World Apart: China in Antiquity, 200 BC to 400 AD

  • S. A. M. Adshead


This chapter concerns China’s relationship to the outside world in the period of the Han dynasty, 206 bc to 220 ad, glancing at the pre-imperial past of the Chou and the Shang and the post-imperial future of the San-kuo and the Chin. Its argument is that though Han China shared in the common foundations of civilized humanity laid down in the early Pleistocene epoch and extended in the Neolithic, it built on them in such an original fashion and with such little contact with other centres of civilization as to constitute a world apart in a planet of separate worlds. Teilhard de Chardin saw history as spindle-shaped:1 original unity, a southern hemisphere of divergence, an equator of transition, a northern hemisphere of convergence, ultimate unity. Our story begins at the moment of maximum divergence.


Cast Iron Silk Road World History Malay Peninsula Chinese Script 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 2.
    Werner Benndorf, Das Mittelmeerbuch, quoted in Fernand Braudel, La Mediterranée et Le Monde mediterranen à l’époque de Philippe II (Librairie Armand Colin, Paris 1949) p. 187.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Karl A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism, A Comparative Study of Total Power (Yale University Press, New Haven 1957).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Ho Ping-ti, ‘The Loess and the Origins of Chinese Agriculture’, American Historical Review, vol. LXXV, no.l (October 1969) pp. 1–36.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    K. Baer, ‘Land and Water in Ancient Egypt’, paper presented to 28th International Congress of Orientalists, Canberra, 1971.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    C.S. Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress (Geoffrey Bles, London 1947) p. 154.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China Vol. I (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1954) pp. 30, 36.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Letters from a Traveller (Collins Fontana Books, London 1967) p. 57.Google Scholar
  8. 14.
    F. Alvarez Semedo, The History of That Great and Renowned Monarchy of China (John Crook, London 1655) p. 3Google Scholar
  9. Jan Nieuhof, ‘An Appendix or special Remarks taken at large out of Athanasius Kircher his Antiquities of China’, An Embassy from the East India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham Emperor of China (John Ogilby, London 1669) p. 99;Google Scholar
  10. John Francis Gemelli Careri, A Voyage Round the World, A Collection of Voyages and Travels in Six Volumes, Vol. IV (London 1745) p. 288Google Scholar
  11. Melchisedec Thevenot, ‘Desciption Geographique de L’Empire de la Chine par Le Pêre Martin Martinius’, Relations de Divers Voyages Curieux, Tome second, (Paris 1696) p. 8.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Sir Aurel Stein, On Ancient Central-Asian Tracks (Pantheon, New York 1964) pp. 19–20.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    M.J. Finley, The Ancient Economy (Chatto and Windus, London 1973) p. 137.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    Peter Levi, The Light Garden of the Angel King (Collins, London 1972) pp. 132, 256.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    E. Zurcher, The Buddhist Conquest of China (E.J. Brill, Leiden 1959) p. 62.Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    John Watson McCrindle, The Commerce and Navigation of the Erythraean Sea (Reprint in 1973 of Editions Calcutta and London 1879, 1882) pp. 132, 136, 137.Google Scholar
  17. 27.
    Paul Wheatley, The Golden Khersonese (University of Malaya Press, Kuala Lumpur 1961) p. 16.Google Scholar
  18. 28.
    H.A. Giles, The Travels of Fa-Hsien (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1959) pp. 76, 78.Google Scholar
  19. 33.
    J. Innes Miller, The Spice Trade of the Roman Empire 29BC-AD 641 (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1969).Google Scholar
  20. 48.
    C.G. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy (Routledge and Kegan Paul, London 1954) pp. 200, 307. For the history of alchemy, see Needham, op.cit., Vol. V, parts two, three and four.Google Scholar
  21. 50.
    T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy of Buddhism. A Study of the Madhyamika System (Allen and Unwin, London 1953), quoted in Max Loehr, Buddhist Thought and Imagery (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1961) p. 26.Google Scholar
  22. 51.
    Helen Dunstan, ‘The Late Ming Epidemics: A Preliminary Survey’, Ch’ing-shih Wen-t’i vol. III, no. 3 (November 1975) pp. 24 6.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© S.A.M. Adshead 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. A. M. Adshead
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations