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Could there be a possibility that some Romans knew that there was a country north east of India? Because as far as I know the Romans traded with Indians.

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I don't understand the downvote, it is a valid question, and interesting. – CsBalazsHungary Jul 9 '14 at 5:43
Some people here would downvote their own grandmother. Good question. – Ne Mo Mar 31 '15 at 10:22
The Romans had silk FYI and they knew where it came from (roughly). – Tyler Durden Oct 24 '15 at 22:21
Some days China was all Romans thought about. – Ricky Dec 10 '15 at 22:24
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Han general Ban Chao (AD 32-102) reconquered the states in the Western Regions (the modern day Tarim Basin in Xinjiang) after pushing the Xiongnu out of the region. This included the kingdoms of Kashgar, Loulan, and Khotan, which were returned to Chinese control. He also sent his emissary Gan Ying even further in order to reach Rome (Daqin). Gan Ying perhaps made it as far as the Black Sea and Roman-era Syria, but turned back. He did however bring back reports of the Roman Empire, andsw there is evidence that subsequent Roman embassies to China took place.

The first diplomatic contact between China and the West occurred with the expansion of the Roman Empire in the Middle-East during the 2nd century, the Romans gained the capability to develop shipping and trade in the Indian Ocean. The first group of people claiming to be an embassy of Romans to China is recorded in 166, sixty years after the expeditions to the west of the Chinese general Ban Chao. It came to Emperor Huan of Han China, "from Antun (Emperor Antoninus Pius), king of Daqin (Rome)". Although, as Antoninus Pius died in 161, leaving the empire to his adoptive son Marcus Aurelius (Antoninus), the convoy arrived in 166, and the both Emperor being "Antonius" the confusion arises about who sent the embassy. wikipedia

I started to deliver some of my trademark withering sarcasm, but it turns out I had to eat crow. I knew that the answer was "yes", and I assumed that a trivial google search would confirm my knowledge. It took 3 adjustments to the query and 3 pages of results before I found the above.

Here are some other sources (turns out my first search was grossly flawed)

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Withering sarcasm? And I thought that was just normal SE-type behavior! Sigh. SE considered harmful. – andy256 Jul 9 '14 at 0:04

They did know.

Roman knowledge of China is attested in the Geographia, work of the famous Claudius Ptolemy. Which is not to say, however, that the Romans knew much at all about the Han Empire (or vice versa, for that matter). For instance, Ptolemy's map of the Far East coastline is rather distorted:

enter image description here

In Chinese records, the Han Emperor first received Roman emissaries in 166 A.D.

【後漢書·列傳·西域傳】 至桓帝延熹九年,大秦王安敦遣使自日南徼外獻象牙、犀角、玳瑁

Roughly translated:

Book of the Later Han - Chronicles of the Western Realms: In the Ninth Year of Yen-Hsi in the reign of the Huan Emperor, King "Antun" (Antoninus Pius? / Marcus Aurelius Antoninus?) of the Great Qin (Tachin) sent emissaries into Nhật Nam bearing gifts of ivory, rhino horns and tortoiseshell.

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FWIW, It's highly likely that non-governmental contacts are much older. There's some evidence for Chinese silk in Egypt earlier than 1000 BC and there was active trade in silks from at least the 1st c BCE. The difficulty of travel and limited benefits kept contacts to an anecdotal level. If later history is a guide, the different polities in between East and West were probably less than helpful as well since their position as middlemen was highly profitable... for example, a Chinese envoy reportedly turned back from Mesopotamia when told he was still two years from Rome by the Parthians. – theodox Jul 9 '14 at 22:24

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