One geographic factor that allows for easy access to trade and leads to economic prosperity is being near a large water source. A water source can permit one group of people to be able to come into contact with a different group of people more easily. By being able to interact with different groups of people, you can trade with them, conquer them, and learn different skills from them. The Roman Empire was situated by many larger sources of water. Very central to them was the Mediterranean Sea, and they also had contact with the Black Sea, North Sea, and Atlantic Ocean (Doc. 1). This allowed them to be able to travel by water to many different lands and interact with many different peoples. By doing this, they were able to advance economic and really improve the economic development of the Roman empire. The Han dynasty did not have access to as many water sources as the Roman Empire did. While the Romans had a very central water source (the Mediterranean) to connect them with many different groups of people, the Han dynasty had water on their coast that didn’t connect them with other lands and had a few main rivers running through it that weren’t connected (Doc. 5). Because the Han dynasty didn’t have a large water source to connect them with other people, it was harder for them to learn new skills and trade with other people that would benefit them economically therefore that geographic factor hindered the Han’s economic development. The few main rivers in China weren’t connected, and this hurt the Han militarily and commercially. Qin emperor Shi Huangdi ordered the building of the Magic Canal to connect the two rivers but this was a very difficult task because of geographic factors (Doc. 4). The rivers ran in opposite directions and were three miles apart at their closest. Other canals were also built in different areas. Once the canals were made, it allowed for the transport of goods throughout different parts of the Han dynasty and also allowed for military conquest to expand the Han dynasty. This geographic factor hindered the economic development of the Han dynasty. While the Han had difficulty engineering waterways due to lack of water, the Roman Empire had an abundance of water and because of the environment were able to easily engineer the water. Different elevations, surplus of water, and gravity all allowed for the manufacturing of aqueducts (Doc. 4). The way that Roman cities were built, the aqueducts were able to channel water from high ground many miles away to cities (Doc. 3). Due to the geography of the Roman Empire these aqueducts were possible. With these aqueducts the Romans were able to more quickly advance and not spend as much time obtaining fresh waters for cities which led to greater economic development.
While a lot of geographic factors hindered the economic development of the Han dynasty, some geographic factors benefited economic growth. The diversity of the land in China allowed for many different resources. As shown in the rubbing of a salt mine, there was saltwater/brine deposits available in China underground and mountains that provided good areas for hunting (Doc. 6). Salt was a very valuable resource in the Han dynasty and was available to the Han’s because of their geographic location. The same is true for hunting, because this was available due to their geographic location and access to salt and good hunting led to positive economic development for the Han dynasty because they could be used for trade. An additional document to compare the geographic factors that affected economic development in the Roman and Han empires would be a comparison of how successful economically the two empires were side by side, because this would show whether or not the geographic factors really had a huge impact on their economic development or not. Overall though, I think that the geographic factors of the Han dynasty hindered their economic development while the geographic factors of the Roman Empire helped their economic development.