Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chinese Lived in Roman London 2000 Years ago?!

Ahoy from Amoy (historic Xiamen, China),
Ancient Chinese in Roman Cemetery of Londonium London 古代的中国人在伦敦罗马
Unearthing Ancient Roman Chinese!

Archaeologists just found 2000-year-old Chinese skeletons in a Londonium (Roman London) cemetery on Lant street, according to the Sept. 24th Daily Mail. While this has surprised lots of folks, I'm not surprised at all. If anything, I've long expected scientists to find that Chinese were everywhere on the planet much earlier than we expected. [Sept. 30 2016 update: even weirder, ancient Roman coins were just discovered in an ancient Japanese castle! Scroll to bottom].

We know Chinese have engaged in global trade for at least 4,000 years or so because they've found 3,800-year-old Caucasian Mummies on N,W, China's ancient silk road. One 6' 6" "Celtic" mummy had blue eyes and blond-hair and wore "Austrian" salt-miner twill. And I've visited 2,000-year-old underground tombs in Gansu that have colored paintings of foreigners with their light hair and hooked noses.

Ancient Chinese in Roman Cemetery of Londonium London 古代的中国人在伦敦罗马
Ancient Roman Chinese Does Look Familiar
It's generally thought the world came to China but China never went far beyond its own borders but after the discovery of 2000-year-old Chinese skeletons in ancient Roman London, we know that's not true. And it stands to reason the Chinese traveled the world. In 800 B.C., they were trading in gold and jade, and in 130 B.C., the Han Dynasty sent 10 embassies each year to central Asia (Chinese liked their horses). In 126 B.C., Zhangqian 张骞, an official, described Western nations. Most telling to me is that archaeologists have found silk in Egyptian tombs dating from 1070 BC. It's not likely anyone but Chinese made silk that early because it wasn't until 522 AD that a Nestorian monk stole the secret and Byzantium began silk production. [That's another interesting point. It's said the first Nestorian monks came to China in 635 AD with Alopen, but a monk stole silkworm eggs in 522 AD? I suspect Christians came to China in the first or 2nd century AD. St. Thomas is said to have started the church in India and afterwards went to China. Historic references from the 700s suggest Nestorian Christians were in Tibet as early as the Tibetans].

In 43 A.D., Pomponius Mela wrote that the Seres [Chinese} of Serica were "a race eminent for integrity, and well known for the trade..." (Many think that the name Serica comes from the Chinese word for silk, Si 丝.

Ancient Roman coin unearthed found discovered Japanese castleWe may never know just how early and how far Chinese traveled, but thanks to new technology like that used to identify "foreign" skeletons in ancient Londonium (Roman London), we may get a better picture.

On Sept. 28, 2016 National Public Radio reported the discovery of ancient Roman coins in an old Japanese Castle! (I have an actual Roman "widow's mite"--my most prized coin. Just holding it is an experience, knowing that it was  used by contemporaries of Christ).

I love history. In my next life I'll be an archaeologist! Indiana Bill?

Enjoy Amoy!

Dr. Bill 
Indiana Indy Bill Jones China Amoy Xiamen Fujian ancient Chinese skeletons Roman cemetery London Londonium 2000 years

School of Management, Xiamen University
Amazon eBook
"Discover Xiamen"

Bill Brown Xiamen University

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