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The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Chapter 6: An Age of Empires: Rome and Han China, 753 B.C.E.-330 C.E.


The Roman Empire, 12 C.E.

The Roman Empire, 150 C.E.

Roman Empire, 180 C.E.

Maps of the Roman Empire

The Roman Empire: Maps

East Asia Map

Qin and Its Conquest

Qin Dynasty Map

The Han Empire

The Han Dynasty, 206 B.C.E-220 C.E.

Han Empire, 100 C.E.

Han Imperial China


Maecenas: Images of Ancient Greece and Rome
A comprehensive site that offers 1100 images of Roman ruins throughout the empire.

Art in College Teaching: Roman Art and Architecture
This gallery has forty images from various periods in Roman history.

Virtual Tour of Rome
An interactive site that tours the ruins of the city of Rome.  Click the question mark sign for description of the ruins.  To find images of the Coliseum, click "Browse the Tour Index" and then scroll down the alphabetical index until you arrive at "Coliseum."

Pictorial Tour of Rome
Another virtual tour of ruins of the city of Rome.

Pictorial Tour of the Empire
A virtual tour of ruins throughout the Roman Empire.

This comprehensive site offers over 100 images of Roman ruins from the city of Rome and many provinces.  Scroll down to find four good images of the famous Coliseum of Rome.

Roman Art and Architecture
Another comprehensive site of images from Rome and its provinces.

OSSHE Historical and Cultural Atlas Resource
Included in this site are many images of urban Rome and the empire's infrastructure such as roads and aqueducts.

Internet East Asian Sourcebook: Imperial China
Scroll down to Qin and Han Dynasty for several images from these periods.

Ancient Civilization seen through Computer Graphics: Tomb of Shih Huang Ti
This unique site has images and streaming video of computer generated depictions of the tomb of China's first emperor and founder of the Qin Dynasty.

This site has several small images of the artifacts from Shi Huangdi's tomb.

Marc Richards Fine Art Gallery: The Han Dynasty
This gallery includes images of Han artists' depictions of animals, jars and vessels, and human figures.

Artifacts from Imperial Tombs of China
Along with images from other periods, this site contains several images of artifacts from Han Dynasty era imperial tombs.

The Art of Ancient China
This site includes several images from the Qin and Han Dynasties.

Eternal China
Click on Qin and Han Objects to view several artifacts from these time periods.

The Great Wall
This site offers numerous images from the Great Wall of China.  Note: These images depict the version of the wall built during the fourteenth and fifteeth centuries C.E.

Activity One:

This chapter explores the development of two contemporary empires - Rome and Han China - between 753 B.C.E. and 330 C.E. on opposite sides of the Eurasian continent.  See Trade Routes and Great Empires of the First Century. Although these empires had no real contact with each other, in a broad perspective, they had much in common.  First and foremost, they were able to promote order and stability for several centuries in the lands they controlled.  In the process, they spread their culture far from their initial homeland.  One manner in which they pursued order and stability was through military strategy.  Both Rome and Han China created empires vast in scope.  Study the Maps at Map of the Roman Empire and Han Empire, 100 C.E.  Compare and contrast the geographical scope of each empire.  What did they have in common?  What was different?  Consider the shape of the empires and geographical features such as deserts, oceans, etc.  How ethnically diverse was each empire?  To analyze how each empire secured its borders, go to Virtually a Tour of a Desert Fort and The Great Wall.  Also study the images at Hadrian's Wall and the Via Appia.  Using these sources, describe how the Romans and Han Chinese promoted military security.  From whom were they protecting themselves?

Activity Two:

In addition to military concerns, the Romans and Han Chinese also shared many of the same strategies in promoting the authority of the central government.  Both political systems gave broad powers to emperors.  Each system had many methods of promoting the emperors' authority.  For example, go to The Deeds of the Divine Augustus.  Also analyze the images at Emperor Augustus (pay particular attention to "Part 3: The Statue of Augustus at Prima Porta," and remember that you can click on the photos for an enlarged view) and Liu Bang: Founder of the Han Dynasty.  According to these sources, how did each empire promote the authority of the emperor?  What theoretical underpinnings upheld his power?  What forms of propaganda did they use to promote the emperor's powers?  What was the emperor expected to do for the empire?  Why were people supposed to submit to his authority?  Through the political office of the emperor, the Romans and Han Chinese were able to centralize the power of their governments.  Read the essays at The Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161 and The Emperor Wu-ti 140-87 B.C..  List examples of how each government gained more power over the territories they controlled during the reigns of these emperors.  For example, both rulers made efforts to reform their bureaucracies.  How did these efforts help to consolidate their governments' power?  After reviewing the sites in this activity and those in Activity One, explain the similarities between the Han Chinese and Roman governments' efforts to promote stability and order.  Why do you think there are so many broad similarities in their governing styles and strategies?

Activity Three:

At the height of their power, both empires expanded their knowledge of the world around them.  Go to The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea: Travel and Trade in the Indian Ocean by a Merchant of the First Century.  This site contains a primary source from a Roman sailor's experiences traveling down the east coast of Africa and around the Arabian peninsula.  Also read the text and study the images at Han Emperor Wu-ti's Interest in Central Asia and Chang Chien's Expeditions.  Use the Maps above to familiarize yourself with the areas these sites describe.  The following are especially useful: East Asia Map, The Han Empire, and The Roman Empire, 150 C.E.  Why were the Romans and the Han Chinese intrigued by the areas described in these sources?  What were their attitudes toward the people living there?  How did their vast strength allow for greater contact with areas beyond their borders?  What implications do you believe this contact had for world history?  Hint: See Trade Routes and Great Empires of the First Century.  This legacy will be explored further in Chapter 8 "Networks of Communication and Exchange, 300 B.C.E.-1100 C.E."