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



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.


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Copyright information

© S. A. M. Adshead 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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