Limited Contact and Knowledge Between the Han Empire and the Roman Empire

TLDR The Han Empire in China and the Roman Empire in Europe had limited direct contact and knowledge of each other, with the Parthian Empire serving as a middleman. While the Chinese referred to Rome as "Da Qin" and knew about the import of silk, there is little evidence of significant interaction or cultural exchange between the two empires.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The Han Empire in China and the Roman Empire in Europe were aware of each other, but there is little evidence of direct contact between them.
01:49 The Parthian Empire served as a middleman between China and Rome, controlling the land trade routes and requiring sea travelers to stop at their ports; the Chinese had limited knowledge of Rome, referring to it as "Da Qin" or Great Qin, and their description of Rome was generic and could apply to many cities.
03:28 The Chinese had limited knowledge of Rome, but they knew that the Roman ruler was not permanent, they wanted to communicate with China but were prevented by the Parthians, and they identified the primary product that Rome imported as silk.
05:05 The Romans had limited knowledge of the region east of India, referred to as Siracum, and while they imported silk from China, there is little evidence to suggest they knew about Chinese culture or the people who lived there.
06:37 While there is evidence of Roman glass found in Chinese tombs, very few people actually made the trip from Rome to China, and most Chinese knowledge of Rome likely came from second-hand information.
08:09 A Roman delegation arrived in China in 166, but there are no Roman documents confirming the visit, and the knowledge between the two empires was mostly vague second-hand information.
09:45 There is no archaeological evidence of ancient Europeans traveling far inland into China, and recent DNA testing suggests that European traits in some residents likely came from Central Asia.
Categories: History Education

Browse more History