Both empires were broadly comparable in terms of size (c.4 million square kilometers each) and population (c.
Comparative history is not about laws but about robust processes, defined as combinations of characteristic initial conditions that produce a particular outcome.
While these processes cannot generate precise predictions, the cross-cultural consistency of human behavior (currently a major issue in the debate between culturally and biologically oriented models of human nature) means that they may usefully imply probabilities of outcome.
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.
This approach helps define features of one system more sharply by comparison with conceptually or functionally equivalent features in another system.
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.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.Unlike parallel demonstration, which tends towards repetition, and contrast history, which tends to be more descriptive than explanatory, macro-causal analysis obviates the need to provide coherent narratives and makes it possible to focus on what is needed to address specific explanatory problems.More recently, Goldstone (1991: 50-62) provided a succinct manifesto for comparative history.In recent years, a number of studies have focused on the nature of moral, historical, and scientific thought in . (The Warring States Project at the University of Massachusetts ( though interested in comparative perspectives, primarily focuses on the Chinese literary tradition and is exclusively concerned with pre-imperial China.)There are no comparable studies of Roman and Chinese high culture, and, more importantly, virtually no similarly detailed comparative work on the political, social, economic or legal history of Hellenistic, Roman, and ancient Chinese empires.(-sociological studies of imperialism and social power that deal with Greece and Rome comparatively and within a broader context do not normally include China (Doyle 1986; but see very briefly Mann 1986); the older global study by There is no intellectual justification for this persistent neglect.Expert knowledge is required for all elements of the comparison, not just for the cases the researcher is familiar with.With regard to comparisons between the ancient Mediterranean and ancient In practice, historical comparisons inevitably rely on a mixture of different approaches.During the same period, in eastern Eurasia, the Warring States period (481-221 BCE) was characterized by intense competition among seven imperial states (Yan, Qi, Wei, Zhao, Han, Qin, and Chu), which were themselves the result of previous state consolidation in the Spring and Autumn period (770-481 BCE, with c.15 major states). While its western half was taken over by barbarian successor states (from about 400 CE onwards), a quintessentially Roman state survived in the East for another millennium (though much diminished from the 630s CE onwards).Rapid unification was brought about by the Qin state (221-210 BCE) which soon turned into the Han empire (206 BCE to 220 CE), and then continued expansion into its tribal periphery (in the 2nd and 1st c. In , a similar division occurred soon after the end of the Han dynasty (following the short interlude of the Three Kingdoms from 220 to 265 CE and temporary reunification under the Western Jin from 280 to 304 CE) from 317 CE onwards.