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Ancient China: Dynasties

Xia Shang Zhou Spring and Autumn period Warring states and Qin Han 

Xia Dynasty was one of the most ancient dynasties of China established in 2070 BC.  Read more...

1766 BC: traditional date for the founding of the first historic dynasty in China, the Shang dynasty.  Read more...

The philosophers of Zhou’s period enunciated the doctrine of “mandate of the heaven: 


The period's name derives from the Spring and Autumn Annals, a chronicle of the state of Lu between 722 and 479 BC, which tradition associates with Confucius.  Read more...

Qin was one of the leading states in the “Warring States” period. Its origins can be traced back to the beginnings of the Eastern Zhou period, to 771 BC. 


202 BC: The Han dynasty founded, after several years of chaos following the fall of the Qin.

220 AD: the fall of the Han dynasty is a convenient marker for the end point of the ancient period of Chinese history.


Shang Dynasty

Shang (1766 - c.1040BCE) 

Excavations have confirmed descriptions in ancient Chinese literature of a highly developed culture. In addition to developing a writing system still in use today, the Shang created a lunar calendar consisting of twelve months of 30 days each. The Shang were distinguished by an aristocratic government, great artistry in bronze, an agricultural economy, and armies of thousands whose commanders rode in chariots. Read more...

Zhou Dynasty

(c.1040 - 256BCE) – The nomadic Zhou people from northwestern China overthrew the Shang kings. The Zhou developed a feudal society in China, but slowly lost power to local warlords. Read more...

  • In 771 BC, however, the Zhou capital was sacked by invaders, and the Zhou capital was moved further east. Read more...Chinese culture changed radically during this 770-year period, as power extended across family lines to create aristocratic cities and principalities; eventually, these separate states battled for dominance. Read more...
  • Also known as Western Zhou dynasty, founded after the overthrow of the last Shang king
  • 771 BC: Eastern Zhou dynasty period begins after the sack of the Western Zhou capital; the first phase is traditionally divided into two: the Spring and Autumn (771-481 BC) and the Warring States (481-221 BC) periods

Warring States


Qin Dynasty

Qin Dynasty (221-206BCE)

In 221 B.C., standardising Chinese were unified for the first time to construct a great country that ended the long era of disunity and warring. In that year the western frontier state of Qin, the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival state.
Centralization and autarchy were achieved by ruthless methods and standardising legal codes, bureaucratic procedures, the forms of writing and coinage, and the pattern of thought and scholarship. Read more.... Another resource

Qin Shih Huang

Qin Shih Huang 

221 BC: The First Emperor, Qin Shih Huang, completes the conquest of all other Chinese states. 

Other resources:

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