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The Lost Legion of Carrhae: Adakah Legion Rom berakhir di China?

The Lost Legion of Carrhae: Adakah Legion Rom berakhir di China?



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Rom dan China adalah dua peradaban utama yang membentuk budaya dalam lingkungan pengaruh mereka. Mereka juga budaya yang nampaknya sebagian besar terpisah antara satu sama lain. Atas sebab ini, sebarang hubungan antara budaya menarik minat para sejarawan sejak para sarjana Barat mula mempelajari China dan para sarjana Cina mula mempelajari Barat. Ini termasuk kisah seperti legenda Carrhae yang hilang, yang anggotanya mungkin berakhir di Liqian, China.

The Legend of the Lost Legion of Carrhae

Legenda bermula pada tahun 53 SM dengan Pertempuran Carrhae antara jeneral Rom Marcus Licinius Crassus dan jeneral Parthian Surena. Carrhae adalah lokasi berhampiran sempadan Syria-Turki moden. Pada zaman dahulu, ia berada di pinggiran Empayar Rom di barat dan Empayar Parthian di timur.

Crassus sudah menjadi salah satu orang terkaya di republik Rom, tetapi dia mempunyai keinginan untuk mengakses kekayaan Parthia, jadi dia meyakinkan Senat untuk membiarkannya memimpin 42,000 askar Rom ke medan perang melawan orang Parthia. Dalam pertempuran itu, Crassus dan tenteranya mengalami kekalahan memalukan di tangan Surena dan 10,000 pemanahnya. Crassus cuba merundingkan gencatan senjata tetapi terbunuh dalam proses itu. Menurut legenda, emas cair dituangkan ke kerongkongnya sebagai hukuman atas keserakahannya. Dia juga didakwa dipenggal, dan badannya dinodai.

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Bust of Marcus Licinius Crassus yang terletak di Louvre, Paris. ( Domain awam )

Dari tentera Rom yang masih hidup, 10,000 dari mereka ditangkap hidup-hidup oleh orang Parthians. Menurut beberapa akaun, mereka dipindahkan ke sempadan timur Empayar Parthian. Dipercayai bahawa mereka kemungkinan besar dikirim ke wilayah yang sekarang bernama Turkmenistan. Merupakan kebiasaan Parthian untuk menghantar tawanan perang yang ditangkap di barat ke timur jauh untuk menjamin kesetiaan mereka terhadap pesaing timur mereka, Hun.

17 tahun kemudian, pada tahun 36 SM, di sempadan barat Empayar Cina Han, pertempuran Zhizhi diadakan antara orang Cina dan Hun, musuh klasik China. Orang-orang Cina mencatatkan tentera upahan yang bertempur di sisi Hun yang menggunakan formasi "skala ikan". Pembentukan skala ikan mengagumkan orang Cina dan mereka mengundang tentera untuk kembali ke China dan menjadi sebahagian daripada pengawal sempadan di wilayah Gansu moden. Sebuah kota dan daerah juga dibuat untuk mereka yang diberi nama Li-Jien atau Liqian.

Pembentukan testudo. (Neil Carey / CC BY SA 2.0)

The Lost Legion of Carrhae dan Tentera Misteri

Huraian Cina mengenai pembentukan skala ikan yang digunakan oleh tentera upahan mempunyai kemiripan samar-samar dengan testudo pembentukan yang diamalkan oleh pasukan tentera Rom. Ini membawa kepada teori popular bahawa tentera misteri ini sebenarnya diasingkan dari pasukan perang Rom dari Pertempuran Carrhae yang telah mengupah diri mereka sebagai tentera upahan untuk kaum Hun.

Idea ini pertama kali dicadangkan oleh sejarawan Homer Dubs. Dubs berpendapat bahawa beberapa tentera yang diasingkan menyerah untuk kembali ke Rom dan mengupah diri mereka sebagai tentera upahan untuk panglima perang tempatan di wilayah itu. Sebilangan bekas tentera Rom ini mungkin mendapati diri mereka bekerja untuk kaum Hun dalam perang mereka melawan orang Cina.

Penyokong teori ini telah mencari Liqian dan percaya bahawa mereka telah menjumpainya. Zhelaizhai adalah sebuah kampung moden berhampiran Lanzhou. Apa yang menarik tentang bandar ini adalah bahawa penduduk yang tinggal di sana mempunyai ciri-ciri seperti rambut coklat dan mata biru, yang berbeza dengan penampilan kebanyakan orang di sekitarnya. Selain itu, topi keledar dilaporkan dijumpai dengan huruf Cina yang tertulis di atasnya yang mengatakan, "salah satu yang menyerah." Dua artifak menarik yang lain adalah periuk air gaya Rom, dan batang kayu dengan tiang yang serupa dengan yang digunakan oleh orang Rom untuk membina kubu. Kemunculan penduduk kampung dan penemuan artifak yang tidak biasa telah menyebabkan banyak penganut legenda mengenali Zhelaizhai dengan Liqian. Oleh kerana legenda ini telah dipopulerkan, kota ini telah menggunakannya untuk menarik pelancong, bahkan membangun bangunan dan patung gaya Rom.

Penilaian Fakta

Adakah mungkin penduduk kampung yang tidak biasa itu adalah keturunan Rom yang terlantar? Ini telah menarik minat saintis Cina dan Barat. Kajian genetik dari University of Lanzhou menunjukkan bahawa penduduk bandar itu mempunyai hubungan dengan Eropah, yang menjadikan teori ini lebih masuk akal, walaupun benar juga bahawa bandar ini dibina di sepanjang Jalan Sutera lama sehingga hubungan dengan penduduk barat lebih banyak mungkin tidak kira sama ada mereka orang Rom. Hubungan lain yang diperhatikan adalah bahawa nama "Li-Jien" terdengar seperti "legiun" ketika dituturkan dalam bahasa Cina. Ada yang menggunakan ini untuk berpendapat bahawa nama asalnya berasal dari kata.

Sebaliknya, banyak sarjana ragu-ragu mengenai kemungkinan hipotesis tersebut. Walaupun ada kemungkinan sekelompok tentera upahan Rom berjaya sampai ke China barat, jaraknya sangat jauh. Dan, walaupun ada bukti yang tidak langsung, tidak ada bukti yang dapat membuktikan bahawa orang Rom pernah berada di Liqian pada masa lalu.

Perwakilan moden tentera Rom. (CC0)

Pot gaya Rom dapat diperoleh melalui perdagangan, dan artifak lain bukan unik Rom. Juga, penampilan fizikal dan hubungan genetik penduduk kampung tidak memerlukan keturunan mereka secara langsung dari orang-orang Mediterranean, kerana terdapat banyak etnik Asia tengah yang juga mempunyai hubungan genetik dengan wilayah Mediterranean dan ciri-ciri seperti rambut berambut perang atau coklat dan mata biru.

Walaupun mereka mempunyai keturunan Eropah atau Mediterranean, ini tidak bermakna mereka harus keturunan dari legion Rom yang hilang kerana bandar ini bersebelahan dengan Jalan Sutera yang lama, menjadikan perkawinan dengan pengembara jauh lebih mungkin. Masalah-masalah ini tidak mengesampingkan teori, tetapi masalah ini juga tidak dapat disahkan.

Isu lain adalah bahawa tidak mungkin nama Li-Jien berkaitan dengan kata legiun. Cendekiawan China yang telah meneliti etimologi nama itu mengatakan bahawa ia berkaitan dengan negara Lixuan, yang mempunyai hubungan dengan Ptolemaic Mesir tetapi tidak dengan Rom. Oleh itu, walaupun ada hubungan dengan dunia Mediterranean barat, kemungkinan besar hubungan Yunani dan bukan hubungan Rom, menurut pandangan ini.

Bust of Ptolemy I Soter, raja Mesir (305 SM – 282 SM) dan pengasas dinasti Ptolema. Pengenalpastiannya berdasarkan pada gambaran duit syiling. Dibaik pulih sebahagiannya oleh Augustin Pajou. ( Domain awam )

Mungkinkah Orang Liqian Berkaitan dengan Tentera Rom yang Hilang?

Oleh kerana Rom dan China saling mengenali pada zaman dahulu, dan mungkin untuk melakukan perjalanan antara kedua kerajaan pada masa itu, hipotesis ini dibuat lebih masuk akal. Ada kemungkinan pasukan Legion Rom berjaya sampai ke China, tetapi buktinya tidak meyakinkan.

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Penemuan genetik juga dapat ditafsirkan untuk bermaksud bahawa penduduk kota itu berasal dari populasi Kaukasia tempatan dan tidak ada bukti arkeologi yang tidak dapat dipertikaikan mengenai kehadiran Rom di kota itu pada zaman kuno.

Mungkinkah budak lelaki ini adalah saudara dari Rom kuno? (Ulasan Unz)

Masalah-masalah ini tidak menolak kemungkinan bahawa pasukan Romawi yang hilang berakhir di China, mereka menjadikannya kurang pasti. Namun, satu perkara yang pasti adalah bahawa orang-orang Liqian menonjol dari orang-orang di sekitarnya, suatu fakta yang masih belum dapat dijelaskan.


Orang Rom di China: Legiun Hilang Carrhae

Bangsa Rom pada abad pertama SM mungkin merupakan kerajaan yang paling banyak berkembang di sekitar. Walaupun perang saudara Caesar dan Pompey, dan Octavian dan Marc Antony menguasai tempat kejadian, banyak lagi yang berlaku di sekitar mereka. Pada tahun 53 SM, tentera Rom di bawah pimpinan Marcus Licinius Crassus, penakluk Spartacus dan orang terkaya di Rom, berusaha memperluas kuasa Rom ke Parthia, Iran moden. Dia sampai sejauh Harran modern di Turki tenggara sebelum dia ditemui oleh tentera Parthian di bawah Surena.

Crassus agak sombong dan terus maju, memikirkan kemenangan akan mudah melawan orang barbar yang rendah diri ini. Dia secara keliru keliru kerana Parthians adalah tentera separa profesional yang cekap dengan pemanah kuda paling elit yang pernah dilihat dunia pada masa itu. Dalam pembantaian yang dikenali sebagai pertempuran Carrhae, orang Rom kehilangan hampir keseluruhan tentera mereka dan Crassus terbunuh. 10,000 baki tentera Rom yang lain ditangkap.

Parthians mempunyai kebiasaan menggunakan tentera yang ditangkap sebagai penjaga sempadan. Dengan memindahkan 10.000 legiun ke asrama timur mereka menghalang peluang realistik melarikan diri bagi orang Rom yang mungkin hanya akan menerima lot baru mereka dalam hidup. Rekod tentera hilang selama kira-kira 17 tahun ketika pertempuran Zhizhi dilancarkan sebagai tentera China di bawah Chen Tang menyerang sebuah bandar sempadan yang kini dikenali sebagai Taraz, yang terletak di Kazakhstan berhampiran sempadan Kyrgyzstan. Sejarawan China mencatat bahawa para pembela memegang perisai mereka dalam corak "skala ikan". Pertempuran untuk bandar itu sengit tetapi orang Cina berjaya. Orang-orang Cina, di bawah Dinasti Han pada ketika ini, berada di puncak kekuatan mereka, pertempuran ini mewakili pengembangan terbesar mereka ke arah Barat dan kemenangan mereka dicapai sebahagiannya kerana banyak penduduk tempatan berpaling tadah kepada orang-orang Cina kerana takut.

Orang-orang Cina begitu terkesan dengan pahlawan-pahlawan asing ini sehingga mereka memasukkannya ke sebuah kota perbatasan yang lain, kali ini menjaga perbatasan antara China dan Tibet kerana serangan Tibet tidak jarang terjadi pada waktu ini. Di mana sahaja dari 100 hingga 1.000 atau lebih tentera menubuhkan diri mereka di kota ini yang dikenali oleh orang Cina sebagai Liqian / Li-Jien, yang disebut sebagai "legiun". Orang-orang ini diketahui menggunakan alat-alat seperti alat-alat pembinaan penimbang batang pokok, dan untuk mengukuhkan kawasan itu menjadi kubu persegi, tempat yang biasa di Laut Tengah tetapi agak jarang berlaku di Asia.

Surena yang berjaya

Nampaknya orang Rom ini hidup damai di Liqian, dan 2.000 tahun kemudian kita mempunyai bukti DNA bahawa lebih dari 50% penduduk kampung pada zaman moden Liqian mempunyai keturunan Kaukasia termasuk mata hijau dan biru, ketinggian rata-rata yang meningkat dan ciri khas lain seperti hidung Rom yang jelas. Orang-orang di kampung kecil menyedari dan bangga dengan keturunan mereka, meraikan orang Rom dan menunjukkan minat yang kuat terhadap lembu jantan, binatang legiun Rom yang sangat disembah.

Perjalanan panjang legiun Rom hilang di Carrhae, jarak lebih dari 3.000 batu (5.000 kilometer) dan hampir 5.000 batu dari Rom itu sendiri. Oleh Talessman CC BY 3.0

Sebilangan besar sejarawan moden benar-benar menolak kisah para legenda di China sebagai kisah dongeng daripada kebenaran, walaupun beberapa sejarawan terkemuka masih berpendapat bahawa rentetan peristiwa ini sangat mungkin dan bahkan teori yang paling mungkin. Hanya kerana kisah yang sukar dipercaya sama sekali tidak menjadikannya tidak benar. Dalam setiap rujukan dari sumber-sumber Asia, orang-orang asing nampaknya tidak lain adalah 10.000 tentera yang ditawan di Carrhae. Satu-satunya jurang pengetahuan adalah bahawa orang Rom dipindahkan dari kawalan Parthian ke kawalan Mongol ketika orang-orang Mongol memegang bandar itu pada pertempuran Zhizhi. Nampaknya orang Rom ditangkap dan diangkut lagi, atau lebih mungkin mereka dijual sebagai tentera upahan.

Penunggang kuda Parthian. perhatikan busur yang ditarik semasa kuda itu melompat lompat Parthians adalah pakar memanah kuda. Jean Chardin Oleh Jean Chardin & # 8211 CC BY-SA 3.0

Formasi "skala ikan" mereka dalam pertempuran hampir pasti merupakan formasi Testudo yang terkenal, dan latihan profesional menunjuk kepada tentera yang berpengalaman. Orang-orang Rom ini akan saling berteman selama bertahun-tahun sehingga dapat difahami bahawa mereka mempunyai disiplin yang luar biasa dan terus mengikuti latihan mereka, yang akan menyebabkan mereka mempunyai pertunjukan yang sangat mengagumkan pada Zhizhi sehingga orang Cina menggunakan mereka untuk menjaga keselamatan mereka sendiri wilayah.

Keturunan Rom moden adalah bukti yang baik tentang kehadiran Rom tetapi dua teori lain mungkin. Bandar Liqian terletak di Jalan Sutera pelbagai budaya, oleh itu DNA Kaukasia mungkin berasal dari pelancong di sepanjang jalan. Kemungkinan lain adalah bahawa tentera di pertempuran dan peneroka kota Tiongkok sebenarnya keturunan tentera Alexander the Great, walaupun ini nampaknya lebih tidak mungkin kerana peristiwa itu beberapa generasi dikeluarkan dari kempen Alexander dan tentera di Zhizhi jelas berperang di cara profesional dan barat.

Satu-satunya bukti yang diperlukan untuk mengesahkan kisah itu ialah duit syiling Rom atau artifak lain di Liqian. Sekiranya ceritanya benar, ini adalah kisah yang luar biasa mengenai kerugian tragis diikuti dengan kepatuhan ketat terhadap penjualan profesional. Pada masa mereka menetap di Liqian, tentera ini akan berusia empat puluhan dan lima puluhan dan berharap untuk bersara. Berdasarkan DNA keturunan mereka, sepertinya mereka tidak mengalami banyak serbuan Tibet, atau mungkin mereka diuji lagi dan akhirnya memegang tanah mereka sendiri.


Kekalahan Rom Legion

Legiun Rom Kuno membentuk salah satu tentera Badass yang paling terkenal dalam sejarah. Namun, sekuat, berdisiplin, dan sukses seperti mereka, mereka tidak terkalahkan dalam banyak kesempatan, mereka dikalahkan dalam pertempuran, dan kadang-kadang seluruh pasukan hancur dalam satu pertempuran dramatik, atau hilang begitu saja ketika berkempen tanpa kembali untuk memberitahu apa yang berlaku.

Sudah tentu, orang bebas membuat spekulasi mengenai apa yang berlaku kepada para legionari yang hilang ketika beraksi. Di situlah trope ini dimainkan.

Biasanya terdapat dua cara yang berbeza untuk mengatasi masalah ini:

  1. Kisah ini mengikuti legion Romawi lain yang telah dihantar untuk mengetahui apa yang terjadi pada legiun yang hilang dan (jika mungkin) memulihkan Eagle Standardsnya. Yang ini cenderung lebih kerap muncul dalam Fiksyen Sejarah.
  2. Cerita ini mengikuti legion yang hilang itu sendiri dan / atau keturunannya (dengan anggapan ia meninggalkannya). Walaupun agak umum dalam Fiksyen Sejarah, gagasan tentang pasukan Romawi yang dipindahkan di ruang, waktu, atau dimensi telah sering digunakan dalam Fiksyen Sains dan Fantasi untuk dianggap sebagai klise. Tidak selalu berakhir dengan gembira.

Banyak kisah yang menggunakan plot ini diilhamkan oleh salah satu daripada tiga kes "legion yang hilang" dalam sejarah Rom: kekalahan Marcus Licinius Crassus pada Pertempuran Carrhae, pemusnahan tiga legiun di Hutan Teutoberg, atau kes misteri Legion Kesembilan.


Kekalahan misteri Legenda Kesembilan Rom & # x27s

Kehilangan Rome & # x27s Kesembilan Legion telah lama membingungkan sejarawan, tetapi mungkin penyergapan kejam adalah peristiwa yang menjalin sempadan England-Scotland, kata ahli arkeologi Dr Miles Russell, dari Universiti Bournemouth.

Salah satu legenda Romawi Britain yang paling berkekalan adalah mengenai kehilangan Legion Kesembilan.

Teori bahawa 5.000 askar terbaik Rom hilang di kabut yang berpusing di Caledonia, ketika mereka berjalan ke utara untuk memberontak, membentuk asas sebuah filem baru, The Eagle, tetapi berapa banyak yang benar?

Sangat mudah untuk memahami daya tarik cerita-cerita seputar kekalahan Romawi Kesembilan Rom - kumpulan pejuang British yang kurang bernasib baik yang menyebabkan kekalahan memalukan pasukan profesional yang terlatih dan berperisai dengan kuat.

Ini adalah kemenangan terunggul dari underdog - kisah kemenangan yang tidak mungkin berlaku. Namun, baru-baru ini, kisah ini meresap lebih jauh ke dalam kesadaran nasional baik England dan Scotland.

Bagi orang Inggeris, pembantaian Kesembilan adalah kisah inspirasi dari & quotDavid & quot; orang tempatan & # 39; berjaya mengambil & quotGoliath & quot & Eropah tanpa henti. Bagi orang Scots, mengingat perdebatan mengenai pemerintahan dan identiti nasional yang dipisahkan, belum lagi kesan budaya Braveheart, kisah itu telah memperoleh mata wang tambahan - dataran tinggi yang suka kebebasan menentang monolitik, imperialis yang berpusat di London.

Legenda Kesembilan mendapat bentuk terima kasih kepada novelis terkenal Rosemary Sutcliff, yang karya agungnya, The Eagle of the Ninth, menjadi buku laris segera ketika diterbitkan pada tahun 1954.

Sejak itu, generasi kanak-kanak dan orang dewasa telah terpesona dengan kisah seorang pegawai muda Rom, Marcus Aquila, yang mengembara ke utara Tembok Hadrian & # x27s untuk mengungkap kebenaran tentang bapanya, yang hilang dengan Kesembilan, dan keberadaan Standard pertempuran Legion & elang, helang gangsa.

Para sejarawan tidak setuju, dengan teori bahawa Kesembilan tidak hilang sama sekali di Britain, dengan alasan bahawa buku dan filem adalah salah. Teori mereka jauh lebih biasa - legiun itu, sebenarnya, adalah mangsa pertukaran strategi, menukar hamparan sejuk di utara Inggeris, untuk sisa kering di Timur Tengah. Di sini, beberapa saat sebelum 160 Masehi, mereka musnah dalam perang melawan Parsi.

Tetapi, bertentangan dengan pandangan ini, tidak ada satu pun bukti yang menunjukkan bahawa Kesembilan pernah dikeluarkan dari Britain. Ini hanya dugaan yang, seiring berjalannya waktu, telah memperoleh kepastian besi tuang. Tiga jubin yang dicap dengan nombor unit Kesembilan yang terdapat di Nijmegen, Belanda, telah digunakan untuk menyokong idea perpindahan dari Britain.

Tetapi semua ini tampaknya berasal dari tahun 80-an Masihi, ketika detasemen Kesembilan memang ada di puak-puak Jerman yang memerangi Rhine. Mereka tidak membuktikan bahawa Kesembilan meninggalkan Britain untuk selamanya.

Sebenarnya, bukti terakhir yang berkaitan dengan kewujudan Legiun dari mana saja di Empayar Rom berasal dari York di mana sebuah prasasti, yang berasal dari 108 AD, memberi penghargaan kepada Kesembilan dengan membina semula kubu itu dengan batu. Beberapa waktu antara abad itu dan pertengahan abad ke-2, ketika catatan semua Legiun disusun, unit ini tidak lagi ada.

Tetapi apa yang berlaku pada Kesembilan?

Tahun-tahun awal abad ke-2 sangat trauma bagi Britannia. Penulis Rom Fronto memperhatikan bahawa, pada masa pemerintahan maharaja Hadrian (117 - 138 M), sejumlah besar tentera Rom dibunuh oleh Inggeris.

Jumlah dan jumlah kerugian ini tetap tidak diketahui, tetapi ternyata ketara. Sejarah Augustan yang dikarang secara anonim, disusun pada Abad ke-3, memberikan perincian lebih lanjut, mencatat bahawa ketika Hadrian menjadi maharaja, & quot; orang-orang Britain tidak dapat dikendalikan di bawah kekuasaan Rom & quot.

Masalah British amat membimbangkan pemerintah pusat Rom. Berkat batu nisan yang dijumpai dari Ferentinum di Itali, kami tahu bahawa bala bantuan darurat lebih dari 3.000 lelaki dikejarkan ke pulau itu di & quot; Ekspedisi British & quot, pada awal pemerintahan Hadrian & # x27s. Maharaja sendiri mengunjungi pulau itu pada tahun 122 Masehi, untuk & quot; memperbaiki banyak kesalahan & quot; dengan membawa pasukan baru, yang Keenam.

Kenyataan bahawa mereka tinggal di kubu legionary York menunjukkan bahawa "kerugian besar" kakitangan, yang disinggung oleh Fronto, telah terjadi dalam barisan Kesembilan.

Nampaknya Sutcliff memang betul.

Ia adalah yang kesembilan, yang paling terdedah dan paling utara dari semua legiun di Britain, yang telah menanggung beban pemberontakan, mengakhiri hari mereka memerangi pemberontak dalam pergolakan awal abad ke-2 Britain.

Kehilangan unit tentera elit seperti itu mempunyai sentuhan yang tidak dijangka yang berkumandang hingga sekarang. Ketika maharaja Hadrian mengunjungi Britain sebagai kepala pasukan besar, dia menyedari bahawa hanya ada satu cara untuk memastikan kestabilan di pulau itu - dia perlu membina tembok.

Tembok Hadrian & # x27s dirancang untuk menjauhkan penjajah dari wilayah Rom serta memastikan bahawa pemberontak yang berpotensi di wilayah itu tidak memiliki harapan untuk menerima sokongan dari sekutu mereka ke utara. Dari sudut ini, budaya di kedua sisi jurang besar berkembang dengan kadar yang berbeza dan dengan cara yang sangat berbeza.

Warisan utama Kesembilan adalah penciptaan sempadan kekal, selamanya memecah-belah Britain. Asal-usul apa yang menjadi kerajaan Inggeris dan Skotlandia yang merdeka mungkin disebabkan oleh hilangnya pasukan Romawi yang tidak beruntung ini.

Dr Miles Russell adalah pensyarah kanan dalam Prasejarah dan Arkeologi Rom di Bournemouth University.


Episod 3 - Adakah Legiun Rom yang Hilang menetap di China Purba?

Pada tahun 1957, ahli sinologi Amerika Homer H. Dubs menerbitkan Sebuah Bandar Rom di China, sebuah buku yang memperincikan teori akademik bahawa sekumpulan tentera Rom bekerja sebagai pengawal sempadan bagi Dinasti Han Barat di pinggir barat empayar. Ekspatriat kuno ini, Dubs mencadangkan, adalah mangsa bencana Rom yang ditinggalkan kepada Parthia pada Pertempuran Carrhae pada tahun 53 SM, setelah itu bergerak ke bahagian timur Empayar Parthian sebelum akhirnya menemui jalan untuk bertempur dengan tentera China. Dalam kekalahan, Dubs mendakwa, pasukan legenda yang keluar dari tempat itu dipindahkan oleh Dinasti Han Barat ke "sebuah kota perbatasan yang dibuat khas, yang tentunya orang Cina memberi nama mereka untuk Roma, yang merupakan Lijien (sekarang Liqian)."

Hari ini, Liqian adalah sebuah perkampungan kecil rumah yang penuh dengan bumi yang terletak di provinsi Gansu dan, dalam beberapa dekad sejak penerbitan Sebuah Bandar Rom di China, Teori Dubs telah mendorong para penyelidik, ahli arkeologi dan bahkan ahli genetik untuk mengunjungi bandar itu, semua ingin menjawab soalan yang sama mengasyikkan: adakah pasukan Romawi menetap di China kuno? Dan, jika demikian, adakah mereka yang tinggal di Liqian hari ini adalah keturunan pasukan yang hilang ini?


Adakah teori itu benar?

Banyak kajian baru-baru ini dikhaskan untuk membuktikan bahawa teori ini salah. Sebenarnya, kajian genetik baru-baru ini nampaknya mengesampingkan hipotesis asal Rom.

Lebih jauh lagi, tidak aneh bahawa ciri-ciri Kaukasia muncul dalam populasi di rantau ini, kerana Jalan Sutera lebih menyukai perkahwinan antara kaum, tetapi yang lebih penting lagi ialah hakikat bahawa penduduk asal wilayah tersebut (jauh lebih tua daripada Rom dan Dinasti Han) , dikenal sebagai nomad dengan ciri Kaukasia, seperti yang ditunjukkan oleh Tarim Mummies. Fakta bahawa tidak ada objek asal Rom yang ditemui hingga kini juga mengurangkan kesahan teori tersebut.

Secara peribadi, saya berpendapat bahawa ini adalah teori elegan yang memberi kebanggaan kepada penduduk Liqian untuk melihat gambar-gambar ini. Selain dari itu, ia telah membuat pembangunan ekonomi di kawasan ini, menarik beberapa pelancong yang hilang. Oleh itu, di mana salahnya menyatakan Liqian sebagai bandar yang diasaskan oleh Roman Lost Legion?


Adakah Sekumpulan Askar Rom yang Hilang Menemui Bandar di China?

Terdapat kisah yang sangat popular di luar sana mengenai bagaimana, konon, pada abad pertama SM, sekumpulan tentera Rom secara tidak sengaja melintasi benua Asia, berperang sebagai tentera upahan untuk pelbagai orang dan ditawan oleh orang lain, sebelum akhirnya menetap di China . Ini adalah kisah yang sangat menarik, tetapi, sayangnya, mungkin tidak ada kebenarannya.

Kisah apa yang disebut "legiun Rom yang hilang"

Mari kita mulakan dengan bahagian cerita yang kita tahu benar-benar berlaku. Pada 50-an SM, Republik Rom yang lewat memperluas pengaruhnya ke Timur Tengah. Sebagian besar Timur Tengah pada waktu itu, bagaimanapun, diperintah oleh Kerajaan Parsi Parthian. Ini secara semula jadi membawa konflik Rom dan Parthians. Pada sekitar awal Mei 53 SM, pasukan Romawi di bawah pimpinan jeneral Marcus Licinius Crassus menentang pasukan Parthia di lokasi Harran di wilayah yang sekarang merupakan Turki tenggara dalam Pertempuran Carrhae.

Segala sesuatu yang mungkin salah untuk orang Rom menjadi salah. Sekutu Rom meninggalkan mereka sebelum pertempuran, membawa hampir semua pasukan berkuda yang mereka miliki. Tentera Parthian yang mereka hadapi terdiri daripada sekitar 9.000 pemanah kuda dan sekitar 1.000 cataphract. Walaupun orang Rom mempunyai jumlah yang jauh lebih besar, mereka benar-benar dikalahkan. Kira-kira 20,000 orang Rom terbunuh dan sekitar 10,000 lagi ditawan. Crassus sendiri dipenggal kepalanya. Secara keseluruhan, pertempuran itu adalah kekalahan yang memalukan bagi orang Rom.

DI ATAS: Ketua potret marmar Rom Marcus Licinius Crassus, jeneral Rom yang mengetuai pasukan dalam Pertempuran Carrhae. Crassus dipenggal oleh Parthians. Pasukan pasukannya yang bertahan dan ditawan dibawa ke sempadan timur Empayar Parthian.

Legiun Rom yang selamat dari pertempuran dan diambil sebagai tawanan oleh Parthians dihantar ke ujung paling timur Empayar Parthian. Tidak ada yang tahu dengan pasti apa yang berlaku pada mereka seterusnya, tetapi, pada tahun 1941, American Sinologist Homer Dubs (berumur 1892 - 1969) mengemukakan hipotesis yang sangat berani dan spekulatif.

Pada tahun 36 SM, kira-kira tujuh belas tahun setelah Pertempuran Carrhae, Chen Tang, wakil komandan gabenor Wilayah Barat Dinasti Han China, memimpin pasukan pemogokan seribu batu sebelah barat sempadan Dinasti Han untuk menyerang dan membunuh Xiongnu pemimpin Zhizhi, yang pada waktu itu berada di kerajaan Kangju, yang terletak di Asia Tengah di Uzbekistan.

Sejarah Bekas Han, sejarah Dinasti Han dari 206 SM hingga 23 Masehi yang disusun pada sekitar tahun 111 Masihi oleh sejarawan Ban Gu (hidup 32 - 92 M) berdasarkan sumber sebelumnya, mencatat bahawa, semasa serbuan Chen Tang di kubu kuat Zhizhi, "lebih dari satu seratus "tentera Zhizhi berbaris" dalam formasi skala ikan. " Sejarah Bekas Han juga mencatatkan bahawa pintu gerbang kota mempunyai palisade berganda.

Dubs melihat persamaan yang mencolok antara "formasi skala ikan" yang dibuat oleh tentera Zhizhi semasa serbuan Chen Tang seperti yang dijelaskan dalam Sejarah Bekas Han dan Rom yang terkenal testudo (iaitu, "kura-kura") formasi di mana sekelompok orang Rom akan bertindih dengan perisai mereka di kedua sisi dan bahagian atas untuk memberi diri mereka perlindungan perisai yang lengkap dari musuh. Penyebutan palisade berganda juga mengingatkannya kepada orang Rom.

Dubs berspekulasi bahawa mungkin orang Rom yang telah ditawan setelah Pertempuran Carrhae dapat diperdagangkan oleh Parthians kepada Zhizhi atau mungkin melarikan diri dari Parthians dan bergabung dengan Zhizhi. Dia mencadangkan bahawa, mungkin, tentera yang melakukan "pembentukan skala ikan" semasa serangan Chen Tang sebenarnya adalah Tentera Rom.

Sejarah Bekas Han mencatatkan bahawa, setelah serangan Chen Tang, 145 tentera musuh ditangkap dan sekitar seribu menyerah. Para tahanan dibahagi sebagai hamba di antara pelbagai raja yang telah menyokong ekspedisi Chen Tang. Dubs berspekulasi bahawa, mungkin, orang Rom adalah antara yang ditangkap.

Dubs memperhatikan bahawa bancian Cina dari sekitar 5 Masehi mencatatkan kewujudan sebuah bandar di Provinsi Gansu di barat laut China yang disebut & # 8220Líqián& # 8221 (驪 靬), yang merupakan salah satu daripada beberapa nama Cina untuk Empayar Rom. Dubs berspekulasi bahawa kota ini mungkin didirikan oleh orang Rom yang dipercayai olehnya telah ditawan oleh orang Cina setelah serangan di kubu kuat Zhizhi.

DI ATAS: Penggambaran tentera Rom dalam formasi testudo dari Tiang Trajan, yang dibina di antara c. 107 dan c. 113 Masihi.

DI ATAS: Gambar dari Wikimedia Commons reenaktor moden mencipta semula testudo Rom

Penjenamaan semula moden Liqian (sebelumnya Zhelaizhai)

Ketika Dubs menulis, ada sebuah kota di Provinsi Gansu di sekitar lokasi yang sama dengan kota kuno Liqian yang dikenali sebagai Zhelaizhai. Ramai orang di Zhelaizhai mempunyai ciri-ciri yang secara tradisional dilihat sebagai orang Eropah, seperti hidung tinggi, kulit pucat, coklat, merah, atau bahkan rambut berambut perang, dan mata biru atau hijau. Banyak orang melihat ciri fizikal ini sebagai bukti bahawa mereka berasal dari anggota legiun Rom yang hilang yang kononnya menetap Liqian.

Selama beberapa dekad kebelakangan ini, kota Zhelaizhai dengan bersemangat menganut idea bahawa sebahagian orang di sana mungkin berasal dari anggota legiun Rom yang hilang. Dalam usaha menarik pelancong, kota ini secara resmi menamakan dirinya "Liqian" setelah kota kuno. Bandar ini juga telah membina sejumlah monumen awam yang mempromosikan idea warisan Rom orang-orangnya.

Sebagai contoh, Liqian mendirikan monumen yang menggambarkan seorang wanita Muslim Hui, seorang pegawai ulama Han, dan seorang tentera Rom. Mereka mendirikan monumen lain yang merangkumi perwakilan konvensional tentera Rom di samping replika patung Rom yang terkenal, termasuk Augustus dari Prima Porta dan juga Ludovisi Gaul. Sekurang-kurangnya pada satu ketika, kota Liqian bahkan bercakap tentang membina replika Colosseum berskala penuh.

Di Muzium Yongchang, mereka bahkan memiliki video resmi yang mereka tunjukkan kepada pengunjung yang menjelaskan kisah mendebarkan tentang bagaimana Liqian konon didirikan oleh tentera Rom. Walaupun begitu, video itu menggunakan rakaman dari filem aksi fantasi 2007 300—yang nampaknya mengenai Pertempuran Thermopylai, yang diperjuangkan antara gabungan orang Yunani menentang Parsi Achaemenid dan sekutunya pada tahun 480 SM — untuk mewakili Pertempuran Carrhae, yang bertempur antara Rom dan Parthians pada tahun 53 SM.

Rupa-rupanya orang yang membuat video itu tidak dapat membezakan perbezaan antara orang Yunani dan Rom atau perbezaan antara Achaemenid Parsi dan Parthians. Juga jelas bahawa tidak ada yang memberitahu mereka betapa tidak tepatnya 300 kerana, ketika saya membincangkan dalam artikel ini yang saya tulis pada bulan November 2019, filem ini adalah fantasi yang hampir murni dengan asas sejarah yang sangat sedikit.

DI ATAS: Tugu di Liqian seorang wanita Muslim Hui, seorang lelaki Han, dan seorang tentera Rom

DI ATAS: Foto monumen di Liqian dengan perwakilan konvensional tentera Rom berserta salinan pelbagai patung Rom yang terkenal, termasuk Augustus dari Prima Porta dan juga Ludovisi Gaul

"Legiun Rom yang hilang" dibongkar

Sangat mudah untuk melihat mengapa hipotesis Dub berlaku. Who tidak akan ingin mempercayai bahawa ada sekumpulan tentera Rom yang ditawan oleh Parthians, yang berperang sebagai tentera upahan untuk panglima perang Hunnic, yang ditawan oleh orang Cina Han, dan yang akhirnya menetap di sebuah kota di barat laut China yang mereka namakan tanah air mereka?

Malangnya, hipotesis Dub hampir pasti tidak betul dan bukti yang menyokongnya hampir lucu. Mari kita mulakan dengan melihat bukti Dubs mengenai kehadiran tentera Rom dalam serangan di kubu kuat Zhizhi. Pertama sekali, kita bahkan tidak dapat memastikan bahawa "pembentukan skala ikan" yang disebutkan dalam Sejarah Bekas Han malah sesuatu yang menyerupai testudo Rom sama sekali rujukan terlalu samar-samar untuk membuat spekulasi berdasarkannya.

Even if the “fishscale formation” were indeed a Roman-style testudo, there is no reason to assume that the soldiers at Zhizhi’s stronghold were Romans themselves. walaupun testudo formation and double palisade are characteristic of Roman-style warfare, these are ideas and tactics that someone else could have easily come up with independent of the Romans.

Furthermore, even if we assume that the “fishscale formation” was a Roman-style testudo and that the ideas for the testudo and double palisade did indeed come from the Romans, this would not necessarily mean that the soldiers at the battle must have been Romans themselves. In fact, it would actually make far more sense to assume that Zhizhi’s soldiers simply learned these tactics from the Romans.

We have no historical records that could possibly explain how a group of Roman soldiers captured by the Parthians could have wound up fighting as mercenaries for Zhizhi and, frankly, it sounds rather implausible. On the other hand, it is not entirely unreasonable to think that some of the forces fighting for Zhizhi could have encountered the Romans captured by the Parthians at some point and adopted some of their tactics. Certainly, a double palisade would have been easy to adopt. The testudo formation would have been more difficult, but we do not know if the “fishscale formation” was really a testudo anyways.

As for the existence of the town by the name of “Liqian,” this really means absolutely nothing. I personally do not speak Chinese, but I have consulted with someone who does and they have told me that the name Líqián literally means something like “Black Horse.” It is perfectly understandable why a town that was not founded by Roman soldiers might have a name like this.

Now, it has been pointed out that, in 9 AD, the name of the town of Liqian was changed to a phrase meaning “A Prisoner Raised Up,” but this does not really mean anything either, since there were lots of “prisoners” who were “raised up” in antiquity. None of this proves that the town was founded by Roman soldiers who had been captured during Chen Tang’s raid of Zhizhi’s fortress.

There are also serious problems here. No artifact of Roman origin has ever been found in the immediate area of Liqian—no Roman coins, no Roman weaponry, no Roman armor, no Roman anything. Furthermore, a genetic study conducted in 2007 on modern-day natives from the immediate area failed to detect any evidence of Italian ancestry in any of them. The study did detect some evidence of Indo-European ancestry in some of them, but, as I shall get to in a moment, this is hardly surprising and certainly does not constitute evidence of Roman ancestry.

Only a die-hard romanticist could fail to see the serious flaws in Dubs’s hypothesis here. Dubs builds speculation on top of speculation with only a few tiny tidbits of evidence tossed in along the way. The only reason why Dubs’s hypothesis is so popular is because it makes for such a thrilling story. The tale of a small group of Roman soldiers from Italy fighting and being captured all the way across Asia before eventually settling in northwest China in a city named after their homeland has all the making of an epic poem or a Hollywood film. Unfortunately, it probably never happened.

The real reason why so many people from Liqian look European

Many people are probably wondering, “Well, if they probably don’t have Roman ancestors, then why do so many people from Liqian look European?” The answer is that the reason why so many people from Liqian look European is because many of them probably have distant ancestors who ultimately came from Europe. Those European ancestors, though, probably weren’t Romans, but rather members of another nation—a nation that has been practically erased from history.

One thing that is often left out of the discussion over whether the Romans actually went to China is the fact that Liqian is not the only place in western China where you can find large numbers of people with features that we normally think of as “European.” There are actually people all throughout northwestern China with blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and other traditionally “European” features.

To find the reason why so many people in western China have features that are normally seen as European, we have to go back long before the Romans. Sometime around the fifth millennium BC or thereabouts, millennia before the Roman Empire was even an idea in someone’s head, there was a people known as the Proto-Indo-Europeans. The Proto-Indo-Europeans were nomadic herdsmen who probably lived in the steppes north of the Black Sea in what is now eastern Ukraine and southwest Russia. They spoke a language which linguists have termed “Proto-Indo-European.”

ABOVE: Map from Wikimedia Commons showing the migrations of various Indo-European groups out of the Indo-European homeland or Urheimat and across much of Europe and southwest Asia

Sometime perhaps around 3,500 BC or thereabouts, the Proto-Indo-Europeans began to migrate out of their homeland in the steppes north of the Black Sea across Europe and much of western Asia. As they spread across Eurasia, they brought their language and their culture along with them. The vast majority of European languages, along with many Indian and Iranian languages, are directly derived from Proto-Indo-European.

There was one group of Indo-European people who went further east than any of the others. These people settled in the Tarim basin in what is now the Xinjiang region of northwest China. We do not know much about these early Indo-European settlers of the Tarim basin, because they did not have written records at first, but we do know that many of them bore features commonly associated with northeastern Europeans because a large number of mummies have been found in the Tarim basin dating between c. 1800 BC and c. 200 AD bearing obviously European features.

By around the second century BC, numerous city-states of people speaking Indo-European languages had arisen in the Tarim basin. In around the fifth century AD, the Indo-European peoples of the Tarim basin began writing in their native languages, which linguists have dubbed “Tocharian.” There are three known Tocharian languages: Tocharian A, Tocharian B, and Tocharian C. The people who spoke these languages are known as “Tocharians.”

Many Tocharians had European features. Chinese sources describe the Tocharians as predominately light-skinned, blond or red-haired, and blue or green-eyed, with high noses and full beards. A Tocharian fresco from the Qizil Caves in the Tarim basin depicts Tocharian men with pale skin and blond hair.

ABOVE: Sixth-century AD Tocharian fresco from Qizil Caves in the Tarim basin depicting Tocharian men with pale skin and blond hair

ABOVE: Wooden tablet dating to between c. 400 and c. 800 AD with writing in Tocharian B

In 640 AD, Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty began a campaign against the Tocharian city-states of the Tarim basin. The Tocharians were conquered and brought under the rule of the Tang Dynasty. Later in the eighth century AD, the Uyghur Turks settled in the Xinjiang. The Tocharians largely assimilated into Uyghur culture and intermarried with the Uyghurs. To this day, many Uyghurs have still pale skin, blond or red hair, and blue or green eyes.

The Uyghurs are not the only ones in northwest China who probably have Tocharian ancestors, however the Tocharians have left a significant genetic footprint on northwestern China as a whole. Thus, many people who live in northwestern China have distant ancestors who lived in the steppes of Ukraine and southwest Russia many thousands of years ago.

Ancient Tocharian features such blond hair, pale skin, high noses, and blue eyes still occasionally resurface in the native populations of this region of China. That is probably the reason why so many people from Liqian look European. It is probably not because they have Roman ancestors it is far more likely because they have Tocharian ancestors.

Honestly, Roman ancestors don’t make especially much sense as an explanation for why some people in western China have blond hair and blue eyes anyway, since the Romans were Italian. The population of Italy hasn’t changed drastically since ancient times and, back then, blond hair and blue eyes were just as rare in Italy as they are now. Obviously, there are some people in Italy who do have blond hair and blue eyes, but these features are not nearly as common in Italy as they are in, say, southwest Russia or Ukraine.

ABOVE: Photograph from Wikimedia Commons of a blond-haired, blue-eyed Uyghur girl from Turpan, Xinjiang, China. To this day, many Uyghurs still have blond hair, blue eyes, and other features traditionally seen as European.

In the end, Homer Dubs’s hypothesis has effectively became a modern legend. There is really no evidence to support it, but many people go on believing in it anyways because it makes for a good story. In much the same way that Vergil’s Aeneid furnished a founding myth for the Roman people by claiming that the Romans were descendants of Aeneas, a hero who fought for Troy in the Trojan War, Dubs’s hypothesis has provided a founding myth for the city of Liqian by claiming that the people of Liqian are descendants of Roman soldiers, captured first by the Parthians and later by the Chinese. I expect that, with future generations, the legend will probably only be further elaborated until perhaps it gets an epic of its own.

Ultimately, there adalah some contact between the Roman Empire and the Han Empire, but it was largely limited to a handful of merchants and embassies. In ancient Roman sources, Chinese people are referred to as “Seres.” The Roman historian Lucius Annaeus Florus (lived c. 74 – c. 130 AD) records in his Epitome of Roman History 2.34 that “Seres” and Indians came from the far east to the court of the Roman emperor Augustus (ruled 27 BC – 14 AD), bearing gifts of precious gems, pearls, and elephants. Here is what he writes, as translated by E. S. Forster:

“Now that all the races of the west and south were subjugated, and also the races of the north, those at least between the Rhine and the Danube, and of the east between the Cyrus and the Euphrates, the other nations too, who were not under the rule of the empire, yet felt the greatness of Rome and revered its people as the conqueror of the world.

For the Scythians and the Sarmatians sent ambassadors seeking friendship the Seres [i.e., Chinese] too and the Indians, who live immediately beneath the sun, though they brought elephants amongst their gifts as well as precious stones and pearls, regarded their long journey, in the accomplishment of which they had spent four years, as the greatest tribute which they rendered and indeed their complexion proved that they came from beneath another sky.”

The History of the Later Han records that, in 166 AD, a group of emissaries arrived at the court of Emperor Huan claiming to have been sent by “Andun” (安敦), the king of “Daqin.” “Daqin” was the most common Chinese name for the Roman Empire. The “Andun” mentioned in The History of the Later Han is most likely the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (ruled 161 – 180 AD).

The History of the Later Han states that the arrival of this embassy was the first time there had been direct diplomatic contact between the Chinese and the people of Diqin, which suggests that the “Seres” at the court of Augustus mentioned by Florus were probably independent merchants and not an official embassy sent by the Han emperor.


A Roman Legion Lost in China.

The battle of Carrhae[1] ended fifty-three years before the birth of Jesus Christ, on the last day of May. It was a shameful disaster for the Roman army: seven legions with the strength of 45,000 men were humiliated and routed by 10,000 Parthian archers.

The commanding officer of the unfortunate expedition was Marcus Licinius Crassus, a sixty-two-year-old tribune eager for glory and wealth, even though he was already the richest man in Rome. He organized the campaign – perhaps also because he envied the military successes of Pompey and Caesar, and foolishly thought his amateur dramatics might equal their professionalism. His only triumph had been achieved with Pompey’s help: the bloody suppression of Spartacus and his slaves. He had insufficient experience to embark on a large-scale operation himself thus, Rome’s Republican government were loathe to let him depart with such a sizeable army, especially since there was no real emergency in the east. During the heated public debate about the excursion, a tribunus plebis named Ateius argued vehemently in opposition. Plutarch wrote that, when Ateius realised that his efforts were in vain and that he would not receive enough supporting votes, he theatrically lit a brazier and, while throwing grains of incense onto the flames, started to curse Crassus and evoke the infernal gods. Judging from the name and the behaviour of this man, we can guess that he was of Etruscan descent! To strengthen his own case, Crassus had enlisted the support of Pompey and Caesar, who saw an opportunity to free themselves of a powerful competitor.

When the Senate granted approval, Crassus assembled metropolitan legions in Rome, marched to Campania and then to Brindisi, where he met with other legions summoned from Calabria. The troops embarked despite of stormy seas – an early indication of his ineptitude. Not all the ships reached the other shore.

Crassus had the blind goddess Fortune on his side during his youth: he emerged unscathed from the civil wars, and though he was implicated in the Catiline conspiracy he suffered no consequences. He also settled the debts of a spendthrift Caesar whilst being tightfisted himself and with his family.

But as he aged he became a sort of blunderer, making numerous and serious mistakes, some of them mentioned by the historians who have written in detail about his last expedition. For instance, in a speech to his soldiers he proclaimed that he would destroy a bridge ‘so that none of you would be able to return’ but when he noticed the expressions of dismay amongst his soldiers, Crassus quickly corrected himself by explaining that he had been referring to the enemy. At one point he ordered the distribution of lentils and salt to the troops, oblivious that this was a meal offered at funerals. And when he dropped on the floor the entrails of a sacrificial animal placed in his hands by a haruspex (a soothsayer) Crassus cried: “Fear not despite my age, the hilt of my sword will not slip from my hand!” On the day of the battle Crassus wore a black tunic, instead of the purple colour de rigour for Roman generals, and even though he quickly returned to his tent to change, he left his officers speechless.

Moreover Crassus refused to listen to his veterans advisors in favour of marching on the coast and avoiding the desert to reach the Parthian capital. Rather, he trusted the Arab, Arimanes, and his 6,000 horsemen, who had secretly sided with the Parthians and abandoned the Romans shortly after engaging in the battle.

Crassus ordered his soldiers to organize themselves in square formations, shielded on all sides without and packed like sardines within. It caged them, and they were slaughtered by the Parthian’s arrows, shot from their reflex bows with recurved edges. These bows doubled the propulsion power, enabling them to shoot at a distance of up to 400 metres. This kind of bow was a Mongol invention further perfected by the Chinese in the seventeenth century, when their arrows became capable of reaching a distance of up to 600 metres.

Seeing the grave danger, Crassus’ son, Publius, attempted a sally with a thousand Gallic cavalrymen, but he and half of them were slain, the remainder taken prisoners. The head of Publius was put on a spear and shown to the Romans and to his father. On this tragic occasion we can see the only glimpse of Roman greatness in Crassus who momentarily ceased to act like an old fool and told to his soldiers to keep up the fight. The death of his son, he said, was his private injury, not theirs.

At nightfall, Crassus agreed to negotiate with the enemy however, it was a trap. He was killed and his head was also cut off. 20,000 Romans died that day 10,000 were taken prisoner, and the remainder managed to escape back to Italy.

This shameful setback was partially redressed by Marcus Antonius a few years later and a diplomatic solution with the Parthians was reached under Augustus in 20 BC with a peace treaty that allowed for the retrieval of lost insignia, including the return of the eagles and the banners of the seven Roman legions. When Augustus sought also the return of prisoners from 53 BC the Parthians maintained that there were none to repatriate. Their practice had always been to shift prisoners caught in the West to Turkmenistan in the East. By so doing they aimed to secure their loyalty against their worst enemies – the Huns – and this is probably what happened to the unfortunate 10,000 legionnaires captured during Crassus’s battle. The Roman historian Plinius also upheld this theory, which stood until 1955, when an American Sinologist, Homer Hasenpflug Dubs, gave a speech during a conference in London, titled, “A Roman City in Ancient China”.

Dubs had found that in the annals of the Han dynasty there is record of the capture of a Hun city by the Chinese army in 36 BC named Zhizhi, now known as Dzhambul, located close to Tashkent, in Uzbekistan. Dubs was deeply impressed by the fact that the Chinese recorded the discovery of palisades of tree trunks, and that the enemy had used a previously unseen battle formation, namely a testudo of selected warriors forming a cover of overlapping shields in front of their bodies in the first row and over the heads in the following rows. [2]

The Roman Testudo

The Chinese were so struck by the military skills of the opposing warriors that they moved them, after enlisting, further East, to a place that by imperial decree was named Li-Jien (which sounds in Chinese as the word “legion” and is the name the Chinese called Rome) in Gansu province. It was uncommon for Chinese to name their cities after barbarian names: the only two other known cases, Kucha and Wen-Siu, occurred where large colonies of foreigners had settled. The legionnaires numbered 145, and formed a garrison protecting the inhabitants of Li-Jien from Tibetan raids.

Dubs claimed to have identified Li-Jien as the place now known as Zhelaizhai, near Lanzhou. Subsequent archaeological expeditions made by Chinese, Australians and Americans appear to support the choice of this Chinese city even though the smoking gun, which may finally solve the mystery, has yet to be found.

During excavations in 1993 fortifications were unearthed, as well as a type of trunk fixed with stakes, possibly dating back to the time of the arrival of the legionnaires. The ‘trunk’ was a kind of hoist used by the Romans to build fortifications but unknown in China. It is now on display in the Lanzhou Museum.

The physical features of those living in Lanzhou, in some cases, also give some credence to Dubs’s theory. A certain Sung Guorong, for instance, stands at the unusual height of 1.82 metres, is blond and with an aquiline nose and big blue eyes, and loudly proclaims that he is Roman, not Chinese. He also claims that there are at least 100 others in the area with similar features.

Certainly among the legionnaires there were some German as well as Gaul auxiliaries. Perhaps one of Mr Song’s ancestors was one of those 500 horsemen captured during Publius Crassus’s tragic sally. Lanzhou University has conducted DNA tests on the population of Zhelaizhai and their findings show that 46 per cent of them have genetic sequences similar to Europeans’.

Future research conducted using the Y chromosome (which is subject to little variation as it is transmitted directly from father to son) will shed more light on this mystery, and will help gather more precise information about European kinship ties.

Apart from this genetic evidence, Roman coins and pottery have also been unearthed in Zhelaizhai, as well as a helmet bearing the engraving in Chinese characters: One of the Prisoners. However, Zhelaizhai is located along the Silk Road, where such discoveries are found frequently. Similar artefacts have been found in distant places such as Vietnam and Korea.

One of Zhelaizhai’s specific characteristics, worth mentioning, is the passion for bulls and bullfighting, which continues to this day, and which is not shared by neighbouring areas. Local authorities, wishing to capitalize on the tourist potential offered by this link, have built a pavilion with Roman marble statues to attract visitors.

The Chinese were aware of the existence of a large Western empire and sent a legation in the year 97 AD, headed by Kan Ying. This legation arrived in Mesopotamia but, prior to continuing on to Rome, were misled by the Parthians into believing the journey would take two years of sailing. The Parthians had no interest in having their two main customers meet, as this would have cut them out of a lucrative trade.[3]

The naïve Kan Yin trusted the Parthians and decided to return to China empty handed.

Marcus Aurelius in 166 AD sent an official delegation of Romans to the Chinese capital of Luoyang and their arrival is recorded in the dynastic annals however, the Chinese did not respond favourably to the Roman overtures, perhaps because of the occurrence in 184 AD of the peasant rebellion known as the Yellow Turbans, which caused a frightful civil war and the fall of the Han dynasty, which had ruled over China for four centuries.

(This article was published in a Hong Kong magazine on February 2003. Since than my story went viral on the web. I was contacted by an historian from Turkey asking if I knew more, because it seems that traditionally it was from Zheilazhai that begun the march West of the Turkish nation, or better say the Ashina clan within the Turkish nation..)

This article was published for the first time in Fabruary 2003.

[1] Carrhae, now known as Harran, is located on Turkey’s oriental border.

[2] These facts are reported in the biography of Chen Tang, one of the victorious Chinese generals, written by the historian Ban Gu (32 – 92).

[3] It is well known that Caesar spent a considerable amount of gold for bespoke-tailored togas made of silk, and that he gave Servilia, his mistress and mother of Brutus, a costly pearl from the South Seas. He was a trendsetter…


Part 1 : A lost Roman legion….in China?

The year was 53 BC, Caesar was enforcing civilisation in Gaul and the politics of empire danced their dangerous dance around the Vestal flame. In the midst of this turbulence, 10,000 ravaged, beaten and humiliated soldiers of a once proud Roman army were marched under the yoke into the mists of time, never to be heard of again……or were they?

Marcus Licinius Crassus, the proclaimed ‘wealthiest man in Rome’, was losing the war of prestige and honour to his fellow triumvirates, and under intense pressure to prove his worth as a leader of men after the disastrous campaign against the slave revolts under Spartacus. He craved the one thing money could not buy, the most prized attribute in the high echelons of Roman society, the ‘dignitas’ gained from total war. He therefore decided he would make his mark in the most spectacular way. He raised himself seven legions of Rome’s finest, an estimated 30,000/35,000 men, 4,000 horse, and about 3500 light infantry.

This Roman military machine, it’s engine emitting the throaty roar of impending conquest and the jewel encrusted prospect of unimaginable riches, invaded the heartlands of it’s mortal nemesis, the Parthian empire. Alas it would prove to be one of the most disastrous campaigns in Roman history, ending in just one significant military engagement. On the banks of a tributary of the Euphrates, a Parthian army of 10,000 blocked the way of the might of Rome it would be recorded through the annals of time as the battle of Carrhae. (Now modern day Harran, Turkey)

The battle was scarcely a battle, with the enemy not presenting themselves for close quarters combat, the Roman legions were completely outmanoeuvred and utterly cut to pieces. Parthian horse archers, who are now, as then, famous for the ‘Parthian shot’, in which an archer could turn in the saddle and loose several more arrows as they rode away. This was devastating for the Roman ethos of war, which principally consisted of a stand and be destroyed way of fighting, the army was designed for close quarter action. In almost a forerunner to the last days of the Empire centuries later, the Parthian archers blitzed the Roman position for a full day, and with the final blow of the death on legs that were the cataphracts, the fat lady had definitely sung for the legions, reducing 30,000 of Romulus’s wolves draped in iron into a blood soaked wall of flesh and forgotten courage, turning the sun scorched desert into deaths playground. The air was full of the iron tinge of spent blood, and the carrions were to feast for weeks to come.

Crassus and the surviving legates of the army, knowing the day was well and truly lost, and with the tattered and exhausted remnants of the army near mutinous, agreed to a meeting of parley offered by the Parthian commander, a General Surena. However a scuffle ensued and Crassus was executed.

Next according to Plutarch:

‘Thereupon some of them went down and delivered themselves up, but the rest scattered during the night, and of these a very few made their escape the rest of them were hunted down by the Arabs, captured, and cut to pieces. In the whole campaign, twenty thousand are said to have been killed, and ten thousand to have been taken alive.’- Plutarch, Lives

Thus our story begins.

It all started in 1957 when a well respected yet gloriously eccentric Sinologist by the name of Homer H Dubs published a paper entitled: ‘A Roman City in Ancient China’. A subject he had been researching for 10 years. In the paper he stated that captured soldiers from the battle of Carrhae had been settled and used as mercenaries (and even formed a town!) in North Western China, in what is now the Gansu province. It is of little surprise that mystery lovers and some scholars have pounced on this extraordinary claim. Considering that Chinas first accepted direct contact in literary sources with the Roman Empire itself was an emissary during the Principate, under Marcus Aurelieus in 166 AD. It is very tantalising to think of the delicious notion of earlier and spectacular integration of westerners in China. I do have to admit also, that the circumstantial evidence is definitely compelling.

Let us explore the evidence….

Now, the Parthians’ usual practice for captured enemy soldiers was to indeed utilise them, to strip them of all their own military equipment and re-supply with indigenous weapons. The ancient sources such as Pliny seem to support this also, it is worth mentioning the Roman historian Horace claimed that the survivors were integrated in to the main Parthian army and married to women of the indigenous population. If we are to take this as evidence for our current subject, these soldiers most likely fate was to be moved to the far eastern fringes of the Parthian empire in Turkmenistan to be used as border guards against the Huns. It indeed makes sense that these soldiers be moved as far from their own borders as possible the Romans themselves did this with the auxiliaries they recruited.

In 20 BC during negotiations for the recovery of the standards lost at Carrhae between Augustus and the Parthians, it was stated that there were no prisoners to be given back as reparations also. This is the basis many theorists use to substantiate the idea of the Romans in China the Parthians no longer had the prisoners, it obviously backs up the theory to some extent of the Romans in China…..surely?

Not quite, let us pick apart this foundation idea. Firstly it is 20 BC, that is 33 years after Carrhae, and the average life expectancy of a male of the soldier class in the late republic was 45/50 (and that’s being optimistic even without battle exposure and other hazards of this type). So even if we assume the majority of soldiers was aged 17/30 at the time of the battle, that would place them in the age bracket of between 42 and 60 years old. Even taking into consideration that it is possible that some would live longer than others, the idea that it could be used to substantiate the theory just doesn’t stack up to real scrutiny. However, on the flip side of this there is indeed a chance of some of these men still being alive at the time of the diplomatic exchange.

Let us move on, there is a Chinese record, called ‘History of the former Han Dynasty’. In the first scene they tell the story of a territorial battle between the Huns and the Chinese in a place called ZhiZhi, identified today as Zhambal, Uzbekistan, in the year 36 BC (notice again the date). A general in command of the Chinese was a man named Chen Tang, and his account of the battle is where it all starts for Dubs and the very foundation of the whole theory. He stated that his warriors faced off against a unit of soldiers which numbered more than a hundred using a very strange formation, he described it as a ‘fish scale formation’ (You can see where this is going right. ) that he had never been witness to before. Now this is all he says about this formation, but it does strike an alarming similarity to the ‘testudo’ (Latin for tortoise), the famous formation used by the Romans throughout their military conquests until at the very least the 4 th Century AD.

He does make note of another feature of the Roman military too, a wooden palisade being placed outside the walls this according to Dubs was almost exclusively a Roman practice at this time. Dubs himself, when presented with the possibility that they could be Hunnish warriors completely dismisses this on the grounds that like all nomad and barbarian armies of this period were just that, barbarian. He maintained that cohesive and complicated battle manoeuvres and building works could only be obtained by constant drill and training, and the double palisade was most characteristically a standard Roman practice. A thing to note also is that the Huns, who in tactics and troop utilisation were very similar to the Parthians. Were composed largely of mounted archers and heavy shock cavalry, the heavy infantry units used usually composed largely of mercenaries or low born levies.

In Chen Tang’s official report to the emperor he states that approximately 1,518 men were killed, had taken alive 145 men and 1000 men surrendered. Could those 145 men be the Roman mercenaries?

It is a very strange fact that the 145 were considered separate from the 1000 who surrendered. Maybe because the 145 just changed paymaster? It does make sense that this is how mercenaries would act in this situation, a transition from one employer to the next, who cares where the money is coming from? Dubs certainly sees it that way he defines the 145 men as the ‘just over a hundred men’ that were using the ‘fish scale’ formation. I am inclined to admit also that this evidence can easily be linked with each other and it does make perfect sense that the Chinese victors would be happy to acquire these men, due to their formidable tactics they used. According to Dubbs, these soldiers were then moved to a frontier town, the name of this town was Li-Jien.

In the next installment we will attempt to shed some light on the secrets of that little town in China…..


Has A Lost Roman Legion Been Found In China?

Lost Roman legions are all the rage at the movies lately. Neil Marshall was first out the gate with Centurion this year, a really fun and bloody adventure tale about what happened to the fabled Ninth Legion, who disappeared in the wilds of Britain. Kevin MacDonald has a movie about that same legion coming out next year generically called The Eagle (it was originally titled The Eagle of the Ninth, which is much better), the film is set a generation later as a son of a Ninth Legion soldier searches for that group’s missing Eagle emblem.

But the Ninth Legion wasn’t the only lost legion out there. And now DNA tests may have found one of the most legendarily lost groups of Roman soldiers - in China.

You might know Marcus Crassus from Spartacus, but he wasn’t just Kirk Douglas’ enemy. He also was in command of one of ancient Rome’s most devastating defeats - the Battle of Carrhae. Crassus’ Roman forces got royally fucked up by the Parthians they were trying to conquer (Parthia was located in what is now northeastern Iran). It seems the Parthian archers were all that and a bag of chips, and they would ride up on the Romans, raining arrows of death, and then ride away still raining arrows of death. They could shoot equally well forwards or backwards.

40,000 Romans got killed in that battle, and Crassus, pressured into a parley with the Parthians by his mutinous troops, got betrayed and was beheaded. 10,000 Romans were captured and from that day forward disappeared from the official history books.

But there have been stories and legends about them. The accepted wisdom at the time was that the Parthians took the prisoners and moved them to their eastern front, where they were put into battle against the Huns. That was certainly the thesis extended by Roman historian Plinius.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Rumors have it that some of those Romans became mercenaries, fighting for the highest bidder. The Chinese took a Hun city almost 20 years later, and were very impressed with some warriors they saw in action there. Chinese histories tell of warriors who used a ‘fish scale formation,’ which sounds like it could very well be the overlapping shield testudo formation that the Romans perfected and that made them such a fierce fighting force.

The Chinese took these warriors and moved them even farther east, settling them in a town that was named Li-Jien (which sounds, in Chinese, like the word legion), where they repulsed Tibetan attacks. Recent excavations in an area near where archeologists think Li-Jien was (it’s now lost) unearthed a kind of hoist that Romans used in building fortifications which was unknown to the Chinese. That trunk is now on display at the Lanzhou museum.

Which brings us to the modern day. The archeologists who found that artifact were surprised by the looks of the locals. According to China Daily:

DNA testing has shown that some villagers have as much as 56% Caucasian ancestry.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s keep in mind that this village is along the famed Silk Road, the center of trade traffic between East and West in ancient times. There are a lot of ways that the people of Liqian, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, could have gotten some white in their veins. And the make-up of a Roman legion - it could have contained people from all over the vast Empire, including Germans (whom the locals, with their light hair and eyes, seem to resemble the most) - makes it tough to be sure that the Caucasian DNA came from the legion or from a traveling trader.

That said, it’s unlikely that Romans ever officially got anywhere near the Gobi Desert. The Han Empire was aware of the Romans, and there was some minor contact but it was all done through third party intermediaries (the Parthians, in fact!). No official Roman boot trod that far into Chinese territory.

But maybe! It’s kind of cool to think of the slow seepage of ancient empires into one another. And the idea of a hardy band of Roman legionnaires - the stories have their final number as less than 200 - fighting in strange and exotic lands and finding themselves settling down there - makes for an excellent and thrilling story. Now that’s a lost legion film I’d like to see. I could finally get a film where a guy in a Roman helmet fights a kung fu master.


Tonton videonya: Age of Empires - Part 1: The Roman Republic, Maurya India u0026 Qin China. History of the World vol. II (Ogos 2022).