Han China and Imperial Rome


QingYang Gong Taoist Temple, CC Attribution, Bernt Rostad
This project explores two of the major powers to appear in world history: Rome and the Han dynasty. Both empires used centralized authority to rule over vast territories and incorporate diverse peoples and cultures under its control. The empires inspired trade, connected ideas, and brought people together never witnessed in world history. Empires do have their limits; neither the Han Dynasty nor the Roman Empire was an exception. Cultures on the frontiers posed challenges and offered ideals that challenged their central authority.

Largely for the first time in Chinese history, the Han dynasty united the people of China under one rule (206 BCE to 220 CE). For much of its past, China consisted of many different tribes and diverse cultures. The Han dynasty created an alliance between the imperial family and upper class, bringing order and control to China. The Han military expanded the empire and created safe trading routes, called the Silk Road. The Silk Road connected people, cultures, and ideas between Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, and East Asia. The trade routes even connected and promoted trade between the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty. Much of the Han economy revolved around agriculture and controlling the Yellow and Yangzi rivers. Natural disasters and large military expansion eventually caused the collapse of the Han Dynasty.

Ancient Rome, CC Attribution, Eugene Regis
Rome and China are similar in many ways but strikingly different in others. At its peak, Rome controlled around 60 million people, from as far east as Spain, to as far west as Asia Minor (264 BCE-363 CE). Rome began as a city-state on the Tiber River and near the Mediterranean coast. Like China, the area around Rome consisted of diverse peoples with different cultures and ideas. Using political and military innovations, Rome slowly expanded the empire. The conquered communities provided men for the Roman army. The Romans improved trade routes, constructed harbors, canals, and roads. Over time, the empire became too large and foreign invaders started attacking Roman territory, which eventually caused its downfall.

Scenario and Task

You have just been hired by Warp Travel, a travel agency that can send its clients back in time (how cool is that?!) to experience history first-hand. As a travel agent, your job is to research tourist destinations, learn about the people, places, and events of that time, and make travel recommendations based on your client’s wants and needs.

For your first assignment, you will be given one of three tasks to complete:

Task A: Characteristics of Civilizations
Task B: The Silk Road
Task C: What Makes an Empire

Regardless of which task you are assigned, you will be responsible for conducting research, creating a visual aid, and giving a short oral presentation. Detailed instructions for each task are available from the links on the left. Good luck and enjoy your first day at work!