D.) military conscription could be avoided with the payment of a commutable tax, since the Eastern Han Dynasty preferred the usage of a volunteer army. The volunteer army was known as the Southern Army, and burgeoned its ranks in times of war to assist the activity of the Northern Army, which was the immobile set of soldiers deployed near the dynasty's capital. The Northern army was made up of five regiments of thousands of soldiers each, although in times of martial activity the Northern army was stratified into divisions which were then divided into regiments which colonels and majors would lead. Each regiment was split into companies headed by captains, which were comprised of platoons, the smallest cadre of troops.
The difference between the military strategy and the army's perception by the people of both the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty is fairly stark. The Roman Empire employed troops full-time, for as many as 25 years in length of service and were regarded extremely highly within the social ranks of this power. The Han Dynasty, however, frequently failed to pay its soldiers, and recruited volunteers and potentially unwilling troops (through conscription) and did a fair amount of enlisting soldiers for their military during times of actual engagements of war. The level of preparation, the quality of soldiers and their subsequent experience, was vastly different for both of these dynasties, which shows the Roman Empire's preoccupation and proficiency in the art of war, and denotes the Han Dynasty's utilitarian approach to the same art. It is no surprise, then, that the former was able to amass and maintain large amounts of intrinsically foreign territory for hundreds of years at a time, while the latter did little more than maintain its immediately surrounding areas.
Yet while the Roman Empire's legacy to posterity was largely the unification it was able to induce domestically and abroad, as exemplified by its military might, the legacy of the Han Dynasty was notably different. This Asian dynasty, which was the second imperial dynasty of China and was founded by a rebellious peasant now known as Emperor Gaozu of Han, is largely remembered as a golden era in Chinese history due to its advancements in science and technology, disciplines which may be considered, in several ways, a lot more practical and conducive to the longevity of a population than military affairs. The Han Dynasty enjoyed several developments in these fields, most notably, perhaps, in the realm of agriculture in which both wrought iron and steel were produced (the latter by means of a fining process) which were used as tools for farming purposes as well as for weaponry. Agricultural tools which were made possible by such technology included the three-legged iron seed drill, which was responsible for the planting of crops in orderly rows, as well as the moldboard iron plow, which was the most efficient way to plow since it only required a single farmer and a pair of oxen to sow (Greenberger 12). Other agricultural developments the Han Dynasty is credited for include the creation of alternating field systems, the pit field system and transplantation of methods for the production of rice, all of which greatly increased the capacity for which Chinese farmers were able to produce.
The Han Dynasty was equally advanced in areas of mathematics and engineering. In the former the Han is credited with innovating the usage of negative numbers, which were also found in Greece and in India, but which were not as widespread and have not been confirmed by accurate dates (Teresi 65). Han mathematicians also were responsible for some of the founding work employing right triangles, cubic roots, squareroots, and finding more accurate representations of Pi. In engineering, the Han Dynasty was able to make innovations in the textile industry by creating a belt drive for a quilting machine. Ding Huan, one of the foremost engineers during the Han Dynasty, invented a manually operated rotary fan which was used for air conditioning. Other engineering developments that occurred during the Han dynasty include a Theodometer cart which could measure the lengths of travel, and possibly the waterwheel, which initially appeared in Chinese literature during this same time period.
The accomplishments of the Roman Empire do not entirely consist of those related to maritime affairs, however. The lasting ideology of Christianity, and the many philosophies that have been propagated under its wide, inclusive banner, were certainly founded during the Roman Empire's tenure. Additionally, the creation of calendars with leap years were also attributed to the state of Rome during this timeframe, while the technological developments of the empire in architectural terms are unrivaled by even the Han Dynasty, which constructed the vast majority of its structural engineering pieces with timber and are subsequently difficult to find traces of today. Yet while the palace halls and multi-story residences which typified Han Dynasty construction have all but virtually disappeared, the Roman Empire's development and usage of cement can still be seen in remnants of existing structures including aqueducts and bathhouses, and more prevalently in Byzantine and modern neo-classicist architecture. Even the Roman military's efforts were not entirely pugilistic, as the complex system of roadways which they built throughout greater Europe readily indicates. Although such roads were of course constructed with the purpose of expediently transporting both troops and supplies for military encounters, their building still symbolizes a degree of refinement and civilization through one of the most enduring technologies of the time, which has benefited posterity as well as past denizens of the Roman Empire.
Despite a plethora of differences between the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty in terms of military strategy, philosophy, technology, science, and population, there are still several similarities which exist between these two powers. While the Romans made several advancements in the field of astrology, the Chinese members of the Han Dynasty helped to purvey significant developments in astronomy. Yet their primary similarity, perhaps, was in the power struggles which occurred within their home ranks as several vying authority figures (many of whom were accomplished military leaders or those with significant sway within military branches) attempted coups to usurp the power that such large, well established empires readily bring. Factionalism was the eventual downfall of the Han Dynasty, which ceased to exist in 220 A.D. once the King of Wei usurped the throne from emperor Xian. This occurrence was preceded by years of civil wars, insurrections, and rebellions from competing aristocratic members and warlords. Similarly, the final stages of the Roman Empire were typified by brutal, murderous intentions of generals and army leaders, all of whom sought political power and the ultimate dominance of the Roman Empire -- and weakened it accordingly.
Such detailed analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Roman Empire and the Han Dynasty reveals that were their an actual war between the two powers, at the height of their existences, the military-minded Romans would have likely triumphed, as they did for years against several enemies in parts of Germany and throughout greater Europe. As for which empire built the more productive civilization and had the greater effect on posterity, the prudent scholar would more than likely suggest the Han due to their scientific and technological accomplishments.
Chester G. Starr, A History of the Ancient World, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, 1974. pp. 670 -- 678.
Turchin, Peter; Adams, Jonathan M.; Hall, Thomas D (December 2006). "East-West Orientation of Historical Empires." Journal of world-systems research 12 (2): 219 -- 229. ISSN 1076 -- 156x. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
Chang, Chun-shu. (2007). The Rise of the Chinese Empire: Volume II; Frontier, Immigration, & Empire in Han China, 130 B.C. -- A.D. 157. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Greenberger, Robert. (2006). The Technology of Ancient China. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.