Creating Ancient History in Modern China

Clark Whelton

 

 

Ah, the political urge to create a longer chronology.

Substitute "Christianity" for "socialism," and "doctrinal purity" for "academic democracy," and the creation of imaginary centuries now under way in China probably resembled what the Church did in concocting its AD calendar. As I mentioned earlier, the solution to the Chinese pride problem is to recognize that Egyptian and Mesopotamian chronologies are too long, not in being ashamed that Chinese history is too short.

This reminds me of the crisis that occurred when 18th dynasty Egyptian objects from the -2nd millennium were found in Mycenaean graves that had been dated to the -1st millennium. There was no tradition of Greek history extending that far back in time, but Egyptologists ruled the chronological roost (and still do), so instead of shortening Egyptian history, they lengthened the Myceneaan timeline, and presto! A "dark age" opened up in Greek history.

 

 

 

THE NEW YORK TIMES