Comparing The Chinese Han and the Persian Achaemenid Empire

Comparing The Chinese Han
and the Persian Achaemenid Empire
In some aspects, the Persian empire and Han China were surprisingly similar in their methods of ruling; however, differences are found between these two societies. In the areas of leadership, social organization, economic foundation, religion, public works, and government, connections can be found between Han and the Archaemenid empire as well as inconsistencies.
Conclusions that can be made
Leadership in Persia had a lot less influence in the daily lives of their citizens than the Chinese. Persian leaders focused more on war and trade, which since China was much more closed off from the rest of the world was much less of an issue.
Religion in Persia was a lot more free-flowing and people had much more choice in their worship than in China. This was primarily because Persia was an empire that was built from a collection of smaller civilizations and therefor were required to be more tolerant of the diversity of the citizens than in China. China was built from smaller civilizations as well, but the variety of religions and philosophies was much smaller.
Public Works and infrastructure were one of the places where Han China and Persia showed striking similarities. Both had emphasis on building roads and canals, the roads for distribution of goods and canals for fresh water, though the Persians used the roads for external trade where as the Chinese used them for internal movement.
Socially the main difference between Persia and Han China was their treatment of women. In Persia women could function and financially independent entities from their husbands and or other men which gave them a degree of freedom unseen in other cultures of the era
Both China and Persia had a heavily trade based economies, Persia gained trade power mainly by owning the places of trade and through this being ale to control a large portion of the goods. China was the primary source of goods along the silk road, providing silk (obviously), iron, paper, and a variety of other goods.
In government structure, they were also very similar. They had a king/emperor as the head of their government, the land was broken up into provinces/ satrapes, and also had officials controlling these individual provinces, with spies among the people to put down insurgency.
Social organization and Norms
Economic Foundations
Han Dunasty
Liu Bang
Han Wudi
Wang Mang
Had a good network policy that was effective, and controlled of the the developments of his policies
He sent his officers to other provinces to implement his policies and maintain order
He levied taxes on agricultural goods, trade and many more
Imperial expansion
A socialist emperor,
land distribution system
Everything is owned by the empire
Archaemenid Empire
Launched the Persian Imperial venture
Founded Persia after he conquered the Median Kingdom and uniting the Medes and the Persians
Sophisticated cultural traditions
Started the attack on Greece
Centralized his administration
Empire depended on finely balanced central initiative and local administration
Public Works/Infastructure
Han Dynasty
Achaemenid Empire
• Built roads and canals
- These means for movement facilitated trade
• To finance the building Han Wudi levied taxes on agriculture, trade and craft industries (Traditions and Encounters 160)
• Built roads such as the famous Royal Road
• Government organized postal stations (111 total)
• Also improved existing routes between Mesopotamia and Egypt
• Buildings of canals
- New roads linking Persia with India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt (Traditions and Encounters 135)
- Stretched 2,575 km from Aegean to Sardis through Mesopotamia
Government structure
Han Dynasty:
Acheamenid Empire:
o Split their government into 30 provinces
o Governor (Applied ides of the king), Military commander (Keep control)
o Had harsh laws that kept their citizens in line
o Had a vast army that threatened all rebellion and reinforced Hans control
o Strong centralized government, rejected feudalism
o Split their land into stratapies, this was an easier way of keeping control because they were smaller areas of control
o Had Imperial “spy’s” to make sure no satrapies turned independent on Persia
o Standardized coinage was established along with taxation
Had a capitol, Persepolis which was a place of political power and a flurishing cultural center
o Let every citizen still practice any religion and keep their cultural values (Civic code)
o Each satrapise had to pay the Persian Empire a certain amount at an increment of time on a continuous scale.
o Each satrapies contained a governor, and military commander
Achaemenid Empire
Han Dynasty
• More than 70 different ethnic groups were accepted
under the rule of Darius (traditions and encounters
• Ruled of people who spoke many
different languages
• Many cultural and religious
traditions were observed
• The Achaemenids needed to establish lines of
communication with all parts of their realm (traditions
and Encounters 134)
- This allowed them to tax and administer their
• Forced a legalist government
structure onto the people
• With use of Confucian education structure to
educate future bureaucrats (Traditions and Encounters
The rulers under Han considered all Chinese the same and unified
Sought to remove all "non-Chinese"