the other.
Rome’s Creation of a Mediterranean Empire, 753 B.C.E. – 330 C.E.
Rome’s central location contributed to its success in unifying first Italy and then all the lands ringing the Mediterranean Sea. Rome lay at the midpoint of the peninsula, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the western coast, where a north-south road intersected an east-west river route. The Tiber River on one side and a double ring of seven hills on the other afforded natural protection to the site. The developing Roman state drew on the considerable natural resources of the peninsula. Italy is a land of hills and Mountains. The Apennine range runs along its length like a spine, separating the eastern and western coastal plains of Italy. Many of the rivers were navigable allowing...