December 6, 2019
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Did Rome and China Ever Interact?

In the 1st century AD, the Roman Empire, and
Han China were the heavyweights of their respective regions, and were the two major superpowers
of the time. So, did these two superpowers ever interact
with each other? 2,000 years ago, as the calendars began to
shift from BC to AD, each edge of the Eurasian landmass was dominated by its own superpower. Encircling the Mediterranean Sea, in the west,
was Rome, and in East Asia was China. Now, Rome and China most certainly knew of
each other’s existence, but the way the two interacted was very indirectly. Whenever the subject was brought up, Rome
would refer to the other region as “Serica” for “land of silk”, or “Sinae”, referencing
the Qin Dynasty, and China called the other region “大秦 (dà qín)”, thinking of
Rome as the other China on the other edge of the world. The two sides did send ambassadors to each-other
on very rare occasions, but the idea of the two interacting was easier said than done. The thing to understand about Rome and China
is that Eurasia is big, and not just 10-hour flights big, I mean so big that, after crossing
deserts, climbing mountains, and encountering civilizations you don’t recognize, you realize
you’ve only barely made it to western India. The main way the two sides of the supercontinent
interacted was through the Silk Road, which was a very indirect trade network that spanned
most of Asia, from Anatolia to China, both by land and sea. This network was, if we use communication
as our analogy, more like a game of telephone than a direct call, since most merchants would
travel parts of the route, and trade goods that were more likely to just end up on the
other end. Very few ever travelled across the whole of
the network. The biggest road block to Sino-Roman relations,
though, aside from the road being super long, and there also not being much of a road, were
the empires in between them, notably Persia, which Rome was a long time rival with, no
matter which form they took at the time. China was also more isolationist throughout
some periods of its history, and (especially 1,000 years after the time period we’re
talking about) became the sort of holy grail of trade for European kingdoms. As mentioned in last week’s video, the key
thing to understanding relations between Europe and China was that China had everything Europe
wanted, and Europe had nothing China wanted. This wasn’t as true with ancient Rome, as
the west had many things that China did want, like cotton and Roman glassware. Additionally, Rome imported so much silk from
China, that many senators repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) tried to ban it within the
empire. Military technology, like the Chinese-invented
crossbow, was also traded and spread to the other empires. In a sense, the real story of Sino-Roman relations
is the story of the famous Silk Road, as it was the one thing really connecting the two
sides together. Eventually, when the Roman Empire actually
did end, and the new Ottoman Empire mostly cut off western Europe from the spice trade,
is when things got interesting on the other side of the Atlantic… Thanks for watching this video, which can
honestly be a sequel or a prequel to last week’s video (linked here), it can really
go either way, I guess. Either way, if you enjoyed it, please be sure
to give it a like, share it, and subscribe to learn something new every Sunday.

Otis Rodgers



  1. Timothy McLean Posted on April 30, 2018 at 2:13 am

    Just imagine what the world would have been like if there had been a more hospitable route between the two through, say, Scandinavia and Siberia. These titans of the ancient world might have not only mentioned each other occasionally and had trade goods end up in each others' lands, but might have actually properly interacted. They might have even have occasionally had a mutual enemy/ally!

    Of course, Europe would also be less interested in exploring the Atlantic, which would lead to the various great civilizations of the Americas having more time to advance and interact. Which, come to think of it, might have been a more interesting alternate history scenario. If the great civilizations of the Andes, Mesoamerica, the Eastern USA, etc had been able to interact more easily, if they were potential threats/allies/trade partners, if they could share their various developments…
    If we assume that climate barriers &c aren't an issue (ie, that llamas could survive in Mesoamerica), then all the greatest crops and livestock of the New World would be available to all of these groups. Llamas would meet wheels, opening great possibilities for everything from agriculture to warfare. The New world societies would be radically different by the time any Old Worlders came along. The Old World would still have an edge on the New (five big domestic mammals are better than one, and wild corn is terrible), but the field would have been more level.
    Why, yes, I am a Jared Diamond fan.

  2. ReMockz Posted on April 30, 2018 at 2:24 am

    Imagine an empire from Africa

  3. Astro Biological Posted on May 1, 2018 at 10:35 am

    You know what would be interesting to know? Why European and Asian cutlery is so different.

  4. Im a human, I think. Posted on May 5, 2018 at 3:39 am

    These videos deserve more views!

  5. dxelson Posted on May 6, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    Medieval Europe with EU flag?

  6. Michael McGregor Posted on July 3, 2018 at 10:13 am

    In 2016 a Roman cemetery used between the 2nd to 4th centuries was discovered in London's Lant Street area in Southwark which was once a suburb of the Roman settlement of Londinium. They DNA tested 22 of the skeletons and also tested them for age and they found 2 of the skeletons were of Chinese origin and they dated back to the 2nd to 4th centuries. So there was certainly close contact between the two empires.

  7. John Paul Posted on July 16, 2018 at 2:02 am

    If China and the Romans had a battle, I would think Romans would win, but at very heavy costs. What do you think?

  8. Korean Emperor Posted on October 2, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Silk Road was the most dangerous route and the majority died on the way. It would take years to travel.

  9. Dane Gregg Posted on November 4, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Why utilize the Manchu flag for the Han? That is like using the HRE flag or the Italian flag. It has nothing to do with the Han era.

  10. The Zanel Posted on November 12, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Why does he keep saying the Qing dynasty it’s supposed to be a different dynasty

  11. Coffee Succubus Posted on November 14, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    One question:

    Why Qing borders and Qing flag?…

    Could of used the Han borders.

  12. MC Kornjača OFFICIAL Posted on November 15, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Best crossover ever.

  13. Lazar Đokić Posted on November 15, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    Qing dynasty was a five hundred years after Rome

  14. Romanian Székely Posted on November 16, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    0:43 that how romanins call they carpatgian ancestors.
    In english is dacians.

  15. Seth Leoric 2 Posted on November 18, 2018 at 3:48 am

    I remember spending 12 hours straight just watchig movies and downloaded videos on my 1st trip to canada a few months ago

  16. AwesomeShite Posted on November 19, 2018 at 4:48 am

    The Ottoman Empire was setup at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  17. Justice Warrior Posted on November 19, 2018 at 5:48 am

    Holly shit what???
    I Always thought they had no idea they both existed!

  18. Jules Brags Posted on November 21, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Just imagine if Julius Ceasar wasn't killed by the damned senators and managed to continue his campaign and kickass in the severely weakened Parthian empire due to internal struggles, and managed to interact with the Chinese, that would have been awesome. The cultural and information exchange between those two. With each other having their own scientific feats and marvelous engineering and mathematical breakthroughs, humanity would have gone far beyond than what we are today.

    But no, Brutus fucked it up.

  19. Austin W Posted on November 21, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    There was that one time the Byzantine sent monks to steal silk worms from China and it worked

  20. Alex Miller Posted on November 22, 2018 at 4:49 am

    Do you have links to evidence of this?

  21. Michael Tkaczevski Posted on November 22, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Wait, so the Romans colonized America??

  22. Dani de Janeiro Posted on November 23, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Hey thanks for the cool video…..but…like……, I mean….we all could have guessed there was trade between the two empires because we've all heard of silk and its road. But I think a more interesting answer to the question of interaction could be found in your throw-away comment the two sides did send ambassadors to each other on very rare occasions. I think that's what we were all waiting to hear about.

  23. Конрад Дюселдорф Posted on November 23, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, they did. Here, i just saved you from watching this Dunning-Kruger bitch.

  24. Angel TheKidd290 Posted on November 24, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    The Chinese gave them crossbows in India

  25. TylerNguyen1 Posted on November 25, 2018 at 9:36 am

    0:57 “and Eurasia is BIG.” *zooms in to Iran*. Why Iran, tho?

  26. Mr. Karl McYoda Posted on November 27, 2018 at 7:31 am

    No, the roman empire never interacted with the qing dinasty

    Everyone that says so is a liar

  27. Farshid Mon Posted on November 27, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    I unliked the video as you only shortly mentioned Empire of Iran. After the mithradatic(Iranian ruler of Anatolia and Crimea) wars -63BCE-, the Roman Republic which soon changed to Roman Empire came in contact with Iran under Parthian Dynasty. Since then the Rome constantly tried to invade and subjugate Iran and Iran did the the same to Rome. The struggle continued until first half of the 7th century, when both Roman(Byzantine) and Iranian(Sassanid) empire crumbled during the Arab invasion. To the east Iran was in direct contact with China after Tang dynasty annexed Kucha(modern Xinjiang). The Empire of Iran stretched from transoxiana to Mesopotamia, from Indus to Caucasus and beyond, from Caspian sea to Yemen. At its zenith under Khosro II(ca 600AD) Iran annexed all syria, egypt, Palestine, Anatolia, while Iran's subjects Alans annexed Thrace. So Empire of Iran was also a super power during the whole period as neither Rome nor China nor barbarian tribes(Turks, Scythe, Avar, Alan, …) Could defeat it and infact they lost many battles against her. Many of the roman Emperors like Valerianus, Philip the Arab, Julian the Apostate, Gordianus etc as well as major figures such as Crassus, were either killed or arrested by Iran. So plz stop your eurocentric point of view.

  28. Wilhelm Thomsen Posted on November 29, 2018 at 9:06 pm

    did you say train network

  29. Грегорий Posted on November 29, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Not directly; traders made their way to both.

  30. James Moon Posted on November 30, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Hey asshole Han China never controlled the Korean Peninsula fix your map.

  31. MrGuidoune Posted on November 30, 2018 at 6:50 pm

    720p but horrible image quality? Sorry but that was unbearable to watch

  32. ID k Posted on November 30, 2018 at 11:56 pm

    Qing dynasty? 200 years after rome?? EU flag when talking about medieval europe???

  33. Christopher Ellis Posted on December 1, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, Rome exported the abacus.

  34. Fedor Russel Posted on December 1, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    Top 10 anime crossovers

  35. no thanks Posted on December 2, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Did meso America met the old world?

  36. Chaz Baz Posted on December 2, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Like if you live in the old Roman Empire.

  37. PH7 Posted on December 3, 2018 at 9:47 am

    S.P.R.K warriors| Empires| Slaves |divide and conquer

  38. Dan Schwartz Posted on December 4, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    >> As the calendars began their shift from BC to AD
    Well, no one ever said they were living x years BC, because people don't count dates backward from some point in the future. OK, Romans DID count dates backward in DAYS from the start of the next month (the kalends, which gave us the word calendar) or other upcoming special days of the month (the Nones or Ides), but that's another story. Even AD dates weren't used until centuries after the year we now call 1 AD.

  39. Danny Qin Posted on December 5, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    They did, so I could easily have Roman blood in me

  40. EASYTIGER10 Posted on December 9, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    I think Persia may have something to say about Rome and China being the only superpowers!

  41. guitarhamster Posted on December 13, 2018 at 6:21 pm

    China could have destroyed all the white countries. Hope it will happen eventually

  42. 日月漢明 Posted on December 14, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Manchu stole the yellow dragon from China and made it their flag…

  43. TRIGGERED LIL CROOKED FURRIES Posted on December 16, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    Uhmm silk road ?!

  44. InfernoSlayer Posted on December 17, 2018 at 2:57 am

    1:57 what does a bureaucratic nuisance like the EU have to do with Europe, the continent?

  45. Darkhorsearmor Posted on December 20, 2018 at 5:30 am

    (Sees the use of the EU flag for midis all Europe)
    Me: Treachery!

  46. Help save earth Posted on December 23, 2018 at 12:21 am

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ( ͡⊙ ͜ʖ ͡⊙) ( ͡◉ ͜ʖ ͡◉)

    this took 5 minutes

  47. Cyrus The Great Posted on December 23, 2018 at 5:07 am

    Romans never came in direct contact with Chinese.

  48. Arc66 Posted on December 23, 2018 at 10:15 am

    To be fair, if it wasn't for the ottoman empire sacking Constantinople, the Renaissance would have been delayed by a couple of decades (or centuries) or might just have never happened, who knows.

  49. matthew mann Posted on December 23, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Indeed they did

  50. Yifan Wang Posted on December 23, 2018 at 3:05 pm


  51. GabiN64 Posted on December 23, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    The equivalent of this in our modern time would be hearing rumors of another intelligent species out in space.

  52. Steven Kravitz Posted on December 26, 2018 at 5:14 am

    Stop using the map of Qing China to represent Han

  53. Melody Abrogar Posted on February 23, 2019 at 9:07 am

    It would the real "biggest crossover event in history!"

  54. Hair Flick Posted on June 6, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Merkin wanker

  55. aa aa Posted on June 26, 2019 at 1:54 am

    EU flag is considered offensive to a lot of europeans. I would consider removing it.

  56. Primus Productions Posted on July 1, 2019 at 2:54 am

    Most anachronistic thumbnail.