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Han China Territory

    The Han Government had a relatively standard territory to control (other than Han Wu-ti’s expansion westward form Chinese Turkestna into Russian Turkestan, eastward toward Korea and southward toward Vietnam, there was few major changes in territory).  (See map below.)  The most military draining part of the Han Dynasty was to protect the Silk Road and honor the Pax Sinica (whose counterpart was Pax Romana) and to suppress the attacks of northern Turkish speaking people.  (This was a treaty to make the Silk Road a safe place to travel along, although there were some parts that were controlled by the Parthians (and therefor unsafe).)  Gold and Silk were valuable commodities in ancient times. Because China had a total monopoly on the Silk production, it was their most desired export (along with skins, iron, lacquer and spices). Silk was a form of currency because it was highly valued and often more valuable than gold (especially when dyed purple) (there are pictures of Chinese coins at this website).  In 301 Emperor Diocletian's "Edict on Maximum Prices" said raw white silk was worth one forth its weight in gold, raw silk dyed purple was worth three times it's weight in gold.  Because of the high demand and small supply of silk, silk was highly valued and bolts of silk were often given as state gifts.  Women's clothing in Rome provided a high demand for silk, to the dismay of some Roman moralists.  The Roman leader and philosopher Scena once said “I see garments in which there is nothing to cover either the wearers body or her shame” (on silk) (World History, volume one (Fourth Edition), Upsher, Terry, Holoka, Goff, and Cassar, Wadsworth Group, ©2002, pages 163-165.)

    The silk road was the best and fastest way to travel form Rome to China.  Both Empires spent large amounts of military forces to protect this road and make it safe for travel.  The silk road was greatest form 300 BCE to 300 CE (the approximate time of the Han Dynasty).  During this time, the large Empires (Han China, The Roman Empire, Kushan, Mauryan, and Hellenistic) provided a safe route for traders to travel and encouraged long distance trade.  The silk road did not only provide a route for traders to travel along, it provided a route for religions to spread.  For example, Buddhism spread (partly) along the silk road into and through China.

Han China Map

Han China map according to book

(World History, volume one (Fourth Edition), Upsher, Terry, Holoka, Goff, and Cassar, Wadsworth Group, ©2002, page 165)