59 votes
Accepted

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Chinese designed the wall to be an effective barrier; that was the goal. To answer your question, we need to ask: what land barrier stopped foreign troops the best? The answer in China, and ...
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54 votes
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Did Chinese emperors wear a rectangular hat with suspended gems?

You're describing the mian (冕), a style of classical Chinese head dress that was indeed worn by successive Emperors of China. The basic design consisted of a hat secured to the head with a red string (...
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30 votes

Did the Romans know about China?

They did know. Roman knowledge of China is attested in the Geographia, the work of the famous Claudius Ptolemy. Which is not to say, however, that the Romans knew much at all about the Han Empire (or ...
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29 votes

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

The basis for the 5,000 years figure comes from tracing Chinese "history" to the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. This figure includes over 1,000 years of legends. The next 1000 years are semi-...
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25 votes
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How did the First Emperor of Qin "burn the books" prior to the invention of paper?

The Chinese term for the Qin emperor's "burning books and burying scholars alive" is 焚書坑儒 (character by character: burn/book/bury [alive]/followers of Confucius). The character for book or ...
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20 votes
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Did the Romans know about China?

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 ...
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20 votes
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How did the ancient Chinese coordinate armies of tens and hundreds of thousands?

In Ancient China, the primary method of coordinating units were to use flags, drums and gongs. Beating drums was a signal to advance, whereas ringing gongs was an order to retreat. The use of flags ...
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20 votes

Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

The Great Wall of China: It is the longest man-made construction in the world. In the old times, it was of great military importance of preventing the enemies' intrusion and was regarded as the '...
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  • 1,894
19 votes
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Did the Great Wall of China help cause the fall of the Roman Empire?

There is very little truth to this claim, if at all. The fall of Rome is conventionally dated to A.D. 476. By then China had long been overran by steppe nomads. Since 439, the North China plains - ...
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19 votes
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In Romance of the Three Kingdoms why do people still use bamboo sticks when paper had already been invented?

Yes, this is historically accurate. Writing on bamboo slips was not entirely abandoned until the 4th century CE---over a century after the Romance of the Three Kingdoms takes place. As the Wikipedia ...
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17 votes

How were Chinese Dynasties named?

There are no specific rules, it is completely up to the founders. Many dynasties ultimately took their names from one of the ancient states of China. In any case, usually the actual choice were made ...
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17 votes
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What is the meaning of the cross on a Chinese bronze Gu Chalice?

The ➕-shaped inscription in the first image is not related to the ➕-shaped holes in the other images. Also, neither of these ➕-shapes are specific to Gū chalices, being also found in other types of ...
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  • 1,103
16 votes
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Is there any idea of why Cao Cao's parents would give him a nearly identical name to the family name?

I’m thinking I should rephrase my comment above as an answer. I believe the correct answer would be “they didn’t”, and that’s why. While the surname and name of Cao Cao almost match in modern ...
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14 votes

Did generals really fight in ancient China?

Sort of. Chinese Histories are not without records of generals who can really fight. For instance, in the Records of the Three Kingdoms (not romance), Chen Shou states "黃忠趙雲強摯壯猛 並作爪牙 其灌滕之徒歟". He ...
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14 votes

What was the standard spoken language (dialect) in the Three Kingdoms period?

中國歷代官方語言 (Wikipedia) 漢朝的汉语标准语称“正音”、“雅言”,也称“通語”,后来的“天下通语”则用来严格指汉语标准语。揚雄著書《輶軒使者絕代語釋別國方言》,“方言”即與“通語”相對。 汉代國語為“洛語”,洛語承襲先秦时代的雅言。 There was a standard Chinese dialect during the Han Dynasty and Three ...
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  • 367
13 votes
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What was the order of precedence for ancient China nobility ranks?

Neither, really. The Zhou Dynasty classed its vassals into five ranks, 公 侯 伯 子 男, which are usually translated into English as Duke, Marquis, Count, Viscount and Baron. The State of Lu held a rank of ...
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13 votes
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What is the historical evidence for asserting Huns were one and the same as Xiongnu?

As I touched in the last paragraph of this answer, we don't really know who the Huns were. Its one of the great mysteries of history, up there with the identity of the Sea Peoples. It appears the ...
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13 votes

When did Northern India and N. China begin to dominate in global demographics?

Using the delta areas as proxies for the entire river valley systems: The area of the Ganges delta (about 59,000 km2) is nearly 4 times as large as Mesopotamia (about 15,000 km2), and 3 times as ...
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12 votes

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Well, to be factual, more like 4100 years+ of history is available for study. The Xia Dynasty is dated back to c. 2100 BC - 1600 BC, and numerous sites have been found meeting these dates. Well before ...
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12 votes

What are the three major differences between the first and second silk road?

Short Answer There is support among some historians for identifying three periods of major activity along the Silk Road. Some list only two, others four (by dividing one of the three into two halves)...
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12 votes

Why did emperors of India and China have so many mistresses?

I think you're finding this odd because you are looking at it from the point of view of your own culture, and assuming that is "normal". In fact, different cultures evolved with different standards ...
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11 votes

Why have eunuchs been so influential in Chinese history?

Chinese eunuchs were the personal servants of the emperor and his household; being close and having the ear of the emperor gives you power. An eunuch could help you by putting in a good word; eunuchs ...
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10 votes
Accepted

How big were Ancient China military forces?

It depends on the location and time. Using the number of chariots to denote the size of an army is most often a Spring and Autumn practice. During this period, the traditional, ritualistic formal ...
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10 votes

Why didn't the Chinese repeating crossbow dominate?

The repeating crossbow, with its smaller and lighter ammunition, had neither the power nor the accuracy of an arbalest, however. Thus, it was not very useful against more heavily armoured troops ...
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10 votes
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Where is an image of the oracle bone that describes the nova?

There is a picture of that oracle bone in the chapter Chinese and Korean Star Maps and Catalogs by F. Richard Stephenson in the University of Chicago's History of Cartography (p514): There is also a ...
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  • 76.2k
10 votes

What does this sentence from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms mean?

The "Established Calm" refers to the jianning (建寧) era, from the first years of the reign of Emperor Ling. The actual meaning is closer to "establishing peace". The "Great ...
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9 votes

Why did non-monarchic rule meet with so little success in ancient China?

I think you are not giving the Chinese their due credit. First, interestingly enough, there was a democratic (even anarchist) social movement that tried to create egalitarian communities in ...
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9 votes

What events led to the fall of the Zhou Dynasty during the Warring States period?

@lins314159 is correct: the Eastern Zhou's fall began with the demise of the Western Zhou. Unlike its predecessor, the Eastern Zhou was never able to control its vassals. The precipitous drop in royal ...
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  • 95.8k
9 votes

How historical are early Chinese (Shang dynasty and earlier) dynastic records?

There was a project earlier called the Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project, but because it's a sensitive matter for Chinese, as well as the political situation regarding the People's Republic of china, ...
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8 votes
Accepted

What is the oldest excavated/discovered piece of silk textile made for clothing or writing?

Fundamentally, the core purpose of silk is to be be made into clothing (or later, writing material, and perhaps bedding). In this sense, what is probably the earliest silk remains, dating to about ...
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