Prehistory | Ancient Bronze Age | The Shang Dynasty (ca. 1570 BCE- 1045 BCE) | The Zhou Dynasty (1045- 256 BCE) | Western Zhou (1045 BCE- 771 BCE) | Eastern Zhou (770 BCE- 256 BCE) | Spring and Autumn Period (770 BCE- 403 BCE) | The Hundred Schools of Thought | Warring States Period (403 BCE- 221 BCE) | The First Imperial Period (221 BCE- 220 CE) | Era of Disunity (220 CE- 589 CE) | Restoration of Empire (589 CE- 1279 CE)

  1. Prehistory
    • Paleolithic period
      • Bands of hunter gatherers lived in what is now China
      • Homo- erectus first appeared in China about 1 million years ago
      • Modern Humans first appeared about 200,000 years ago
    • Agriculture
      • 10,000 BCE
        • Humans in China begin developing agriculture
        • Influenced by developments in SE Asia
        • Neolithic settlements begin to appear around China
      • 5,000 BCE
        • Millet is the primary crop in the north and northwest
        • Production of rice began in paddies along the Yangtze River in the central areas
          • Food supplemented with fish and aquatic plants
        • Domestication of dogs, pigs, cattle
      • 3,000 BCE
        • Sheep in the north
        • Water buffalo in the south
    • Neolithic Period
      • 4,000 BCE- 2,000 BCE
        • Northern cultures
          • Decoration of red pottery using black pigment in the form of spirals, sawtooth lines, zoomorphic stick figures
        • Eastern cultures
          • Pottery formed out of different shapes, three legged tripod vessels
          • Jade ornaments, blades, ritual objects used
        • Beginnings of stamped- earth fortified walls, indicates contact and conflict with other settlements
      • Chinese civilization develops out of repeated and frequent contact with other settlements

     

  2. Ancient Bronze Age
    • Series of legendary rulers
      • The Yellow Lord (Huang Di)
        • Invented key features of Chinese civilization
          • Agriculture, the family, silk, boats, carts, the calendar and bows and arrows
      • Last of these kings was Yu
        • The people chose his son to lead them
          • Established principle of hereditary, dynastic rule
        • Descendants created the Xia dynasty
    • Xia Dynasty 2205? BCE- 1570? BCE
      • Said to have lasted 14 generations
      • May correspond to the first phases of the transition to the Bronze Age
      • Between 2000 BCE and 1600 BCE more complex Bronze Age civilizations emerged from Neolithic cultures in northern China
        • Marked by writing, metalwork, domestication of horses, a class system, and stable political, religious hierarchy
        • Developed both a writing system and a bronze technology with little stimulus from outside
        • Other elements of early Chinese civilization reached China from places to the west
          • Spoke-wheeled horse chariot
      • No written documents link the earliest Bronze Age sites to the Xia
      • Superseded by Shang Dynasty

     

  3. The Shang Dynasty (1570?-1045? BCE)
    • The Shang King
      • Religious and political head of the society
        • Rule based equally on religious, military power
        • Played priestly role in worship of ancestors, high god Di
      • Made animal sacrifices, communicated with ancestors by interpreting cracks on heated cattle bones or tortoise shells
        • Prepared by professional diviners
      • Royal ancestors were viewed as able to intervene with Di, send curses, produce dreams, assist king in battle
      • Ruled through dynastic alliances, divination, royal journeys, hunts, military campaigns
      • Used huge numbers of workers to construct defensive walls, elaborate tombs
      • Buried with ritual vessels, weapons, jades, numerous servants, sacrificial victims
        • Suggests belief of afterlife
    • Often at war with neighboring peoples
      • Could mobilize large armies for warfare
      • Moved their capital several times
    • Directly controlled only the central part of China proper
      • Modern Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Anhui, Shanxi and Hebei provinces
      • Influence extended beyond the states borders
        • Art motifs are often found in artifacts from more-distant regions
    • Bronze Industry
      • Required centralized coordination of large labor force to mine, refine, transport copper, tin, lead ores; produce and transport charcoal
      • Required technically skilled artisans to make clay models, construct ceramic molds, assemble and finish vessels
        • Largest weighed as much as 800 kg (1,800 lb)
      • Used bronze more for purposes of ritual than war
        • Cups, goblets, steamers, cauldrons
          • Made for use in sacrificial rituals
          • Decorated with images of wild animals
          • 200 bronze vessels might be buried in single royal grave
    • Shang Writing
      • Writing system used is direct ancestor of modern Chinese writing system
        • Symbols, characters for each word
        • Never became purely phonetic system like Roman alphabet
      • Mastering written language required learning to recognize, write several thousand characters
        • Literacy a highly specialized skill requiring many years to fully master

     

  4. The Zhou Dynasty (1045?-256 BCE)
    • Defeated Shang as frontier state called Zhou
    • The Zhou kings sacrificed to their ancestors, also sacrificed to Heaven (Tian)
    • The Mandate of Heaven (Tian Ming)
      • Close relationship between Heaven, king
      • King called the Son of Heaven
      • Heaven gives king mandate to rule, in best interest of subjects
      • Last Shang king decadent, cruel to subjects
        • Lost Mandate of Heaven
    • Zhou history
      • Version described in Shu jing (Book of History)
        • Earliest transmitted texts
        • Praises first three Zhou rulers
          • King Wen (the Cultured King)
            • Expanded the Zhou domain
          • Son of King Wen, King Wu (the Martial King)
            • Conquered the Shang
          • Brother of King Wu, Zhou Gong (referred to as Duke of Zhou)
            • Consolidated the conquest, served as loyal regent for Wus heir
      • The Shi jing (Book of Poetry)
        • 305 poems include odes celebrating exploits of early Zhou rulers
        • Hymns for sacrificial ceremonies, folk songs
          • Folk songs are about ordinary people in everyday situations
            • Working in fields, spinning, weaving, marching on campaigns, longing for lovers, etc.
            •  
    • Traditionally divided into two periods
      • Western Zhou (1045?-771 BCE)
        • Capital near modern Xian in west
        • Age when family relationships honored, social status distinctions stressed
        • Early Zhou rulers did not attempt to control entire region conquered
        • Secured position by selecting loyal supporters, relatives to rule walled towns and surrounding territories
          • Rulers known as Vassals
            • Lands could be passed hereditarily
            • Domain became vassal state
              • Noble houses within held hereditary titles
          • Rulers of states, members of nobility linked both to one another, ancestors by bonds of obligation based on kinship
          • Below nobility were officers (shi), peasants
            • Also hereditary statuses
        • Zhou kings maintained control over vassals for two centuries
          • Ties of kinship, vassalage weakened
          • Several states rebelled, joined non-Chinese forces, drove Zhou from their capital, 770 BCE
      • Eastern Zhou (770 BCE- 256 BCE)
        • Capital was moved east to modern Luoyang
        • Eastern Zhou kings no longer exercised political or military authority over vassal states
          • Continued as nominal overlords
          • Recognized as Mandate of Heaven custodians
          • No single feudal state was strong enough to dominate others
        • Divided into two sub periods
          • Spring and Autumn Period (770 BCE- 403 BCE)
          • Warring States Period (403 BCE- 221 BCE)
      • Spring and Autumn Period (770 BCE- 403 BCE)
        • Known as China's Golden Age of Philosophy
        • Period witnessed social, economic, military advances
          • Iron-tipped, ox-drawn plows; improved irrigation techniques produced higher agricultural yields
          • Supported steady population growth
          • Circulation of coins for money
          • Private ownership of land
          • Growth of cities
          • Crossbow, methods of siege warfare developed
          • Cavalry warfare adopted from nomads in north
          • Breakdown of old class barriers
          • Development of conscripted infantry armies
        • Brief periods of stability were achieved through alliances among states in 6th, 7th centuries BCE
          • Under domination of strongest member
          • By late 5th century BCE, alliances too complex to maintain
      • The Hundred Schools of Thought
        • Confucius
          • Wrote Analects
        • Mencius
          • Declared, 'Humanity is naturally good'
        • Xun Zi
          • Opposed Mencius teaching
          • Developed doctrine known as 'Legalism'
        • Daoism (Taoism)
          • Set forth in the Daodejing (Classic of the Way and Its Power)
            • Attributed to Lao Zi (ca. 579 BCE- 490 BCE), Zhuangzi (369 BCE- 286 BCE)
        • Yin- Yang
          • Theories of this school explained universe in terms of basic forces in nature, the complementary agents
        • Mo Zi (ca. 470 BCE- 391 BCE)
          • Believed that "all men are equal before God"
      • Warring States Period (403 BCE- 221 BCE)
        • Kings political authority declined
        • States on the periphery of old heartland gained power
          • Had room to expand territory
        • States of Chao, Yen, Qin expanded outward
          • Extended Chinese cultural influence into larger area
        • Southern state of Chu
          • Expanded rapidly in Yangtze Valley
          • Defeated and absorbed at least 50 small states
          • Extended its reach north to the heartland of the Zhou territory
          • Extended east to absorb the old states of Wu and Yue
          • On forefront of cultural innovation by 3rd century BCE
            • Produced greatest literary masterpieces
              • Later collected in the Chu ci (Songs of the South)
                • Anthology of fantastical poems

     

  5. The First Imperial Period (221 BCE- 220 CE)
    • Qin Dynasty
      • Qin Shihuangdi unified former warring states into what is considered China
        • Manufactured Terra- Cotta army for burial tomb near Xi'an
      • Western word for China derived from the name, Qin
      • Great Wall of China constructed
      • Lasted 20 years after death of first emperor
      • Imperial system
    • Han Dynasty
      • Modified some harsher aspects of previous dynasty
      • Civil service examination system initiated
      • Period produced China's most famous historian, Sima Qian (ca. 145 BCE- 87 BCE)
        • Authored Shiji (Historical Records)
          • provides detailed chronicle from time of a legendary Xia emperor to the Han emperor Wu Di (141 BCE- 87 BCE)
      • Paper, porcelain invented during Han Dynasty
      • Majority of Chinese 'Han', named after period
      • The Silk Road established trade routs to West, Roman Empire
      • Complex dynastic system resulted in corruption, end of Han Dynasty

     

  6. Era of Disunity (220 CE- 589 CE)
    • Collapse Han dynasty followed by nearly four centuries of rule by warlords
    • Age of civil wars, disunity began with era of the Three Kingdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu, which had overlapping reigns during the period 220 CE- 80 CE)
    • Unity was restored briefly in early years of Jin dynasty (265 CE- 420 CE)
      • Could not contain Nomadic peoples
      • Jin court was forced to flee from Luoyang
      • Reestablished at Nanjing in 317 CE
      • Buddhism introduced into China in 1st century CE
      • Invention of gunpowder, wheelbarrow dates from 6th or 7th century CE
      •  Advances in medicine, astronomy, cartography also noted during period

     

  7. Restoration of Empire (589 CE- 1279 CE)
    • Sui dynasty (581 CE- 617 CE)
      • Compared to the earlier Qin dynasty in tenure and the ruthlessness of its accomplishments
      • Demise was attributed to the government's tyrannical demands on the people
    • Tang dynasty (618 CE- 907 CE)
      • Capital at Chang'an
      • Regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization
      • Equal, or even superior, to the Han period
      • Contact with India and the Middle East
      • Buddhism flourished
      • Block printing invented
      • Scholar- officials appear
        • Functioned as intermediaries between grass-roots level and government from then until 1912
      • Tang power ebbs, middle of the 8th century CE
        • Domestic economy unstable
      • Military defeat in 751 by Arabs at Talas, in Central Asia
        • Beginning of five centuries of steady military decline for Chinese empire
      • Popular rebellions weaken empire
      • Northern invaders terminate dynasty in 907
    • Five northern dynasties and ten southern kingdoms
    • Song dynasty (960- 1279)
      • Reunified most of China Proper
      • Development of cities as centers of trade, industry, and maritime commerce
      • The mercantile class appears
        • Landholding and government employment no longer the only means of gaining wealth and prestige
      • Divided into two phases
        • Northern Song (960- 1127)
        • Southern Song (1127- 1279)
          • Division caused by forced abandonment of north China in 1127 by Song court
      • Refinement of historical writings, painting, calligraphy, and hard-glazed porcelain
      • Decline of Buddhism
        • Renewed interest in Confucian ideals and society of ancient times
      • Zhu Xi (1130- 1200)
        • Most influential philosopher of Song Neo-Confucian philosophers
        • Synthesis of Confucian thought, Buddhist, Taoist, and other ideas becomes official imperial ideology from late Song times to late 19th century
        • Neo-Confucian doctrines play dominant role in intellectual life of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan
    • Mid-13th century
      • Mongols subjugate north China, Korea, the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia
      • Kublai Khan (1215- 1294)
        • Grandson of Genghis Khan (ca. 1167- 1227), supreme leader of all Mongol tribes
        • Begins drive against Southern Song
        • Establishes Yan dynasty (1279-1368)
          • First alien dynasty to rule all China