Jamie's Blog

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Roman legions in China

I read an interesting article about a village in China that is said to be descended from mercenary soldiers settled there by a Chinese emperor. people born in the village show a lot of European characteristics and racial features. Back in 1950s an Oxford professor, Homer Dubs, theorized that they were descended from a Roman legion know to have been captured by the Parthians(an empire located roughly where Iran is now). The Parthians forced the captured legion into mercenary service on their eastern frontier, far away from the western Roman frontier.
That was the last confirmed whereabouts of the legion. 17 years after the battle with the Parthians, history records the capture of a mercenary company by the Chinese that fought in a "fish scale formation." Dubs theorized that this "fish scale formation" referred to the tortoise formation of interlocking and overlapping shields that Roman legions commonly used. This mercenary company was settled in the Liqian. Now for the first time, scientists are doing DNA testing to try to find the origin of the inhabitants of the village.

Widipedia link to story


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