Vestiges of China’s Early Empires

August 8, 2010

 David Frum writes about China’s Early Empires referring to Belknap’s six-volume history of Imperial China. Frum says, “There is no Chinese equivalent of the Parthenon or the Roman Forum, no Pantheon or Coliseum.  For all its overpowering continuity, China does not preserve physical remains of the past… Lewis offhandedly mentions at one point that there remains not a single surviving house or palace from Han China. There are not even ruins,” which is wrong.

I recently wrote a three-part series about Han Dynasty tombs discovered in Xuzhou, which was the location of the capital of the Han Dynasty. The tombs, which had not been destroyed or looted, are now tourist attractions. A museum was built to house artifacts that were discovered. One tomb has a living room and a bedroom before the coffin chamber.  Since the tomb was built inside a hollowed-out mountain and made of rock, it survived more than two millennia with evidence of how the Han Dynasty lived then.

In fact, I’ve toured the Ming tombs, seen the graves of heroes from the Song Dynasty near the West Lake in Hangzhou, south of Shanghai.  Also, let’s not forget that the Grand Canal, which was started five centuries before the birth of Christ and is still in use today.

In fact, the Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 with much of China’s imperial treasures.

Then, if you visit Tibet, there’s the Potala Palace, which was first built in 637 AD and is still lived in. Although much of ancient China has vanished, there are still vestiges that equal or surpass what the Roman and Greek civilizations left behind.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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