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orion Possible Chinese - Jewish contact in 105BCE (some say 115BCE)



Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997 13:20:58 -0500
To: orion@mscc.huji.ac.il
From: David West <dlwest@galstar.com>
Subject: Possible Chinese - Jewish contact in 105BCE (some say 115BCE)


  For me at least, the following information came as a surprise and is said
to be inside something called "The Annals of the Han Dynasty"

  As the successful Chinese siege of Kokand was coming to an end, the
eastern and western silk roads were joined and the first caravan to travel
directly from China to Parthia arrived in 106BCE.  Around that time a
Chinese Ambassador was sent to Parthia.  He was given a spectacular
reception starting with a border escort of 20,000 horsemen.  Now Parthia
had a very large Jewish population, and the City of Rhages had a large
ancient Jewish community and was situated at a geological formation known
as the Caspian Gates.  It seems a near certainty that the Ambassodorís
party passed through this Jewish community on the way to the Parthian
Capital and mathmatically speaking it seems likely that Jews participated
in the reception event at the Parthian Capital.

  The Parthian Emperor then sent an envoy of his which traveled back with
to China with the same party.  The Parthian envoy was a highly successful
one for a surprising reason.  A troop of acrobats and jugglers accompanying
the Parthian Envoy enchanted the Chinese.  The rich Chinese tradition of
acrobatics is said to been originated with the visit of this troop.  The
Chinese Emperor personally asked members of the troop what was the name of
their home city.  Their answer was recorded in Chinese unfortunately, and
it is thought that they said Alexandria, but some say that they replied
"Petra".

  Since Alexandria had a large Jewish Population as well as Parthia, it is
likely that at least somebody in this highly successful delegation was
Jewish, whether they were juggling or negotiating.

I am not a Chinese Scholar, but merely someone working next door to a
library.  This stuff is easily looked up.

Now behave yourselves, for I am including the following quote from Pliny
just in the spirit of fun.  He describes the Chinese as follows:  "as
surpassing the ordinary stature of mankind, as having red hair, blue eyes,
hoarse voices, and no common language to communicate by."  I donít know who
Plinyís source was for that, but it does not strike me as a first, second
or even third hand observation.

David West
Tulsa Oklahoma