Introduction and Task

Interior of the Colosseum in Rome, CC Attribution, Argenberg
civilizations and empires have a system whereby classes are organized into a social structure. Different jobs and social levels determined the type of status citizens had in their communities. Social structures are often broken down into an upper, middle, and lower social class. However, in both the Roman Empire and Han Dynasty, the social structures were far more complex than upper, middle, and lower class.

Your client, Paris Hyatt, is a reporter for Gossip Magazine and interested in the social system in Han Dynasty China and Imperial Rome. Ms. Hyatt lives in a gated community far from the city, supports several local charities, and is addicted to watching the E! channel. To help Ms. Hyatt decide which empire she should travel back in time to visit, you'll need to research the role of social structures in both dynasties, noting how they were alike and different, and present your key findings on the following questions:

Key Questions
  1. How were the social structures broken down in the Han Dynasty and Roman Empire
  2. Describe and explain the types of jobs within each social structure?
  3. What was life like in each social class? Describe the family life? Could people move from one social class to the next very easily?
  4. How were women and slaves treated in the Han Dynasty and Roman Empire?
  5. What was education like for all people in the Han Dynasty and Roman Empire?
  6. Which empire should Ms. Hyatt, a reporter for Gossip Magazine, visit? Why?

The answers to these questions will culminate in a travel poster and oral presentation. The poster should persuade prospective tourists and include the following components:

Travel Poster Components
  1. One poster for each dynasty
  2. At least three "must see" tourist features with detailed text and relevant images
  3. At least one audio recording

The presentation is your opportunity to explain whether your client should visit Han China or the Roman Empire and should follow these guidelines:

Oral Presentation Guidelines
  1. Less than three minutes in length
  2. Should address/explain the "must see" features of each dynasty
  3. Should explain which destination the client should visit and why


Before you begin the research process, read the following brief overviews from Wikipedia to get a sense of the social structure in Han China and Imperial Rome:

Han China Social Structure
In the hierarchical social order, the emperor was at the apex of Han society and government. However the emperor was often a minor, ruled over by a regent such as the empress dowager or one of her male relatives.[90] Ranked immediately below the emperor were the kings who were of the same Liu family clan.[91] The rest of society, including nobles lower than kings and all commoners excluding slaves belonged to one of twenty ranks (ershi gongcheng 二十公乘).
Each successive rank gave its holder greater pensions and legal privileges. The highest rank, of full marquess, came with a state pension and a territorial fiefdom. Holders of the rank immediately below, that of ordinary marquess, received a pension, but had no territorial rule.[93] Officials who served in government belonged to the wider commoner social class and were ranked just below nobles in social prestige. The highest government officials could be enfeoffed as marquesses.[94] By the Eastern Han period, local elites of unattached scholars, teachers, students, and government officials began to identify themselves as members of a larger, nationwide gentry class with shared similar values and a commitment to mainstream scholarship.[95] When the government became noticeably corrupt in mid-to-late Eastern Han, many gentrymen even considered the cultivation of morally grounded personal relationships more important than serving in public office.[96]

Roman Social Structure
The center of the early social structure, dating from the time of the agricultural tribal city state, was the family, which was not only marked by blood relations but also by the legally constructed relation of patria potestas. The Pater familias was the absolute head of the family; he was the master over his wife (if she was given to him sub manu, otherwise the father of wife retained patria potestas), his children, the wives of his sons (again if married sub manu which became rarer towards the end of the Republic), the nephews, the slaves and the freedmen (liberated slaves, the first generation still legally inferior to the freeborn), disposing of them and of their goods at will, even having them put to death. Roman law recognized only patrician families as legal entities.

Slavery and slaves were part of the social order. The slaves were mostly prisoners of war. There were slave markets where they could be bought and sold. Roman law was not consistent about the status of slaves, except that they were considered like any other moveable property. Many slaves were freed by the masters for fine services rendered; some slaves could save money to buy their freedom. Generally mutilation and murder of slaves was prohibited by legislation, although outrageous cruelty continued.

Apart from these families (called gentes) and the slaves (legally objects, mancipia i.e. "kept in the [master's] hand") there were Plebeians that did not exist from a legal perspective. They had no legal capacity and were not able to make contracts, even though they were not slaves. To deal with this problem, the so-called clientela was created. By this institution, a plebeian joined the family of a patrician (in a legal sense) and could close contracts by mediation of his patrician pater familias. Everything the plebeian possessed or acquired legally belonged to the gens. He was not allowed to form his own gens.

The Research Process

Deciding which dynasty your client would be most interested in visiting may seem like a complicated task, but the Big6 can help you organize your research efforts. As you work through the assignment, keep each of the following steps in mind. If you need help, simply follow the hyperlink for more information:

Step 1: Task Definition
Step 2: Information Seeking Strategies
Step 3: Location and Access
Step 4: Use of Information
Step 5: Synthesis
Step 6: Evaluation

Project Workspace

Each student researching this topic will have a project workspace for documenting his/her research and posting the travel poster. All work related to the project should be maintained there:

Social Student Template DO NOT EDIT THIS PAGE
Dalton H
Lawrence T
Ian F
Jack L
Sarah S
Alexa R
Angelica M
Aleezay R
Matthew B
Sam F
Emerson R