Themes and questions serve as a framework for pointing out differences between cases, and emphasis is put on the historical integrity of each case and on the importance of specific historical configurations relative to the predictions of ideal types and theoretical models.
2,000 years ago, up to one-half of the human species was contained within two political systems, the Roman empire in western Eurasia (centered on the Mediterranean Sea) and the Han empire in eastern Eurasia (centered on the Central Plain of northern ).
At no time since has such a large proportion of humankind been ruled by two governments.
BCE) and by the creation of the Persian empire (6th c. BCE, the Mediterranean had come to consist of five principal warring states () and an otherwise largely tribal periphery.
BCE), and was subsequently accelerated by the conquests of Alexander the Great (334-330 BCE), followed by the creation of Hellenistic successor states to the Persian empire (3rd to 1st c. In a fairly short amount of time, one of these states, Rome, achieved de facto unification, first by establishing hegemony (202 to 189 BCE) and then by gradual direct conquest (148 to 30 BCE), with concurrent as well as subsequent expansion into the tribal periphery (225 BCE to 180 CE).
60 million each), and even largely coextensive in chronological terms (221 BC to 220 CE for the Qin/Han empire, c.
200 BC to 395 CE for the unified In the Mediterranean, unification had initially been facilitated by Hellenization via colonization (8th to 5th c.Both empires were broadly comparable in terms of size (c.4 million square kilometers each) and population (c.Our project centers on a number of interrelated questions (see below).In addressing these questions, we will rely in the first instance on analytical comparisons ( & Somers second type) in order to identify variables that are critical to particular outcomes.Recent macro-historical work has highlighted independent parallel movements of socio-cultural evolution in different parts of the globe (Diamond 1998).More specifically, historians of the more recent past are showing great interest in comparative assessments of Europe and 2000).By contrast, the comparative history of the largest agrarian empires of antiquity has attracted no attention at all.This deficit is only explicable with reference to academic specialization and language barriers.Systematic comparisons between different imperial systems need to be grounded in appropriate methodological premises.Recent surveys of comparative historical studies allow us to distinguish between different ideal types of comparative approaches.