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 ...
54 votes
Accepted

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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25 votes
Accepted

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
Accepted

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 ...
  • 96.5k
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 '...
  • 1,904
19 votes
Accepted

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 - ...
  • 96.5k
19 votes
Accepted

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
Accepted

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 ...
  • 1,102
16 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
  • 367
13 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 113k
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 ...
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 ...
  • 113k
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

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
Accepted

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 ...
  • 76.8k
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 ...
  • 1,744
8 votes

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

I like @Semaphore 's answer above. I'd like to clarify a little: What kind of history are you asking about? There is an important distinction between recorded history and pre-history. Generally ...
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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8 votes
Accepted

What are the best resources for studying oracle bone inscriptions?

I don't know how useful this will be to you but hopefully these links will at least lead you to what you are looking for. The British Library has more than 450 oracle bones and there are some links ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Why was the Records of the Three Kingdoms composed before that of the Later Han?

The short answer is, the historical list (i.e. the image in the question) provided with the year-stamp is not really showing the chronology properly. The key point is Chen Shou's Records of the Three ...
  • 6,275
7 votes
Accepted

Are fiefdoms near the Capital assigned to trusted allies or the opposite, and why?

It would be incorrect to say, ' ... China and Japan used a completely opposite rationale in assigning the fiefdoms and were both well chosen for the country'. It did happen this way but for the ...
  • 6,275
7 votes
Accepted

Do indigenous Latin Americans share any common "recent" ancestors with the Chinese?

The basic answer is no. There is no better connection between the people of the Americas and the Chinese people than there is for any other groups of humans on the planet. Probably the best way to ...
  • 113k
6 votes

Did generals really fight in ancient China?

It is not so long ago that Jean Lannes, Duc de Montebello, inspired his troops into the breach once more at the Siege of Ratisbon by grabbing a scaling ladder and exclaiming I was a grenadier ...
6 votes

Were there ever Taoist missionaries?

Taoism gained much popularity by the end of the Southern Song period. When the Mongol Empire started invading, they had the habit of massacring the whole population after a city was sacked. Taoist ...
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