File - Mr. Tchakerian`s World History Class

Ancient China
China’s river valley civilizations built the foundations of a long-shared Chinese
culture. The achievements of the Shang and Zhou dynasties can be felt to this
Development of civilization
The first Chinese civilizations grew in river valleys created by:
The Chang Jiang river (AKA the Yangzi)
The Huang He River (AKA the Yellow River)
First civilization here was ruled by the Xia dynasty.
Annual floods left behind rich soil in both valleys.
The Huang He valley also benefited from losses
(a fine dusty soil carried into China by desert winds).
• Most of eastern China was covered with fertile soils; some
regions were better suited than others for growing certain crops.
• Southern China: warm, receives plenty of rainfall, excellent
region for growing rice.
• Northern China: climate cooler, drier; suitable for grains, wheat,
Isolation leads to development of Civilization
Mountains, hills and desert protected early Chinese civilizations from
Himalaya Mountains separate southern China from India, rest of southern
Asia; vast Gobi Desert prevented reaching China from west
• Archaeological discoveries suggest Chinese civilization began in
Huang He valley.
• People started growing crops there 9,000 years ago
• Developed small communities. With similar characteristics of other
developed civilizations.
First civilization?
Xia Dynasty
•Legend says earliest Chinese ruled by Xia dynasty
•No written, archaeological evidence Xia dynasty existed
•Most historians date beginning of Chinese civilization to rise of Shang dynasty
Shang Dynasty
Since no evidence if the Xia dynasty has been found, most historians
date Chinese civilization to the beginning of the Shang dynasty; around
1766 BC. Developed in the Hung He River Valley (Yellow River)
Most Shang kings ruled their capital of Anyang where they were
surrounded by a court (gathering of wealthy nobles).
Shang rulers appointed governors to keep order in distant parts of the
Shang Dynasty largely agricultural society
•Most citizens tended crops in fields
•Farmers called on to fight in army, work on building projects—
tombs, palaces, walls
The ruling elite had free time to pursue leisure activities,
hunting for sport, and art and writing.
Wealthy enjoyed collecting expensive bronze, jade objects
Daily life in the Shang Dynasty
What we know about the Shang comes from Artifacts
Afterlife was very important to the Shang: They believed in afterlife
where their rulers would need riches and servants for their afterlife.
Studying royal tombs that contained valuable items made of bronze,
jade, gold and other valuable items.
Were skilled at making items out of bronze
learned how to build huge structures and created a precise calendar
based on the cycles of the moon.
Shang Worshipped their Ancestors/relatives
Shang offered gifts to deceased ancestors to keep them happy in afterlife
For example people steamed meals in order to feed their ancestors’
Religion of the Shang Dynasty
People of the Shang Dynasty believed in many Gods.
They believed in the concept of Heaven and Hell.
However, they believed in order to maintain good fortune it was very important to
honor their relatives.
They would create shrines in their homes of deceased relatives.
They believed their relatives had interaction with the Gods and the looked out for
Through the use of Oracle bones they would preform rituals and try to communicate
with ancestors.
Inscribed bits of animal bone, turtle shell
Living person asked question of ancestor: seeking help and not to offend them.
Hot piece of metal applied to oracle bone resulting in cracks on bone’s surface
Specially trained priests interpreted meaning of cracks to learn answer
Shang Achievements and Decline
• Early Shang texts used picture symbols to represent objects, ideas
• Development of Chinese writing closely tied to use of oracle bones
• Earliest examples of Chinese writing are questions written on bones
• Shang religion led to great advances in working with bronze
• Highly decorative bronze vessels, objects created for religious rituals
• Also built huge structures like tombs; created calendar, first money systems
End of Dynasty
• Shang ruled for more than 600 years, until about 1100 BC
• Ruling China’s growing population proved too much for Shang
• Armies from nearby tribe, Zhou, invaded, established new ruling dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty
Beginning around 1100 BC, the Zhou Dynasty rules China for several centuries. The
dynasty is divided into two time periods. During the Western Zhou, kings ruled from
Xian in a peaceful period. Later conflict arose, kings moved east to Luoyang, beginning
the Eastern Zhou period.
• When Zhou conquered Shang,
leaders worried Chinese people
would not accept them.
Dynastic Cycle
• Zhou said Shang overthrown
because they lost gods’ favor
• Introduced idea they ruled by
Mandate of Heaven
• Later rulers used Mandate of
Heaven to explain dynastic cycle,
rise and fall of dynasties in China
• Gods would support just ruler, not
allow anyone corrupt to hold power
• If dynasty lost power, it obviously
had become corrupt
New rulers said, it was the will of the gods that that dynasty be overthrown and a
new one take power.
Zhou Achievements
• Before the Zhou, Chinese metalwork done almost exclusively in
bronze. The Zhou learned to use iron, became backbone of economy
• Iron was strong, could be cast more cheaply, quickly than bronze
• Iron weapons strengthened Zhou army, as did new weapons like
catapult and creation of China’s first cavalry
• Population grew under Zhou
• Farmers learned new techniques,
increased size of harvest, created
food surpluses; cities also grew
• Roads, canals allowed better
transportation, communication
• Introduced coins, use of chopsticks
Decline of the Zhou
• Conflict arose during latter part of
Zhou dynasty
• Clan leaders within China rose up
against king
• As time passed, more and more
local leaders turned against Zhou,
further weakening rule
End of the Zhou Dynasty
Result of rebellions was Warring States Period
403 BC to 221 BC, number of small states fought each other for
land, power due to poor leadership.
The last emperor of the Shang dynasty, Shang Chou, was a cruel
man known for his methods of torture. The dynasty had been
weakened by repeated battles with nomads and rivaling tribes
within China.
Zhou still nominally in charge, but power almost nonexistent by
mid-200s BC
Shang Chou was ousted by the rebel leader Wu-wang in 1111
Qin, new dynasty, arose to bring end to Warring States Period,
Zhou dynasty
End of Zhou period beginning of new
Effort to make sense of chaos
during the warring period led to
creation of many new Chinese
philosophies, or ways of looking
at the world.
Of the many philosophies
created during late Zhou period
only two became influential in
later Chinese history and world
• Confucianism
• Daoism
• Confucianism based on teachings of scholar named Kongfuzi, better known
as Confucius, who thought people should treat one another humanely.
• All people should express love, respect for others, and honor one’s ancestors
Love and Respect
• Believed that love, respect had disappeared and was responsible for
violence in society; restoring respect for tradition would make society stable
• Thoughts on how to improve society collected in book, Analects
Analects: Collected writings on how to improve society
• Ruler should treat subjects fairly; subjects reward ruler with respect, loyalty
• People should respect members of family, devote selves to public service
• Confucian ideas spread elsewhere in Asia, including Korea, Japan, Vietnam
Laozi & Daoism
• The name “Laozi” is best taken to mean “Old (lao) Master (zi),” and
Laozi the ancient philosopher is said to have written a short book,
which has come to be called simply the Laozi.
• He was among the first people in china to write about Daoist beliefs
in his book called Dao De Jing.
• Unlike Confucianism, which
focuses on improving society,
Daoism encourages people to
retreat from laws of society, yield to
law of nature
• Heart of Daoism is concept of the
dao, or the way
• Dao is the limitless force that is part
of all creation
• Through the dao, all things in
nature connected
• Finding one’s place in nature
allows person to achieve harmony
with universe
Yin and Yang
• Daoism embraced Chinese
concept of yin and yang,
representing balancing aspect of
nature—male, female; dark, light;
hot, cold
• Neither can exist without other
• Important for two to remain
balanced for perfect harmony
• Origins of Daoist teachings
attributed to philosopher named
• Wrote book called Dao De Jing
• Laozi worshipped by some as a
• Unlike Confucianism, which
focuses on improving society,
Daoism encourages people to
retreat from laws of society, yield to
law of nature
• Heart of Daoism is concept of the
Dao, or the way
• Dao is the limitless force that is part
of all creation
• Through the Dao, all things in
nature connected
• Finding one’s place in nature
allows person to achieve harmony
with universe
Yin and Yang
• Daoism embraced Chinese
concept of yin and yang,
representing balancing aspect of
nature—male, female; dark, light;
hot, cold
• Neither can exist without other
• Important for two to remain
balanced for perfect harmony
• Origins of Daoist teachings
attributed to philosopher named
• Wrote book called Dao De Jing
• Laozi worshipped by some as a
Daoism eventually proved less influential than
Confucianism in Chinese history
Still played major role in later dynasties
Idea of balance key concept in China for centuries as result of
Daoist teaching
Daoist philosophy led many followers to work for preservation,
protection of natural environment
The Qin Dynasty
Zhou dynasty began to decline around 400 BC, power shifted to
local nobles.
• Several small states battled for land, power by 300s
• The state of Qin rose to power
• Located on China’s western frontier
• Conquered other states in military campaigns
• Last rival state fell, 221 BC
• Qin created the first true unified Chinese empire
Harsh Qin Rule
• First ruler of new empire took title Shi Huangdi, “first emperor”
• Unified China with help of two advisors, Hanfeizi and Li Si
• Founded school of Legalism
• Taught that powerful, efficient government key to maintaining order
Rejection of Confucianism
• Legalists rejected philosophy developed during Zhou dynasty
• Confucianists thought rulers should be virtuous, lead by example
• Legalists said rulers should be strong, govern through force
• Supported strict laws, stressed harsh punishment for even minor
Strong, Centralized Government
• Shi Huangdi weakened rival nobles by taking land
• Forced nobles to move to capital so he could watch them
• Seized all private arms to prevent rebellions
• Divided China into 36 districts, appointed loyalists to govern them
Maintaining Order
• Shi Huangdi ruthlessly suppressed all criticism of his rule
• Ordered burning of books which conflicted with Legalist thinking
• Only books on practical subjects like agriculture, medicine spared
• Confucian scholars who discussed banned books, criticized Qin
government tortured, killed
The Qin Dynasty
Qin Reforms
• Harsh Qin rule unified, strengthened China
• Standardized laws, writings, monetary systems, weights and measures
• Also standardized width of cart axles, so all carts could travel China’s roads
Massive Building Projects
• Improved irrigation system and increased farm production
• Expanded network of roads and canals to link capital to other parts of empire
• Improved transportation, increased trade, levied heavy taxes
Qin Growth and Defense
• Worked to protect empire from outside threats
• Qin army pushed nomadic warriors farther north, subdued areas to south
• Joined separate defensive walls, came to be known as Great Wall of China
Fall of the Qin
• Dynasty’s policies fueled anger, resentment through out the
• Qin dynasty crumbled after Shi Huangdi died, 210 BC
• Peasants fed up with forced labor, high taxes, rebelled
• Nobles eager to regain land, power, raised armies against
new emperor
• Peasant rebel leader Liu Bang.
• Desert from his duty to put down rebels and then won
over the rebels and defeated Qin forces
• He founded Han dynasty
The Han Dynasty
The Han dynasty ruled China from 206 BC to AD 220—more than 400
years. It would be the model for all later Chinese dynasties.
Restoring Control
• Liu Bang ruled with “mandate
of heaven”(approval of Gods)
• Ancient Chinese beliefs:
– Gods supported virtuous
– Opposed corrupt ones
– Defeated ruler had lost
support of the gods
– Qin ruler defeated by Liu
Gaining Loyalty
• Liu Bang softened harsh
Legalist policies
• Lowered taxes, earned loyalty
of peasants
• Gave large blocks of land to
relatives, military supporters
• Distribution of land earned
military’s loyalty
The Han Dynasty
• Liu Bang continued Qin’s
strong, centralized government
to weaken rivals
• Expanded bureaucracyGovernment positions
• Numerous officials appointed to
oversee administration of Han
• Helped restore stability to
Chinese empire
• Liu Bang not well educated,
peasant origins
• Appointed Confucian scholars
to advise, serve in government
• Confucianism regained
popularity, shaped Han
• Some Legalist policies
remained, maintained firm
control over empire
A Powerful Empress
Liu Bang died 195 BC
• Young son took throne, but too young to rule
• His mother, Empress Lü, ruled in his place
• Only one of Liu Bang’s many wives, Lü plotted for son to be emperor
Family interests
• After son gained throne, Empress Lü promoted family’s interests
• Had series of infants named emperor after son died young
• Maintained power for 15 years
Power play
• Empress Lü died, 180 BC; officials had entire Lü family killed
• Power plays and court intrigues common during Han, later dynasties
• Court plots were distracting, made effective rule difficult
The Greatest Han Emperor
Height of Han Dynasty
Emperor Wudi ruled from 141 to 187 BC
Energetic, aggressive, considered greatest of all Han rulers
Promoted economic growth
New roads, canals made it easier to get products to market
Monopolies on some products; limits on merchants to limit power, wealth
Government Philosophy
• Wudi wanted officials to hold
Confucian values
• Developed civil service system
• Candidates had to pass exam in
Confucian classics
• Wealthy, influential families
continued to control government
• Biggest threat to Wudi’s security
from nomads in steppes north of
China, Xiongnu
• Excellent horse skills, fierce
• Swept in from steppes, raided
settlements along China’s frontier
Expansion under Wudi
Wudi expanded empire through warfare
Began to use force against southern Xiongnu tribes, 133 BC
Formed alliances with Xiongnu enemies, began to weaken Xiongnu tribes
Colonized parts of Korea, Manchuria to northeast, Vietnam to south;
extended control into Central Asia to west, opened trade routes
Han Decline
• Brief crisis AD 9 when rebel Wang
Mang seized throne
• Han regained control, AD 25, start
of Later Han dynasty
• Later Han weakened by court
intrigues, gap between rich and
poor, high taxes crushing poor
Yellow Turbans revolted AD 184
Threw empire into chaos
Power shifted to local warlords
Warfare tore region apart
China began turbulent era, Period
of Division, which would last 350
The Tang Dynasty
Period of Brilliance
• Tang dynasty ruled 618 to 907; Chinese influence spread
• China experienced period of brilliance, prosperity, cultural achievement
• Government, other institutions served as models across East Asia
Built on Sui Foundations
• Established capital at Chang’an, Sui capital
• Second capital located at Luoyang
• Government control remained centralized, based on bureaucracy of officials
Civil Service
• To obtain talented officials, Tang expanded civil service examination system
• People had to pass written exams to work for government
• Created flexible law code; model for law codes in Korea, Japan
Achievements of the Tang & Song Dynasty
The study of medicine is one of the highest contributions of
Tang Dynasty as it is practiced worldwide. The use of herbs
or organic materials for medicine was developed and spread
by this empire.
Porcelain: used for Chinese artisans for ceramics and plate
Magnetic compass: finding true north.
The study of Alchemy led to the development of Gun powder
and fire works.
Wood block print. Leading to the beginnings of mass printing
before Europeans invented the printing press.
Song Dynasty made improvements on this technology.
The Song Dynasty
After Tang Dynasty
• China split apart after Tang
• Did not reunify until 960 with
Song dynasty
• Song ruled for about 300 years,
created achievement, prosperity
• Under Song, Chinese
civilization became most
advanced in world
Government and Civil Service
• Song established capital at
Kaifeng, restored centralized
government control
• Enlarged government
bureaucracy, reformed civil
service examination system
• Neo-Confucianism gained
favor, emphasizing Confucian
ethics, spiritual matters

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