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Romans May Have Learned From Chinese Great Wall: Archaeologists
People's Daily Online/Xinhua ^ | 12-20-2005

Posted on 12/20/2005 9:59:10 AM PST by blam

Romans may have learned from Chinese Great Wall: archaeologists

The construction of the Roman Limes was quite possibly influenced by the concept of the Great Wall in China, though the two great buildings of the world are far away from each other, said archaeologists and historians.

Although there is no evidence that the two constructions had any direct connections, indirect influence from the Great Wall on the Roman Limes is certain, said Visy Zsolt, a professor with the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology of the University of Pecs in Hungary.

Visy made the remarks in an interview with Xinhua as he attended an international conference in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province recently, and his opinion was shared by some Chinese and foreign scholars.

The Roman Limes are Europe's largest archaeological monument, consisting of sections of the border line of the Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the 2nd century AD.

All together, the Limes stretch over 5,000 kilometers from the Atlantic coast of northern Britain, through Europe to the Black Sea, and from there to the Red Sea and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast.

Vestiges include the remains of the ramparts, walls and ditches, close to 900 watchtowers, 60 forts, and civilian settlements which accommodated tradesmen, craftsmen and others who served in the military.

The long distance and the great number of different peoples and cultures in Central Asia made any connections between the two ancient Roman and Chinese empires almost impossible.

However, curiosity and the challenge of covering great distances and seeing remote lands excited people in the past, Visy said.

"Indeed, more information about each other could be gained exactly in times as the one or the other became stronger and could start some programs toward the other," Visy said.

As for the Roman Empire, the silk trade started during the reign of Augustus. The trade became intensive both on the Silk Route and in the sea.

The Chinese chief commander Ban Chao led an army up the Caspian Sea in the 1st century AD and sent a delegation to the west to get information about Rome (called Daqin in Chinese).

Visy noted that there are a lot of similarities between the Roman Limes and the Great Wall. Both empires wanted to launch a strong barrier against "barbarians" and to prevent their invasions. In doing so, the Han Dynasty (226 BC-220 AD) built a continuous wall, but Rome built a wall only in special cases.

"It was an important point in both systems to build a military road along the limes, as well as a row of beacon towers in a strict sequence. Also the military centers and bigger forts are similar in the Roman and in the Chinese constructions," Visy said.

Archaeologists have found almost the same methods were used for providing signs at the Great Wall and the Roman Limes.

Visy said another factor that should not be neglected is that the western most sector of the Great Wall was built in the last decades of the 2nd century BC, during the strong rule of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty.

"The Chinese Empire seems to be interested in Western connections, at least in Central Asia," Visy said.

The trade connections between the two empires were quite intensive in the first century and at least in the first half of the second one. "It is worth noting that the north line of the Silk Road was opened also at the beginning of the 1st century AD," Visy said.

A. Stein and other scholars' research in the region of Dunhuang and Lop Nur in northwest China has also found similarities between the Great Wall and the Roman Limes, according to Visy.

Taking all these points into consideration one can ask the question if all this is due to chance or if there is a connection between the two constructions, Visy said.

"It is quite obvious to suppose that Rome gained information about China and about their special, complicated structure of frontier defence. Could the idea of the strong limes not come from the well-tried system of China?" Visy added.

Xu Weimin, director of the Department of History of Northwest China University, said that during the 400 years from the 3rd century BC to the 2nd century AD, lots of Chinese silk was transported to the western countries via the Silk Road. It is natural that the information about the Great Wall was spread to the Rome Empire.

The Great Wall was first built in the 7th century BC, and was repaired, enlarged and rebuilt in many dynasties. In the Han Dynasty, the western most part of the Great Wall was extended to the Lop Nur in today's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to protect the Silk Road.

Chen Yongzhi, vice director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, said the exchanges between the east and west started earlier than believed. In addition to silk, the information about the Great Wall was also exchanged.

"It's convincing that the Roman Limes and the Great Wall have some 'blood relationship'," Chen added.

Source: Xinhua


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ancientnavigation; antoninewall; aramaic; archaeologists; china; chinese; from; galilee; gaskridge; germanlimes; godsgravesglyphs; great; greatwallofchina; hadrianswall; have; learned; limes; may; milhist; militaryhistory; romanempire; romans; scotland; scotlandyet; sepphoris; wall; yehudahanasi
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"The long distance and the great number of different peoples and cultures in Central Asia made any connections between the two ancient Roman and Chinese empires almost impossible."

Pure BS!

The 4,000 year old red-headed Caucasian mummies found in China were found very near Dunhuang, the location of the 'Jade Gate' in the Great Wall Of China.

Elizabeth Barber, in her book, Mummies Of Urumchi, clearly established a connection between the mummies and the Celts at Halstadt, Austria...5,000 miles away from the site of the mummies.

1 posted on 12/20/2005 9:59:12 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

If you build a wall, and I build a wall, utilizing the construction materials of the same time, for the same purposes, then it isn't out of the realm of possibility that your wall and my wall would be similar is size, shape and basic design.........


2 posted on 12/20/2005 10:03:09 AM PST by Red Badger (And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him)
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To: blam

I think it's implausible that the Roman frontier defenses were in any way, shape, or form dependent on the Chinese frontier defenses. The concept of a wall is quite universal, and the idea that a big wall on the borders will keep out invadors is nothing if not obvious.

Keep in mind that Chinese archaeology is notorious for misrepresenting history for Chinese propaganda purposes.


3 posted on 12/20/2005 10:07:39 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: blam

Very cool. Thanks for posting!


4 posted on 12/20/2005 10:07:49 AM PST by COBOL2Java (The Katrina Media never gets anything right, so why should I believe them?)
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To: blam

I think it's implausible that the Roman frontier defenses were in any way, shape, or form dependent on the Chinese frontier defenses. The concept of a wall is quite universal, and the idea that a big wall on the borders will keep out invadors is nothing if not obvious.

Keep in mind that Chinese archaeology is notorious for misrepresenting history for Chinese propaganda purposes.


5 posted on 12/20/2005 10:07:49 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: blam

News of the future: US learns from great wall, closes Mexican border.


6 posted on 12/20/2005 10:10:24 AM PST by Rain-maker
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To: AntiGuv

Dunno why I hiccuped!

BTW, one of the biggest arguments against the notion that the Roman defenses were predicated on the Chinese defenses is that the Roman frontier defenses were never systematic in the same way that the Chinese defenses were. More importantly, we do have considerable records of the development of the Roman Limes and of the Great Wall and to my knowledge there is no record of the Romans acknowledging the alleged Chinese origin of the idea.

Finally, we have a good sense of how familiar the Romans were with China and the Chinese were with Rome and it's quite clear that they had nothing but the very dimmest conception that one another existed.


7 posted on 12/20/2005 10:11:16 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: SunkenCiv
GGG Ping.

The Mummies Of Urumchi


8 posted on 12/20/2005 10:11:59 AM PST by blam
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To: blam

This hypothesis I think is clearly a post hoc ergo prompter hoc fallacy, and by applying the same logic I see no reason whatsoever that the Great Wall of China wasn't inspired by the Long Walls of Athens.


9 posted on 12/20/2005 10:21:00 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: blam

This is nothing more than a continuation of the old communist "we invented it first" BS.


10 posted on 12/20/2005 10:23:06 AM PST by Natural Law
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To: blam
The Roman border walls and the Great Wall have absolutely no relationship with one another.

This is the Chinese government making ridiculous assertions.

Sovereigns have been building territorial walls to keep out bandits since Sumer.

11 posted on 12/20/2005 10:24:48 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Natural Law
Correct. And the Great Wall as we know it was an invention of the 14th century. Hadrian's Wall was built in the 2nd century.

the Qin wall was built in 200 BC, but it was only a few dozen miles long and not continuous.

12 posted on 12/20/2005 10:27:31 AM PST by wideawake
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To: Red Badger

On the other hand, it may only prove that the solution to similar problems may come up with similar simple answers.

In virtually every area of the world where large beasts were available for taming and working, man developed wheels. I don't think anyone claims that wheels were the invention of one single culture.

However, in the Americas, where no large draft animals were available, the wheel was unknown except as a children's toy. It apparently wasn't considered as a solution to a common problem.


13 posted on 12/20/2005 10:38:31 AM PST by wildbill
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To: blam

The construction of the border fence marked the end of expansion of the Roman Empire, which, since expansion of the Empire was the driving force of the Empire, marked also the end of the rise of the Empire and the beginning of its descent.


14 posted on 12/20/2005 10:42:43 AM PST by RightWhale (pas de lieu, Rhone que nous)
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To: wideawake
Correct. And the Great Wall as we know it was an invention of the 14th century. Hadrian's Wall was built in the 2nd century.

So it makes you wonder why, after a lull, the Chinese government is once again touting Chinese superiority; esp. using something so easily disproved as this.

Could a cloud have appeared in the enamel blue sky of the Middle Kingdom?

15 posted on 12/20/2005 10:46:39 AM PST by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: blam
"The long distance and the great number of different peoples and cultures in Central Asia made any connections between the two ancient Roman and Chinese empires almost impossible."

Nevermind the fact that they exchanged ambassadors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_embassies_to_China
16 posted on 12/20/2005 10:49:28 AM PST by English Nationalist
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To: blam; FairOpinion; Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; 24Karet; 3AngelaD; asp1; ...
Thanks Blam. There was contact, but I find the rest of the article a little farfetched. :') OTOH, I'll post a link in a minute that will send everyone running. ;')

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
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17 posted on 12/20/2005 11:13:24 AM PST by SunkenCiv ("In silence, and at night, the Conscience feels that life should soar to nobler ends than Power.")
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Romans in China?
Archaeology | Volume 52 Number 3, May/June 1999 | Erling Hoh
Posted on 07/18/2004 8:43:09 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1173944/posts


18 posted on 12/20/2005 11:15:39 AM PST by SunkenCiv ("In silence, and at night, the Conscience feels that life should soar to nobler ends than Power.")
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To: English Nationalist
To say that Han China and Antonine Rome exchanged ambassadors is really stretching the description in that article, much less the meaning of the terms.

First, the entire notion of sitting embassies that this implies did not exist in that era. To say that one exchanged embassies is to say that envoys were sent from one court to another.

Second, nothing in that article suggests that a Chinese 'ambassador' got any further than Seleucid Syria, during the Hellenistic Era, before the Roman Empire even existed.

Third, that Roman merchants made is far as China - and vice versa - is hardly controversial. But to suggest that they were 'officially' dispatched by, say, Marcus Aurelius is rather pushing it.

Fourth, and related, there is no record of Marcus Aurelius sending envoys to China. At best, one would say that this was of no consequence.

Fifth, the Roman Limes were mostly in place some fifty years before the reign of Marcus Aurelius, and almost entirely completed during the reign of Hadrian.

Sixth, the uncontroversial notion that some itinerant Romans stumbled their way over to China hardly leads to the idea that said Romans toured the rudimentary Chinese frontier defenses of that era, returned to Rome, received an imperial audience, and led, say, Emperor Trajan to say: A ha! What a wonderful idea! We shall mimic it post haste!

Seventh, it is well-known that the Romans had a dim concept of some great empire on the other side of the world, as did the Chinese have a dim concept of some great empire on the other side of the world. There are plenty of cartographic and geographic records to confirm that this is all they were aware of. Over and over again there is nothing whatsoever of detail or substance written in either Rome with regard to China or in China with regard to Rome. All it ever amounts to is: there's some great empire way over there, beyond all these other great empires that are of far more immediate interest.

19 posted on 12/20/2005 11:23:52 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: wideawake
The Great Wall we see today was built during the Ming dynasty. However, there were several other Great Walls built in the previous dynasties. Remnants of them still exist, but only in bits and pieces.

If the Hungarian guy was talking about the similarities between the Lime and the Great Wall, he must be referring to the earlier versions of the Great Wall.
20 posted on 12/20/2005 11:29:08 AM PST by Fishing-guy
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