Timeline of Chinese-European Cultural Relations
Contacts between China and Europe are more than two- thousand years old. In the first millennium they were spo- radic and only indirect, as knowledge of each other was mediated by various peoples of the Near and Middle East and Inner Asia. It was only in the second millennium that the contacts slowly increased and resulted in mutual cultural influence. There have been periods in which Chinese cultural influence in Europe was stronger than European influence in China, and other periods in which China was under the impact of European culture. Generally speak- ing, until about 1500 it was mainly China that influenced Europe (quite a number of Chinese inventions made their way to the West), whereas since then European influence in China has grown steadily. In most cases contacts on both sides were motivated by economic interests but these were invariably followed by cultural interests, at least on the European side. The Silk Road, e.g., came into exis- tence because of the need to transport commercial goods between Europe and China, but at the same time cultural assets were transported on this route and they, in fact, were of lasting impact.
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