We All Live in the Forbidden City Image

Travel the deserts and mountain passes of Central Asia with From Silk to Oil: Cross-Cultural Connections Along the Silk Road. This book of global studies curriculum, funded by the U.S. Department of Education and produced by China Institute, begins in the second century BCE and ends in the contemporary period.

The twenty-three curriculum units consist of a lesson plan, written and visual documents, maps, tables, and even a Silk Roads board game. There is also a glossary; lists of additional resources; and a CD with the entire text and color images-including hotlinks to relevant websites-in PDF format.

From Silk to Oil is directed at teachers of high school world history, global studies, social studies, geography, literature, and art. Some units will also be suitable for advanced middle school, community college, and lower level university survey courses. To order a copy, please e-mail asupraner@chinainstitute.org.

The book can be downloaded in eight separate sections.

Please select from the links below to open the PDF.

  1. Cover, prefatory material, and five introductory essays
  2. Maps

  3. 1. Geography Along The Silk Road (Units A-C)

  4. 2. Ethnic Relations And Political History Along The Silk Roads (Units D-I)

  5. 3. Exchange Of Goods And Ideas Along The Silk Roads (Units J-M)

  6. 4. Religions Along The Silk Roads (Units N-R)

  7. 5. Art Along The Silk Road (Units S-W)

  8. Supplementary Materials

Contact asupraner@chinainstitute.org

Curriculum Units

With the participation of teachers from all over the U.S., the Teach China program develops multi-disciplinary curriculum units aligned with national standards.

In July 2001, Teach China conducted a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, “China and the World.”  The institute offered a comprehensive survey of China ‘s relations with the non-Chinese world from earliest times to the end of the twentieth century. Historian Morris Rossabi was the main instruscience and technology, the visual arts, literature, and music were some of the specialized areas of focus.  Participant teachers designed units for the institute, two of which are made available for use:

  • Han China/ Ancient Rome
  • Comparing cultures is an important part of studying world history. It’s a skill students can cultivate in class discussion, through reading, by exploring the web, or in writing. Comparing cultures involves the ability to compare and contrast different experiences, beliefs, motives, traditions, hopes, and fears of people from various groups and backgrounds.

    This lesson, a broad comparison between the Roman Empireand the roughly contemporaneous Han Dynasty in China, is intended to encourage the development of such skills.

  • A Tang Newspaper
  • This assignment encourages students to think critically about the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), one of the most important and culturally brilliant periods in Chinese history. By using various sources to create a newspaper, students will bring to life the people and events of this period.


Han China & Ancient Rome
Comparing Two Classical Civilizations
Curriculum Materials

"Roman in his toga

A pair of horsemen
(Eastern Han)

INTRODUCTION FOR TEACHERS

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Comparing cultures is an important part of studying world history. It’s a skill students can cultivate in class discussion, through reading, by exploring the web, or in writing. Comparing cultures involves

the ability to compare and contrast different experiences, beliefs, motives, traditions, hopes, and fears of people from various groups and backgrounds. . . . (National Center 1996: 7)

This lesson, a broad comparison between the Roman Empire and the roughly contemporaneous Han Dynasty in China, is intended to encourage the development of such skills. It discusses topics such as geography, politics, the expansion of empire, and social organization. The last section is a list of suggested sources for teachers and students.

Why is the Roman Empire important? According to Peter S. Wells,

The Roman Empire is one of the world’s great unifying forces, linking peoples militarily, politically, economically, and culturally, from Northern Britain and the Straits of Gibralter in the west, to the Upper Euphrates and southern Egypt in the east. Rome’s trade connections reached even further afield – north to Finland, south to sub-Saharan Africa, and east to India. The empire’s effects are apparent in the languages, customs, and legal systems in many European countries. . . . All of the Romance languages – Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian – are descendants of the Latin of the Roman Empire. (Wells 1999: 18-19)
Description of Image
Chariots led by a horseman (Eastern Han)

Studying Latin was an essential part of European and American education well into the twentieth century and, for many educated people, Rome represented an ideal. George Washington, for instance, was compared to the Roman statesman and general Cincinnatus (sixth century BCE). Legend says that, like Washington, Cincinnatus left his farm to lead Rome during a period of crisis. When the enemy was defeated, he gave up power and went back to farming.

More than two thousand years ago, the Greek statesman and historian Polybius (c200-c118 BCE) said that

There can surely be nobody so petty or apathetic in his outlook that he has no desire to discover by what means and under what system of government the Romans succeeded in bringing under their rule almost the whole of the inhabited world. (Histories 1.78; Kebric 2001: 1)

The center of this multi-ethnic empire was the city of Rome. Like the hub of a wheel, Rome brought together people and goods from all over the world. Even silk from China found its way there. A Roman statesman and orator living during the so-called "Golden Age of the Roman Empire" in the second century CE tells us that

Around the [the Mediterranean] lie the continents far and wide, pouring an endless flow of goods [to Rome]… One can see so many cargoes from India, or, if you wish, from Arabia…, that one may surmise that the trees there have been left permanently bare, and that those people must come here to beg for their own goods whenever they need anything. Clothing from Babylonia and the luxuries from barbarian lands arrive… Egypt, Sicily, and the civilized part of Africa are [Rome's] farms. The arrival and departure of ships never ceases, so that it is astounding that the sea – not to mention the harbor – suffices for the merchantmen… all things converge here, trade, seafaring, agriculture, metallurgy, all the skills which exist and have existed, anything that is begotten and grows. (To Rome 11-13; Kebric 2001: 2)

At the other end of the Eurasian continent, China became a unified empire when the Qin state defeated the last of its rivals in 221 BCE. The dynasty it founded lasted less than two decades. Its successor was the long-lived Han dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE).

In his Shiji (Records of History, c100 BCE), a book that was the pattern for later dynastic histories, the Han writer Sima Qian (145-c85 BCE) describes the early decades of the dynasty.

When the Han dynasty came to power, it inherited the evils left by Qin. The able-bodied men were all away with the army, while the old and underaged busily transported supplies for them. There was much hard work and little wealth. The Son of Heaven himself could not find four horses of the same color to draw his carriage, many of his generals and ministers were reduced to riding about in ox carts, and the common people had nothing to lay away in their storehouses. (Watson 1961: 79)

At this time China was exhausted from the rebellion that overthrew Qin and the wars that followed between contenders to the throne. Sima Qian next describes Han society in his own lifetime. Sima lived under the rule of Emperor Wu (r. 141-87 BCE), at a time when China had become prosperous and government power was expanding.

By the time the present emperor had been on the throne a few years, a period of over seventy years had passed since the founding of the Han. During that time the nation had met with no major disturbances so that, except in times of flood or drought, every person was well supplied and every family had enough to get along on. The granaries in the city and the countryside were full and the government treasuries were running over with wealth… Horses were to be seen even in the streets and lanes of the common people… (Watson 1961: 81)

During the reign of Emperor Wu, China expanded its borders north to modern-day Korea and south to what is now Vietnam. It also sought allies and alliances in Central Asia to counter the Xiongnu, its nomadic enemy along the northern frontier. This age of prosperity and expansion could be compared to the Golden Age of the Roman Empire.

One important difference between Rome and the Han period, however, centers on the question of cultural cohesion. Which society established a common culture as a result of its conquests? In the words of Patricia Ebrey,

Perhaps because of the Chinese script, it is much easier to talk about a common culture among the elite in Han China than in the Roman Empire. As the influence of Chinese culture increased in frontier areas with the presence of Chinese garrisons and magistrates, members of the local population learned to read Chinese… Even if Latin became a lingua franca in the Roman Empire, other written languages continued to be used… (Ebrey 1996: 85)

One strong argument for Ebrey’s point is the continuity of Chinese civilization: Although the Roman Empire has vanished, Chinese culture still flourishes today, eighteen hundred years after the fall of the Han.

The Han dynasty is a major element in this continuity: The establishment of Chinese cultural, social, and political institutions during Han was so important and enduring an accomplishment that even today the Chinese call themselves "people of Han."

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

Han China & Ancient Rome
Comparing Two Classical Civilizations

Curriculum Materials

Roman armor from a small bronze found in Suffolk, England

Curriculum Materials

Roman empress

Activity

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Reading and class discussion comparing Han China with the Roman Empire.

Objectives

Students will compare aspects of government, economics, and culture in Han China and the Roman Empire. The ultimate objective will be for students to identify the similarities and differences in these two societies in order to understand the nature of cultural continuity, not only in ancient civilizations but as part of the modern world.

Rationale

Comparing the similarities and differences between Han China and the Roman Empire is an excellent way to develop students’ ability to make historical comparisons and to see how different societies respond to similar global processes.

Introduction to the Unit

A.

Display a map of Eurasia and point out the civilizations of the classical period, the time spans involved, and the general characteristics of the classical world (500 BCE to 500 CE).

B.

Have students define the term "empire" and identify the major empires of the classical period. Some issues that could be used in creating a working definition of "empire" are:

  • Empires may be made up of different peoples with different cultures.
  • Empires are held together by force but can achieve long periods of peace.
  • Political institutions (legislative bodies, bureaucracies) help empires maintain their power.
  • Roads and other public works (canals, walls, aqueducts) contribute to the making of empires.
  • Military technology defends empires against their neighbors.

Can Han China and Rome both fit under the same definition of "empire?" Which of the above apply equally to China and Rome? Which can be applied only to one?

 

Development of Lesson

 

A.

Explain to students that they will be comparing the development of the Roman Empire with that of Han China between the years 200 BCE and 200 CE. The teacher will present the main points of similarity and difference using the comparative notes that follow. Teachers may also use a Venn diagram. A "Chronological Table: Important Dates in the History of Han China and the Roman Empire" is included as well to help provide background for the lesson.

B.

When the comparison is completed, ask students to predict which culture/empire was more likely to survive over a long period? The teacher may have students write an essay and then discuss their conclusions in class. The "Suggested Sources for Student Research" at the end of this lesson includes a useful list of books, selections from books, and web sites.

Sources Cited in the Previous Sections

 

Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. 1996.
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Kebric, Robert B. (ed.). 2001.
Roman People.
Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.

 

National Center for History in the Schools. 1996.
National Standards for History.
University of California, Los Angeles: National Center for History in the Schools.

 

Watson, Burton (tr.). 1961.
Records of the Grand Historian of China, Vol. 2.
New York: Columbia University Press.

 

Wells, Peter S. 1999.
The Barbarians Speak — How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe.
Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Han China & Ancient Rome
Comparing Two Classical Civilizations

Curriculum Materials

Head of a Roman woman

COMPARATIVE NOTES

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Alt text here.
Chariot with a man carrying a battle-axe (Eastern Han)

This set of notes should serve as a teacher’s guide and as a point of departure for further study and reading. Teacher and students (individually or in teams) should develop a chart or table of similarities and differences based on their own research, using the list of suggested sources.

Size and Location

In the second century CE, China controlled about 1.5 million square miles of territory.
In the second century CE, Rome controlled about 1.7 million square miles of territory.


China’s first recorded census (2 CE) gives a figure of 58 million; Rome’s population was about the same.


Rome’s heartland was confined to Italy, with a population of some 3 million. Ethnically speaking, the rest of the empire was largely non-Roman.


During Han, most of the population lived on the North China Plain. The census figure given above, derived from counting peasant households, is restricted to Chinese.

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Government and Rulership

Before 27 BCE, Rome was a republic. In theory, power resided with the people who elected magistrates. In reality, the government of Rome would have been accurately described as an oligarchy run by the Senate. Although it could not pass laws or elect magistrates, the Senate was the main governing body.

During the late Republic, the Senate’s power was challenged by the rise of military strong men. Competition between generals led to civil war (49 BCE) and the eventual fall of the Republic. One of these generals, Julius Caesar, became dictator of Rome in 44 BCE. His adopted great-nephew, Octavian, brought peace to Rome and became its first emperor.

Han was heir to the short-lived Qin state that had succeeded in unifying China in 221 BCE. The first ruler of Qin established the title that we refer to in English as "emperor." In theory, the power of a Chinese emperor was absolute; in reality, however, he was subject to various checks on his authority by both high officials and members of the imperial family.

The Romans practiced emperor worship solely in the case of dead emperors. In addition, only certain emperors were accorded divine honors, and always after death.


In other parts of the Empire, however, local customs merged with Roman ones. In Egypt, for instance, emperor worship was practiced more widely. This was because the Roman office of emperor combined with the Egyptian notion of Pharoah-as-sun-god.


Chinese emperors were not considered divine beings. The emperor was called the "Son of Heaven" and was responsible for conducting sacrifices to both Heaven and Earth, the only forces possessing power greater than his. The word "Heaven" referred more or less to what we would call "nature": the cycles of the seasons, the succession of day and night, the motions of the stars and planets. During the first millenium BCE, the concept of the "Mandate of Heaven" was applied to the ruler: If an emperor oppressed the people, Heaven could withdraw a dynasty’s right to govern.

Expansion and Empire

By the early second century CE, Rome controlled the entire Mediterranean coastline. In the west, Roman rule extended northwards to "barbarian" territory, mostly using prominent geographic features to establish boundaries. The Roman frontier along the Danube River in northern Europe was an important example. The Danube enabled Roman ships to supply border garrisons along the river. In the east, client kingdoms such as Armenia were interspersed between Roman provinces and barbarian territory.
During the Former Han (206 BCE- CE 9), colonies were established in what later became Korea. There was also a Chinese military presence in the Red River valley of present-day northern Vietnam. In addition, the Han set up military outposts along China’s northern frontiers and in Central Asia.


The Han empire’s greatest adversaries were the nomadic Xiongnu people living along its northern frontiers. During the second century BCE, expensive military campaigns were mounted in order to control them. Chinese records tell us that hundreds of thousands of soldiers were involved.


The Germanic tribes that attacked Rome never united, but their great numbers made them difficult to assimilate into the Empire.


The Romans inherited the concept of citizenship — the idea that the state extends legal protection to certain people in exchange for taxes and other services — from the Greeks. Originally Roman citizenship was limited to those who lived in the city of Rome. It was gradually granted to subject peoples, beginning with most of Italy during the first century CE.


In 212 CE, universal citizenship was granted to all freeborn members of the Empire. By that time, however, the value of citizenship was greatly eroded. More important was the distinction between members of the upper class (honestiores) and those of the lower class (humiliores).


The concept of "citizenship" and "citizens" was a new idea imported to China from the West in the second half of the nineteenth century. It became an important topic of discussion among reformist thinkers who contrasted it to the web of family and local loyalties that had held pre-modern Chinese society together.

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Agriculture

Chinese agriculture was based on the production of crops such as wheat and rice. In Han times, state-sponsored irrigation and plows with features that would be unknown in Europe until the Middle Ages increased output. The wheelbarrow first came into use during Han. This important tool was unknown in Europe until after 1000 CE.


In order to escape heavy tax burdens, small farmers often gave their land to powerful magnates and became tenants on their estates. This happened with even greater frequency during the last century of Han rule, when famine, floods, and warfare disrupted the lives of the common people.

 

Farmers sowing seed and harvesting (Eastern Han)

In general, Roman agriculture of the same period was far less advanced than in China. Except in Egypt, irrigation was seldom employed.


Slave labor was an essential feature of Roman society and economy from the second century BCE onward. Slaves were employed in many ways. They could be menial agricultural laborers or perhaps tutors in upper-class families. Owners could even give slaves the capital to start up businesses. Slavery gave the upper classes the necessary leisure to maintain their lifestyle.


Although slavery existed in Han China, its importance was slight compared to its role in the ancient Mediterranean world.

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Trade

Trade was always considered a second-rate occupation compared to landholding, although it was practiced in all periods of Roman history. Senators, for instance, were strictly forbidden from participating in commerce, but devised ways to get around the prohibition.


Some areas specialized in the production of certain goods (Egypt had a monopoly on the production of papyrus, for instance), but most of the Empire was independent, divided into self-sufficient agricultural units.

Residence of a government official (Eastern Han)

Trade in luxuries such as silk and spices was mainly confined to providing for the elite. Silk imported across Central Asia from China was coveted by the Roman upper classes. The government’s interest in the movement of goods was confined to grain and other supplies for the city of Rome and for army units stationed throughout the Empire. The "grain dole" for the common people was an essential element of domestic policy.


In China, agriculture was called the "fundamental occupation." Trade, by contrast, was officially disparaged. Merchants amassed fortunes but were looked upon as people whose wealth enabled them to transgress social boundaries. The Han government instituted monopolies on key products such as salt and iron that impeded the growth of private enterprise.

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The Spread of Chinese and Roman Culture

Roman civilization emerged from the multicultural environment of the Italian peninsula. During the first millennium BCE, Latin was only one of the Italic languages spoken in Italy. During this time, Rome’s development was deeply influenced by the Etruscans, a highly urbanized north Italian people, and by the Greeks, who established trading colonies in southern Italy.
The multi-state system that preceded the unification of China in 221 BCE encouraged people to assert separate ethnic identities as well as to display cultural allegiance to the so-called "Central States" along the Yellow River valley in the north. This northern culture was represented by the culturally brilliant but politically and militarily insignificant Zhou kings.


In the second half of the first millennium BCE, Chinese writers showed a well-developed sense of how various groups differed from the Chinese in language and customs, how some were fully "barbarian" and others less so. One state, that of Chu in the south, was as cultured, prosperous, and powerful as any of the "Central States."


During this time groups previously considered "barbarian" gradually came to adopt Chinese values and institutions.


The establishment of military colonies throughout the empire helped spread Roman and Hellenistic culture. The Latin language was a unifying feature, at least at the bureaucratic level. Latin was especially important among people in the provinces, many of whom wished to increase their social standing by identifying with the Empire.


One of the key elements in the spread of Chinese culture was the Chinese writing system. Local peoples who learned to read and write Chinese tapped into a common elite culture regardless of the local dialect or language that they spoke.


The Han dynasty adopted Confucianism as state orthodoxy. Its values, particularly the importance attached to filial piety, helped link central government to both local elites and the common people.


In addition, the idea that human beings were part of an orderly, interconnected universe, and that good government echoed the regular workings of such a universe, cemented the notion of a single shared world — what the Chinese called "All-Under-Heaven." Although these values became widespread, they never totally replaced local beliefs based on folklore, magic, and age-old custom.


Rome was culturally pluralistic. The diverse societies that Rome colonized would eventually take part in creating the map of early medieval Europe.


Even before Rome became an empire, it began to absorb and appropriate Greek culture. Eventually Rome controlled Greece and, further afield, areas that had been under Greek cultural influence since the conquests of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE. This region was truly multicultural, many places retaining a high degree of Greek culture.


The subject peoples of Rome were widely divergent in nearly every way. Rome was, in general, tolerant of local cultures and governments. This extended even to non-Roman religious beliefs as long as their practice exhibited no disobedience toward the empire. Refusal by the early Christians, for instance, to sacrifice to the emperor or to Roman gods was considered disrespectful.

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Social Organization

The Roman elite was a landed gentry living on the income provided by their estates. They dominated society and staffed the government of the Empire.


Roman society placed a great value on loyalty both to the family and to the state: The term pietas ("dutifulness") describes these virtues. A member of the elite was constantly exhorted to be mindful of his father’s and grandfathers’ achievements and, if possible, to exceed them. At a Roman funeral, ancestors’ masks were displayed and their deeds described and praised.


Individuals could win honor only in the context of public service. During the second and first centuries BCE, most of the magistrates and members of the Senate came from the same core of noble families. These families controlled the operations of the state through the Senate.

Early Chinese thinkers divided society into four social classes: the literate elite who served as government bureaucrats, farmers, merchants, and craftsmen. The vast majority of the population were farmers.


During the Han, social prestige and political power became closely associated with Confucian values and learning. The Confucian classics became the standard for public and private behavior. Filial piety — the respect and obedience owed to parents by their children — was at the core of the Confucian value system. These values remained unchallenged until the early twentieth century.


The Han was a large empire and required a bureaucracy to govern it. Official posts were filled in a variety of ways. Although people in government service could recommend relatives for office, it was also possible for those who didn’t come from official families to obtain posts. In Confucian terms, the ideal governing class was based on merit rather than birth or wealth.

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All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

Han China & Ancient Rome
Comparing Two Classical Civilizations

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

  Comparison Time Line
 

Monarchy

 

c. 1000 BCE

Early villages occupy site of Rome.

753 BCE

Traditional date for the founding of Rome.

 

750-550 BCE

Greek colonies spread throughout the Mediterranean.

One of the main reasons for Greek expansion was trade, particularly for raw materials such as metals.

 

Early seventh century BCE

Etruscans develop an alphabet based on Greek.

The Etruscans established the first major civilization on the Italian peninsula. The Romans inherited aspects of Etruscan religion and art, as well as their alphabet.

 

Seventh to sixth century BCE

The earliest examples of the Roman alphabet date from this period.

The Roman alphabet is the most widely used writing system in the world.

 

616-510 BCE

The Etruscans rule Rome.

Eastern Zhou
770-256 BCE

771 BCE

Barbarian invasions cause the capital to be moved east.

Eastern Zhou is traditionally divided into the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. During these centuries, the power of the Zhou kings gradually diminishes and they become mere figureheads.

 

Spring and Autumn Period
722-479 BCE>

China is divided up into many small states, constantly at war with one another.

 

551-479 BCE

Master Kong (Kongfuzi, known in the west as "Confucius") lived at the end of the tumultuous Spring and Autumn period.

Confucius contrasted the political violence of the Spring and Autumn period with what he saw as a Golden Age of Chinese history: the Western Zhou dynasty, c. 1000 BCE. The rulers of that time were models of political unselfishness.

Confucius and his followers were teachers of a new class of men who arose at this time. They were the people who filled the bureaucracies needed to govern the increasingly large states that developed during the following centuries.

 

 

Republic
509-31 BCE

Ancient historians believed that the Republic began with the overthrow of the last of seven kings, an evil tyrant. The Romans replaced the last king with two elected officials who were called "consuls."

 

272 BCE

Rome becomes the major power in Italy.

 

264-241 BCE

First Punic War fought between Rome and Carthage.

Carthage was a great commercial city in North Africa. Its sphere of influence in Sicily collided with the expansion of Rome. This was the start of Rome’s empire building.

 

229 BCE

Romans establish themselves in Asia Minor.

Warring States Period
479-221 BCE

 

There are now seven large states compared to the hundreds that existed during the Spring and Autumn. It was a time of almost constant warfare that ended with one state, the Qin, unifying China in 221.

Commerce and the use of money expands. Regions connected by newly built or improved roads become economically interdependent.

During this period the major strands of Chinese philosophy — Confucian, Daoist, and Legalist — developed their ideas and argued over which body of thought could bring peace to the world.

 

Fourth century BCE

Shang Yang initiates economic and political reforms that make the state of Qin powerful.

The reforms of Shang Yang, focusing on "enriching the state and strengthening the military," would come to be called "Legalism." They involved systematic collection of taxes on agriculture and a household registration system enabling the state to mobilize the entire population for state projects. These would eventually enable Qin to unify China.

 

218-201 BCE

Second Punic War. Hannibal invades Italy by crossing the Alps.

 

202 BCE

Hannibal is defeated.

 

149-146 BCE

Third Punic War. Carthage is destroyed and North Africa becomes a Roman province.

 

146 BCE

Roman rule is extended to Greece.

 

133 BCE

Rome controls entire Mediterranean.

 

82-78 BCE

Sulla is dictator.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla won Rome’s first civil war and became dictator. His reforms strengthened the Senate and Republic.

 

58-49 BCE

Caesar conquers Gaul; invades Britain.

 

46-44 BCE

Caesar is dictator.

 

44 BCE

Julius Caesar is assassinated.

The name "Caesar" comes down to us meaning a supreme ruler: "kaiser" in German, "tsar" in Russian, "qaysar" in the Islamic world.

 

Roman Empire
31 BCE-476 CE

 

27 BCE

Octavian becomes Augustus Caesar, first emperor of Rome.

Octavian was responsible for the Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"), a period lasting from his reign to that of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 CE). His reorganization of the Empire allowed it to survive for centuries.

Virgil and Ovid, two of Rome’s greatest writers, lived during the reign of Augustus. Virgil wrote the Aeneid, the Roman national epic telling of the founding of the city. Ovid’s most famous work is the Metamorphoses, a long poem based on mythological sources.

 

Qin
221-206 BCE

 

221 BCE

Qin defeats its last rival. The King of Qin becomes "First August Emperor" upon unification of China.

During the third century Qin waged almost constant warfare with its rivals.

Its bureaucracy enabled Qin to collect taxes and mobilize large numbers of people. Qin laws excavated from a third century tomb give the impression that the state intended to micromanage the lives of its people.

 

c. 209-174 BCE

Reign of Maodun, ruler of the Xiongnu confederation.

The Xiongnu were a nomadic pastoral people living along China’s northern frontiers. During the Han, Xiongnu raids were China’s major foreign policy problem.

Western (or Former) Han
202 BCE-9 CE

 

202 BCE

Liu Bang (Han Gaozu, r. 202-195), a commoner, founds dynasty.

Qin lasted only 14 years. Its harsh laws resulted in widespread dissatisfaction and rebellion.

 

151 BCE

Xiongnu empire splits into an eastern and western horde.

 

141-87 BCE

The reign of Emperor Wu.

Emperor Wu’s aggressive policies extended Chinese influence to southern China and areas of modern day Korea and Vietnam. He sought allies and alliances in Central Asia to counter the Xiongnu. During his reign, Confucianism is adopted as state orthodoxy.

 

136 BCE

Academic posts established for scholars specializing in the Five Confucian Classics.

 

104 BCE

The Grand Inception Astronomical Reforms enable prediction of eclipses and planetary motion.

 

2 CE

Total registered population is over 57 million.

The majority of Chinese live in the north, particularly on the Yellow River plain.

Centuries of agriculture and the drainage of swampland so modify the landscape that man is now the dominant mammal on the North China Plain.

 

 

9 CE

Battle of the Teutoborg Forest.

This disastrous defeat of Roman legions in Northern Germany causes the Empire to establish its borders along the Rhine River and not push further east.

 

14

Death of Augustus.

 

c. 30

Crucifixion of Jesus.

 

43

Conquest of Britain.

 

54-68

Reign of Nero.

Nero was the fifth emperor. His name is synonymous with personal extravagance. When Nero was overthrown, rival generals put forth their own candidates for emperor, and civil war ensued.

 

64

First persecution of Christians.

 

70

Destruction of Jerusalem.

 

79

Pompeii and Herculaneum destroyed by eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

 

83-89

Conquest of lands between Upper Rhine and Danube Rivers.

 

96-180

Reigns of the Five "Good" emperors, beginning with Trajan.

 

114-117

The Empire reaches its greatest extent and remains stable for about 150 years.

 

9 CE

Wang Mang proclaims the end of Han rule and takes the throne.

Wang Mang was related to the imperial family by marriage. He rose to power by taking advantage of the inability of the imperial family to enthrone a strong emperor (of fifteen Eastern Han rulers, eight were children).

 

First century

The Yellow River overflows its banks and large parts of the north China plain are under water. This disaster contributed to Wang Mang’s fall.

 

23

Overthrow of Wang Mang.

 

25

Restoration of dynasty under Emperor Guangwu.

 

Eastern (or Later) Han
25-220

For most of the first century, the restored dynasty was politically stable and prosperous.

 

 

48

Xiongnu empire disintegrates.

 

65

First evidence of the practice of Buddhism in China.

The end of the first century marks the beginning of Han decline. Government was weakened by power struggles between officials, the families of emperor’s wives, and palace eunuchs.

 

105

The invention of paper is reported to the throne.

 

184

Yellow Turban uprising.

The Yellow Turbans were a Daoist-inspired anti-dynastic movement which rose in response to famine, epidemics, natural disasters, and the political decline of the dynasty.

 

189

Powerful families and officials unite to massacre palace eunuchs.

 

220

Abdication of last Han emperor.

The last Han emperor was a figurehead controlled by one of the military strongmen that arose during the second century.

 

235-284

More than twenty generals are raised to the throne by their troops.

This was a period of constant war and invasion.

 

251

First large-scale barbarian invasions.

Raids by Germanic peoples such as the Goths caused the Romans to pull back their frontiers.

 

284-305

Reign of Diocletian.

Diocletian reformed the military as well as the tax system that paid for it. In 286, he divided the Empire into East and West to make defense easier.

 

313

Christianity becomes the official religion under Constantine.

 

330

Capital moved to Constantinople.

 

c. 370

 

The migration of the Huns from the East pushes other tribal peoples against the Empire’s frontiers.

 

410

 

The Visigoths, under Alaric, pillage Rome.

The Visigoths attacked the Roman Empire and established kingdoms in what is modern-day France and Spain.

 

455

Rome sacked by the Vandals, a Germanic people who ruled in North Africa during the fifth century.

 

476

 

Western Empire completely controlled by barbarians.

Period of Disunion
220-589

 

Han China & Ancient Rome
Comparing Two Classical Civilizations

Curriculum Materials

"Roman in his toga

A pair of horsemen
(Eastern Han)

SUGGESTED SOURCES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Curriculum Materials
Two tigers (Western Han)

WEB SITES

The Costumer’s Manifesto. Ancient Roman Empire Costume Links.

http://costumes.org/pages/romanlnx.htm

This site lists dozens of sources on Roman dress, textiles, armor and weapons, jewelry, etc.

The Dalton School. Rome Project.

http://www.dalton.org/groups/Rome

This large site includes sections on literature, the military, archaeology, political life, geography, etc.

DIR. De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. http://www.roman-emperors.org/ De Imperatoribus Romanis means "On the Roman Emperors." This site contains biographical essays, maps, and links to other sites. It is still under construction, but will eventually be an on-line encyclopedia of all Roman rulers.

Highlands Ranch High School. Mr. Sedivy’s History Classes: Ancient Rome.

http://members.tripod.com/~mr_sedivy/rome.html

This is a world history unit on ancient Rome that includes class activities.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. Timeline of Art History.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ht/04/nc/ht04nc.htm

The timeline includes artwork from the museum’s collection.

Seattle Art Museum. Hidden Treasures: Han Dynasty Tomb Artifacts.

http://www.svam.org/Exhibits/han_artifacts/han_html/han_main.html

Part of the museum’s "Hidden Treasures Gallery," it shows various Han bronze and ceramic artifacts.

Thinkquest. Empires Past: Reference Library.

http://library.thinkquest.org/16325/infofr.html

This site presents material on ancient Egypt and the Aztecs, as well as China and Rome.

Different Roman XXX and Sandals

Roman Footwear

CURRICULUM MATERIALS

Cobblestone Publishing. 1998. "The Han Dynasty." Calliope 8, No. 5 (May/June).
Calliope is "the world history magazine for readers aged 9-14." This is a survey of the Han period that includes a project for making paper.

BOOKS

Arthur Cotterell (ed.). 1996. The Penguin Encyclopedia of Classical Civilizations. New York: Penguin Books.
Contains brief articles covering not only Greece and Rome, but also Persia, India, China, and the relations between them.

Anne Birrell. 1993. Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
These vivid and beautiful poems come as close as we can get to the life of the common people.


F.R. Cowell. 1961. Life in Ancient Rome. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group.
Brief accounts of subjects such as housing, family life, food, clothes, shops and markets, etc.


Robert B. Kebric (ed.). 2001. Roman People. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co.
A history of ancient Rome based on primary sources by famous and not-so-famous people.

Chronology of the Traditional Chinese Dynasties

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Shang or Yin c1766-1040/1045? BCE
Western Zhou 1045/1040?-771
Eastern Zhou 771-256
Spring and Autumn period 722-479
Warring States period 479-221
Qin 221-207
Former Han 202 BCE-9 CE
Xin (usurpation of
the throne by Wang Mang)
9-23 CE
Latter Han 25-220
Period of Disunion: Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties 220-589
Sui 589-618
Tang 618-907
Five Dynasties 907-960
Song Northern Song 960-1126
Southern Song 1126-1279
Yuan 1276-1368
Ming 1368-1644
Qing 1644-1911
   

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

Programs for Educators

 

Curriculum Materials From China and the World

From July 2-27, 2001, the Teach China program conducted a summer institute called China and the World. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and based at Columbia University, it brought together thirty humanities teachers from all over the United States.

The institute offered a comprehensive survey of China’s relations with the non-Chinese world from earliest times to the end of the twentieth century. Historian Morris Rossabi was the main instructor. In addition, a wide array of guest speakers gave China and the World a decidedly multi-disciplinary spin: Geography, society and culture, religion, science and technology, the visual arts, literature, and music were some of the specialized areas of focus.

Some of the attendees were inspired to write curriculum material in response to this course of study. We present several of them here and hope teachers will find them of use in the classroom.

The units are:

Han China/Ancient Rome
A Tang Newspaper

 

Acknowledgements

These materials benefited from the advice and contributions of the following educators:

  • Laurel Fulkerson (Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL)
  • Roberta Koza (Paul Robeson High School, Brooklyn, NY)
  • Florence Musiello (Ardsley School District, Ardsley, NY)
  • Conrad Schirokauer (Senior Scholars Program, Columbia University)
  • Rhoda Weinstein (consultant to the Chancellor’s District, New York City Public Schools).

Generous funding for China and the World was made available by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

A Tang Newspaper

TEACHER RESOURCES

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

 

This assignment encourages students to think critically about the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE), one of the most important and culturally brilliant periods in Chinese history. By using various sources to create a newspaper, students will bring to life the people and events of this period.

Historical Background

The Tang dynasty rose to power after China had been divided for almost four centuries, from the fall of the Han dynasty to the reunification of China by the Sui (see Chronology of the Traditional Chinese Dynasties). This period of disunion was a time when north China was ruled by non-Chinese peoples and the south was governed by refugees who had fled the north in the early fourth century.

In 589 the Sui dynasty again unified China. Their rule, however, was short lived. The heavy demands they made on the people — for example, more than a million men were called to arms in a failed attempt to conquer Korea (612) — caused widespread rebellion. This rebellion, led by aristocrats who had served the Sui and their northern predecessors, resulted in the founding of the Tang. The Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) governed China for almost three hundred years.

The Tang was an extremely cosmopolitan age, one in which China had numerous connections with the rest of the Eurasian world. People from Korea and Japan, from north Asia (modern-day Manchuria and Mongolia), Central Asia, Persia, India, and Arabia all came to the Tang capital at Changan. Even among the Chinese upper classes, there were many families of non-Chinese descent due to the different people ruling China in the Period of Disunion. One of the early Tang emperors is recorded as saying:

 

Since antiquity everyone has honored the Chinese and looked down upon barbarians; I alone love them as one. Therefore their tribes follow me like a father or mother (Holcombe 2001: 23).

Non-Chinese even served in the Tang government. During the eighth century, both a central Asian merchant and a Japanese served as high officials in what is now Vietnam. When Tang armies were defeated by Muslim forces at the battle of Talas (751), they were led by a Korean general (Holcombe 2001: 24).

The Tang dynasty is considered one of the great eras of Chinese civilization. An important feature of Tang culture was that it "drew together. . .many cultural strands from the tumultuous history of the preceding four hundred years" (Wright 1973: 1). This is true for both religion and the arts.

During the Period of Disunion (220-589 CE), Buddhism was introduced from India and gradually took root in China. The Daoist religion, China’s native faith, also flourished. Since it was a troubled era when many felt the end of the world was at hand, men and women from all levels of society sought peace and security in religion.

The Tang is considered the golden age of Chinese Buddhism. Buddhist monasteries became enormously wealthy. Both the state and wealthy individuals contributed enormous sums to build temples and monasteries. Buddhism was used to bolster the prestige of the Tang state. Some Buddhist clerics likened the emperor to the Buddha himself.

Daoist religion also spread throughout the Tang realm. The founder of the dynasty, for instance, believed himself a descendant of Laozi, the "Highest Lord" of Daoism.

Confucianism was an important part of Tang public and private life as well. It was during the Tang, particularly after the An Lushan rebellion (755-763, see below), that thinkers began to reconsider Confucian thought in ways that foreshadowed important developments in later centuries.

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Tang Art and Literature

The Tang is renowned for its poetry: The collected Tang poems amount to some 66,000 surviving works by more than two thousand poets. The period in the eighth century when Du Fu (712-770) and other poets such as Li Bo (701-763?) and Wang Wei (701?-761?) were active is called the "High Tang." It is regarded as the greatest era in the long history of Chinese verse.

The works of Tang potters and other craftsmen are famous for their vitality and elegance. Museums all over the world possess wonderful ceramic tomb figures that provide a glimpse of Tang life.

 

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The An Lushan Rebellion (755-763)

Tang culture probably reached its height with the reign of emperor Xuanzong (r. 712-756). A great patron of religion and the arts, Xuanzong also effected fiscal and military reforms directed at strengthening the state. He is best known, however, for his love of the concubine Yang Guifei. Their love affair is the most famous romance in Chinese history.

Yang Guifei’s influence over the emperor enabled her to appoint relatives to important positions at court. One of them, a non-Chinese general named An Lushan, became extremely powerful and amassed a large army. In 755 he used it to rebel against the court. The ability of a border general to threaten central rule was a result of the government’s policy of strengthening frontier defenses and allowing men such as An Lushan increasing independence. The An Lushan rebellion marked the beginning of the dynasty’s decline. An Lushan’s soldiers marched on the capital and caused Xuanzong and his court to flee. During the journey, his disgruntled soldiers forced him to execute Yang Guifei.

An Lushan was killed a few years after the rebellion began, but the warfare that he initiated continued until 763.

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The Decline and Fall of the Tang

After the An Lushan rebellion, the power of the emperor and the central government became weakened, their authority continually challenged by military governors in the provinces. This eventually caused the collapse of the dynasty.

The Tang was highly regarded for its cultural, political, and military achievements. Its decline, however, also contained an important lesson about the danger of giving too much power to the military.

After the fall of the Tang, China was politically divided for about fifty years. Although the man who founded the Song dynasty (960-1279) and reunited the country was a general, his deep dislike for the militarism that had splintered the Tang led to his establishing a government based on civil rather than military virtues.

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Important Vocabulary and Concepts

 

Civil:
Belonging to citizens, having to do with the general public. The opposite of "military" or "martial," as in the word "civilian."

 

Confucius:
This is the name given by Western missionaries to a man named Kong Qiu, who lived from 551-479 BCE. Kong Qiu was also called "Kong Fuzi" ("Master Kong"). His students (and many of the people who later followed his ideas) made up the social class that governed China right up to the beginning of the twentieth century and the fall of the last imperial dynasty in 1911.

 

Cosmopolitan:
Being of, or from, many parts of the world.

 

Daoist religion:
China’s native religion arose at the end of the Han dynasty in the late second century CE. Since earliest times, the Chinese have believed that no separation exists between everyday life and the supernatural realm of gods, ghosts, and ancestors. They think that illness and other misfortunes can be caused by spirits or ghosts. The rituals practiced by Daoist priests are the front line of protection against the supernatural realm:

The two main functions of the Daoist are exorcism and protection of the well-being and security of the mortal world against the attacks of gui [ghosts]. . . . (Thompson 1989: 99).

Daoist religion is alive and well in Taiwan and, since the 1980s, has begun to flourish openly again in parts of the People’s Republic of China.

 

Refugees:
When north China fell to non-Chinese invaders in the fourth century CE, sixty to seventy percent of the upper classes fled south.

 

Reunification:
The Sui dynasty reunified China. North and South Vietnam and East and West Germany are examples of political reunification in the twentieth century.

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Sources Cited in the Previous Section

Holcombe, Charles. 2001. The Genesis of East Asia, 221 B.C.-A.D. 907.
Honolulu: Association for Asian Studies and University of Hawai’i Press.


Thompson, Laurence G. 1989. Chinese Religion. Fourth Edition.
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.


Wright, Arthur E., and Denis Twitchett. 1973. Perspectives on the Tang.
New Haven: Yale University Press.

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

Assignment: A Tang Newspaper

You will be creating a small newspaper. The events you will be discussing take place in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), so the paper’s news items should reflect things happening during this period. However, because this is meant to be a creative assignment, you can discuss events that you imagine might have occured during the Tang dynasty. The stories you will be asked to write are explained further below.

Materials: You may use your textbooks, class notes, suggested readings, primary sources, and the Internet to find, not copy, information.

The Tang newspaper should include:

  1. A brief obituary (not less than 100 words). The person you choose can be someone influential (such as an emperor or a poet) or a character you invent (such as a government official, a soldier, a farmer, a Buddhist monk or nun, a Daoist priest or nun).

    The obituary should discuss: cause of death, the person’s accomplishments and contributions to Chinese society, personal life, surviving family members.

     

  2. Three news items (50-75 words each). Each news item needs a creative headline and should include the five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why). These may be either eyewitness accounts and/or human interest stories. Topics could include:

    • The overthrow of the Sui dynasty and the founding of the Tang
    • Empress Wu (the first — and only — woman to rule China) takes the throne
    • The monk Xuanzang returns from India and visits the emperor
    • A foreign merchant in Changan seeks to advertise in your paper
    • The romance of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei
    • The An Lushan rebellion
    • Han Yu condemns Buddhism
    • Local military leaders threaten the dynasty
  3. Two op-ed pieces (up to 150 words each) praising or criticizing the value of

    • Expanding the empire
    • Poets and wine: Should they drink it to write?
    • Allowing non-Chinese religions into China
    • How much power should the military have?

    Although your op-ed piece should express a clear pro or con opinion, you should also try to present a balanced account of the facts.

  4. Make a food, fashion, or sports page.

    • Food page. If you give a recipe, include ingredients, cooking methods, and times.
    • Fashion page. Tang fashion based on paintings, ceramics, or poetry. What would a fashion show with Tang supermodels be like?
    • Sports page. Report on a Tang dynasty polo match.

  5. Draw a cartoon depicting a newsworthy event. Stick figures are acceptable — it’s the message that counts!

Grading: Each assignment is worth 10 points for a total of 80. The other 20 points are based on creativity. A 10 point story would have a very catchy headline and the story would accurately address all 5 W’s in an innovative way. A 5 point story would not have a catchy headline and would address the facts only superficially.

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

A CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE OF THE TANG DYNASTY

Sui Dynasty (581-618)

Sixth century
The rise of the Turkic empire.
The name "Turk" refers to a number of tribal societies connected by closely related ("Turkic") languages. The modern Turkish people are the descendents of this steppe empire.


For about two centuries, a Turkic people called "Tu jue" by the Chinese were an important force in Central Asia. Originating in what is now Mongolia, their empire eventually divided into an eastern and western branch. At its height, their territory extended west as far as the Byzantine Empire. At times they controlled the Silk Road connecting China to the west.


581


Yang Jian unifies China and establishes the Sui dynasty.
The Sui engages in enormous public works projects (canals, defensive walls, two new capitals) as well as a failed attempt to conquer what is now Korea (612). The expense and loss of life involved contribute to the dynasty’s short existence.


608


First Tibetan embassy goes to the Chinese court.
Between the seventh and ninth centuries, China’s rivals for power and territory in Central Asia were the Turks and Tibetans.


605-609


The building of the Grand Canal.
The 1,200 mile Grand Canal links north and south China. It allowed grain to be transported north to supply cities and frontier garrisons.

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Tang Dynasty (618-907)

621
The armies of Li Yuan, a cousin of the second Sui emperor, gain control of the all important North China Plain. Li Yuan reigns as Gaozong, first Tang emperor.
624
Li Yuan controls both north and south China.
626
Li Yuan’s son, Li Shimin, assumes the throne.
Li Shimin murders his two brothers and forces his father to abdicate. He reigns as Emperor Taizong from 626-649. Taizong is considered one of China’s greatest rulers.
629
Pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang to India begins.
Xuanzang’s trip is inspiration for one of China’s most beloved works of fiction, Journey to the West.



630
Tang armies attack Mongolia, and the eastern Turks become vassals of the Chinese court for a half century.
645
Xuanzang returns from India.
653
Earliest surviving Tang law code written. The Tang Code not only greatly influences later Chinese law but also is an important element in the export of Chinese ideas and institutions to Korea and Japan.
659
Tang armies establish military protectorates in Central Asia by victories over the western Turks.
661-750
The Umayyad caliphate.
The Ummayyad caliphate was the first Islamic dynasty. Under its rule, Islam spread east as far as Central Asia.
666
Laozi canonized as "Most High Emperor of Mystic Origin."
670
Tibetan attacks cause the Tang to withdraw from the Tarim basin.
The Tarim basin is located in China’s modern-day Xinjiang province. The northern and southern branches of the Silk Road go through this region.
683
Wu Zhao, Emperor Gaozong’s (r. 649-683) dowager empress, becomes ruler of China.
690
Wu Zhao becomes emperor and, calling her dynasty the Zhou, reigns until 705.
During the seventh century, the civil service examinations develop further. The Tang also adopt a system of land nationalization and apportionment adjusted according to family size. Military-agricultural colonies are established to guard the northwest frontier.
692
Combined Chinese and Turkic armies retake the Tarim basin from Tibetan forces.
712-756
Reign of Xuanzong.

744-840
The Uighur empire.
The Uighurs are a Turkic people. They displace the eastern empire of the Tu jue in Mongolia. For the most part, the Uighurs maintain cordial relations with China. They provide troops to help fight the Tibetans and also help defeat the An Lushan rebellion (below).
More than 7 million Uighurs live in western China today. They trace their ethnic roots back to the Uighurs of Tang times.


751
Battle of the Talas River.
Tang troops are defeated by an Arab force. This stops the westward expansion of Chinese influence in Central Asia.
Some sources say that Chinese taken captive at this battle brought knowledge of paper manufacturing to the Islamic world.


755-763
The An Lushan rebellion almost topples the dynasty.
By the middle of the eighth century, almost half the population lives in the Yangzi valley and areas to the south. Grain from the south (wheat, barley, and rice) is transported by water to supply the capital at Changan – by this time one could go from Canton in the southeast all the way to the capital by boat, via rivers and canals. Communities of Arab, Persian, and Japanese traders help make the southeast coast important in trade.
China’s population may now be as high as 75 million. Changan, with as many as 2 million people living within its walls, is host to Arabs, Persians, Indians, Turks, Syrians, and Tibetans, as well as Koreans and Japanese.


841-845
Emperor Wuzong’s persecution of Buddhism.


At the end of the nineteenth century, a copy of a Buddhist work called the Diamond Sutra is found in Dunhuang in northwest China. Dated 868, it is the world’s oldest surviving printed text.
880
Tang capital falls to bandit-rebel Huang Zhao.

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Five Dynasties Period (907-960)

907
End of the Tang and beginning of the Five Dynasties period.
A rebel leader named Zhu Wen deposes the last Tang emperor and establishes Later Liang, first of the Five Dynasties. During this time, five regimes succeed each other in the north, and ten states coexist in the south.

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

SUGGESTED SOURCES FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

 

To help you and your students understand this material better, you may refer to the following related source materials.

WEB SITES

Art Institute of Chicago. "Deified Laozi" (Tang sculpture). From Taoism and the Arts of China.

    This page shows a Tang statue of Laozi. The whole site documents an exhibit held at the Art Institute of Chicago. It contains an introduction to Daoism, lesson plans, and a glossary.
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization.
    This site covers Buulhism and Tang calligraphy in a section entitled "The Early Imperial Period." It also provides a timeline, maps, and a teacher’s guide.
McClung Museum. Reflections of a Golden Age — Chinese Tang Pottery.
    A pictorial tour of Tang tomb figures that reflects the prosperous culture of the period.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Timeline of Art History.
    The timeline includes artwork from the museum’s collection.

CURRICULUM MATERIALS

Cobblestone Publishing. 1995. "Buulhism." Calliope 5, No. 4 (March/April).
    Calliope is "the world history magazine for readers aged 9-14." This is a general treatment of Buulhist religion that provides an introduction to its basic ideas and institutions.
Cobblestone Publishing. 1996. "Cities of the Past." Calliope 6, No. 5 (May/June).
    This issue of Calliope includes a section on Xian. In Tang times Xian was the capital city of Changan.
Reese, Lyn. 1996. The Eyes of the Empress. Women in World History Curriculum.
    This curriculum unit focuses on the career of Empress Wu, the only woman to rule China as "emperor." Eyes of the Empress is "an original story based on true accounts of a female poet and her maid. . . . Enriched with follow-up questions, activity suggestions, vocabulary."
S.P.I.C.E. 1993. Along the Silk Road. Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education.
    Tang is one part of this unit on the Silk Road.

VIDEOS

Shih, Chung-wen (producer). 1993. China’s Cosmopolitan Age: The Tang. Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
    This video is accompanied by a guide that provides background material on the Tang.

BOOKS

Benn, Charles. 2001. Daily Life in Traditional China — The Tang Dynasty. Westport, CT: The Greenwood Press.
    Based on primary sources, this volume has sections on cities and urban life, food and clothing, law, entertainment, and conceptions of death and the afterlife.
Birch, Cyril. 1989. Anthology of Chinese Literature from early times to the fourteenth century. New York: Grove Press.
    This anthology includes a translation of "A Song of Unending Sorrow," a famous poem about the love affair between Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei.
Cahill, Suzanne E. 1999. "Our Women are Acting Like Foreigner’s Wives!" Western Influences on Tang Dynasty Women’s Fashion. In Valerie Steele and John S. Major, China Chic — East Meets West. New Haven: Yale University Press.
    Cahill uses "both excavated and written materials to examine Tang women’s adoption of western dress in cultural context."

____ . 2001. "Biography of the Daoist Saint Wang Fengxian." In Susan Mann and Yu-yin Cheng (eds.), Under Confucian Eyes – Writings on Gender in Chinese History. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 17-28.
    This text tells the life story of a "renowned [Tang] Daoist nun and revered teacher."
Liu, Wu-chi, and Irving Yucheng Lo (eds.). 1990. Sunflower Splendor — Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry. Bloomington, IND: Indiana University Press.
    Sunflower Splendor contains a rich selection of Tang poetry.
All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

 

Chronology of the Traditional Chinese Dynasties

(Source: Curriculum from China and the World).

Shang or Yin c1766-1040/1045? BCE
Western Zhou 1045/1040?-771
Eastern Zhou 771-256
Spring and Autumn period 722-479
Warring States period 479-221
Qin 221-207
Former Han 202 BCE-9 CE
Xin (usurpation of
the throne by Wang Mang)
9-23 CE
Latter Han 25-220
Period of Disunion: Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties 220-589
Sui 589-618
Tang 618-907
Five Dynasties 907-960
Song Northern Song 960-1126
Southern Song 1126-1279
Yuan 1276-1368
Ming 1368-1644
Qing 1644-1911
   

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.

Programs for Educators

 

Curriculum Materials From China and the World

From July 2-27, 2001, the Teach China program conducted a summer institute called China and the World. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and based at Columbia University, it brought together thirty humanities teachers from all over the United States.

The institute offered a comprehensive survey of China’s relations with the non-Chinese world from earliest times to the end of the twentieth century. Historian Morris Rossabi was the main instructor. In addition, a wide array of guest speakers gave China and the World a decidedly multi-disciplinary spin: Geography, society and culture, religion, science and technology, the visual arts, literature, and music were some of the specialized areas of focus.

Some of the attendees were inspired to write curriculum material in response to this course of study. We present several of them here and hope teachers will find them of use in the classroom.

The units are:

Han China/Ancient Rome
A Tang Newspaper

 

Acknowledgements

These materials benefited from the advice and contributions of the following educators:

  • Laurel Fulkerson (Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL)
  • Roberta Koza (Paul Robeson High School, Brooklyn, NY)
  • Florence Musiello (Ardsley School District, Ardsley, NY)
  • Conrad Schirokauer (Senior Scholars Program, Columbia University)
  • Rhoda Weinstein (consultant to the Chancellor’s District, New York City Public Schools).

Generous funding for China and the World was made available by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

All materials © 2001 China Institute in America. All rights reserved.