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Date: Sat, 30 Dec 1995 14:59:56 -0800
Sender: H-Net list for Asian History and Culture <H-ASIA@msu.edu>
From: Frank Conlon <conlon@u.washington.edu>
Subject: H-ASIA: Comparative history - Han and Roman Empire
Comparative history - Han and Roman Empire
From: Weber42164@aol.com

Comparative history - Han and Roman Empire

By Tony Carnes,
30 December 1995

In a message dated 95-12-10 13:29:49 EST, you write: are there any comparative histories of Rome and Han Dynasty?

Frederick Teggart wrote a book comparing the unanticipated consequences of Roman and Han foreign policy upon the Roman Empire. Essentially, he argued that the Romans and Han kept pushing tribes in Central Asia back and forth between them. To escape the Roman and Han military pressure the tribes pushed into the territory of tribes to the north, and in a cascading domino fashion tribal pushing went all the way to the German and Hungarian area frontiers precipitating the invasions of Roman and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Later I read a posting on Toynbee's coverage of Rome and China. Interestingly, Toynbee explicitly acknowledges Teggart's theory of social change (intrusions undermine customs and demand a response, either a rejection of change or a creative synthesis) as the inspiration of his A Study of History after vol 2.

Teggart believed that Roman and Han Chinese military pressure on Central Asian tribes created migrations that intruded upon Rome and China. Rome was not able to respond creatively enough and fell. Teggart criticized Owen Lattimore for proposing that barbarian invasions and dynastic change in China were results of some sort of life cycle on the frontiers of China. Rather, Teggart emphasized the role of events, i.e. intrusions of migrating peoples further West, on the borders of China.

Tony Carnes
International Research Institute on Values Changes & Columbia University

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