Complete History of Chinese Civilization, Read This

 Complete History of Chinese Civilization, Read This

Territory ruled by various dynasties as well as modern states throughout Chinese history.

The history of China is one of the oldest cultural histories in the world. From archaeological and anthropological findings, the area of ​​China has been inhabited by early humans since 1.7 million years ago. Chinese civilization originated in various city-states along the Yellow River valley in the Neolithic era. Chinese written history begins with the Shang Dynasty (c. 1750 BC – 1045 BC).[1] A tortoise shell with ancient Chinese inscriptions dating from the Shang Dynasty has radiocarbon dating to 1500 BC.[2] Chinese culture, literature, and philosophy developed during the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC) which continued the Shang Dynasty. This dynasty was the longest ruling dynasty and it was during this dynasty that modern Chinese writing began to develop.

The Zhou dynasty split into several city states, creating the Warring States Period. In 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang united these various kingdoms and founded China's first empire. The successive dynasties in Chinese history have developed a bureaucratic system that allowed the Emperors of China to have direct control over large areas.

The conventional view of Chinese history is that China was a country that alternated between periods of political unity and division at times ruled by foreigners, most of whom were assimilated into the Han population. Cultural and political influences from various parts of Asia, brought about by alternating waves of immigration, expansion, and assimilation, coalesced to form modern Chinese culture.

Homo erectus has inhabited the area now known as China since the Paleolithic era, more than a million years ago [3]. Studies show that the stone tools found at the Xiaochangliang site are 1.36 million years old [4]. The Xihoudu archaeological site in Shanxi province shows the earliest recorded use of fire by Homo erectus, dating back 1.27 million years [3]. Excavations at Yuanmou and Lantian show earlier settlements. The most famous Homo erectus specimen found in China is Peking Man discovered in 1965.

Three pottery fragments dating to 16500 and 19000 BC were found in Liyuzui Cave in Liuzhou, Guangxi province [5].

Chinese Neolithic Pottery.

The Neolithic Age in China can be traced back to 10,000 BC [6]. The earliest evidence of millet farming has radiocarbon dating to around 7000 BC [7]. The Peiligang Culture in Xinzheng, Henan was successfully excavated in 1977 [8]. With the development of agriculture came an increase in population, the ability to store and distribute crops, as well as artisans and managers [9]. At the end of the Neolithic, the Yellow River valley began to develop into a cultural center with significant archaeological discoveries discovered at Banpo, Xi'an [10]. The Yellow River is so named due to the presence of sedimentary dust (loess) that has accumulated on the banks of the river and the surrounding soil, which then after being immersed in the river causes a yellowish color to the river water.[11]

Early Chinese history is complicated by the paucity of writings in this period and later documents that mix fact and fiction at this time. In 7000 BC, the Chinese cultivated millet, cultivating the Jiahu culture. At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cave paintings dating from 6000–5000 BC were found that are similar to early characters that were confirmed as Chinese writing [12][13]. The later Yangshao culture was continued by the Longshan culture around 2500 BC.
Ancient times
Xia Dynasty (2100 BC-1600 BC)

Xia's territory

The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty to be described in historical records such as the Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals.[1][14] This dynasty was founded by Yu the Great. Most archaeologists now attribute the Xia Dynasty to excavations at Erlitou, Henan province,[15] which contain smelted bronze from around 2000 BC. Various markings on pottery and shells found from this period are thought to be the precursor forms of modern Chinese script.[16]

According to the traditional chronology based on Liu Xin's calculations, this dynasty ruled between 2205 BC and 1766 BC, while according to the Bamboo Annals, it ruled between 1989 BC and 1558 BC. According to the Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project organized by the government of the People's Republic of China in 1996, this dynasty reigned between 2070 BC and 1600 BC.[17][18]
Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC)
According to traditional sources, the Shang dynasty was the first dynasty of China. According to the chronology based on Liu Xin's calculations, this dynasty reigned between 1766 BC and 1122 BC, while according to the Bamboo Annals it was between 1556 BC and 1046 BC. The results of the People's Republic of China's Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project in 1996 concluded that this dynasty ruled between 1600 BC and 1046 BC. Direct information about the dynasty comes from inscriptions on bronze artefacts and oracle bones,[19] as well as from Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji).

Archaeological finds provide evidence of the existence of the Shang Dynasty around 1600-1046 BC, which is divided into two periods. Evidence for the existence of the early Shang Dynasty (c. 1600-1300 BC) comes from discoveries at Erlitou, Zhengzhou and Shangcheng.[19] Meanwhile, evidence for the existence of the second period of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1300–1046 BC) or Yin period (殷), comes from large collections of inscriptions on oracle bones. Archaeologists confirm that the city of Anyang in Henan province was the last capital of the Shang dynasty,[19] of the nine capitals. The Shang Dynasty was ruled by 31 kings, from King Tang to King Zhou as the last king. Today's Chinese people believe in many gods, including the gods of the weather and sky, as well as a supreme god called Shang-Ti.[20] They also believe that their ancestors,

Western scholars tend to be hesitant to attribute settlements to the contemporary Anyang settlement as part of the Shang dynasty.[22] The strongest hypothesis is that there was co-existence between Anyang, which was ruled by the Shang Dynasty, and other cultural settlements in the area now known as "real China" (China proper).
Zhou dynasty (1046 BC–256 BC)

Ritual vessel (You), from the time of the Western Zhou Dynasty.

A pu vessel with a dragon design, from the Spring and Autumn Ages.

The Zhou dynasty was the longest-ruling dynasty in Chinese history, according to the Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project, reigning between 1046 BC and 256 BC. This dynasty began to grow from the valley of the Yellow River, west of the Shang. The Zhou ruler, Wu Wang, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye. During the Zhou Dynasty, the concept of "Mandate of Heaven" began to be known as the legitimacy for a change of power,[23] and this concept continued to influence almost every change of dynasty in China. The Zhou capital was originally in the west, near the modern city of Xi'an, but there was a series of expansions into the Yangtze River valley. In Chinese history, this was the beginning of further population migrations from north to south.
Spring and Autumn Period (722 BC-476 BC)
Around the 8th century BC, there was a decentralization of power in the Spring and Autumn Period, named after the literary work Chun Qiu (Spring and Autumn). During this time, the local military leaders employed by Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony. Invasions from the northwest, for example by Qin, forced Zhou to move his capital east, that is, to Luoyang. This marked the second phase of the Zhou dynasty: Eastern Zhou. Hundreds of states sprang up, some of which were as small as a village in size, with local rulers wielding full political power and sometimes using honorific titles for themselves. The Hundred Schools of Thought of Chinese philosophy flourished during this time, along with several influential intellectual movements such as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, and Mohism.[24]
Warring States Period (476 BC-221 BC)
After various political consolidations, seven prominent states survived by the end of the 5th century BC. Although there were still kings from the Zhou dynasty to 256 BC, he was only a nominal ruler with no real power. At that time, the neighboring areas of the warring countries were also conquered and became new territories, including Sichuan and Liaoning; which were then administered under a new local administrative system of commanderies and prefectures (郡县/郡县). The state of Qin successfully unified the seven existing states, and expanded into areas of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, and Guangxi in 214 BC.[25] The period when nations were at war with each other until the unification of all of China by the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC, is known as the "Warring States Period",
Imperial era
justify;">Dinasti Qin (221 SM–206 SM)

Qin Shi Huang

The Qin dynasty managed to unify China which had split into several kingdoms in the Warring States Period through a series of conquests against other kingdoms, with the final conquest being the kingdom of Qi around 221 BC.[25] Qin Shi Huang was crowned the first emperor of unified China that year. This dynasty is famous for starting the construction of the Great Wall of China which was later completed by the Ming Dynasty as well as the Terracotta remains in the tomb of Qin Shi Huang.

Some of the major contributions of the Qin dynasty, among others, include establishing the concept of centralized government, unification of laws, adoption of a written language, units of measurement, and a common currency throughout China, following the passing of the tribulation years of the Spring and Autumn Ages. Even things as basic as the length of axles for trade carts, were then subjected to uniformity in order to ensure the development of a sound trading system throughout the empire.[26]
Han dynasty (206 BC–220)

Han Dynasty oil lantern, 2nd century BC.

The Han dynasty was founded by Liu Bang, a farmer who led a popular uprising and brought down the previous dynasty, the Qin dynasty, in 206 BC. The reign of the Han Dynasty was divided into two periods, namely the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC – 9) and the Eastern Han Dynasty (23 – 220) which were separated by the short period of the Xin Dynasty (9 – 23).

Emperor Wu (Han Wudi 漢武帝/汉武帝) succeeded in cementing unity and expanding the Chinese empire by pushing the Xiongnu (often equated with the Huns) into the steppes of Inner Mongolia, thereby seizing the territories of Gansu, Ningxia, and Qinghai. This led to the opening for the first time trade between China and Europe, through the Silk Road. General Ban Chao of the Han dynasty even extended his conquests across the Pamir mountains to the Caspian Sea.[27] The first embassy from the Roman Empire recorded in Chinese sources was first opened (by sea) in 166, and the second in 284.
Age of the Three Kingdoms (220–280)
The Three Kingdoms Age (Wei, Wu, and Shu) was a period of Chinese disunity that took place after the loss of the de facto power of the Han Dynasty. It is generally considered to be from the founding of Wei (220) to the conquest of Wu by the Jin dynasty (280), although many Chinese historians consider it to have spanned from the Yellow Turban Rebellion (184).
Jin Dynasty and Sixteen Kingdoms (280-420)
China was temporarily unified in 280 by the Jin dynasty. Despite this, ethnic groups outside the Han (Wu Hu) still controlled most of the territory in the early 4th century, causing a large migration of Han people south of the Yangtze River. The northern part of China was divided into smaller states which formed a turbulent era known as the Age of Sixteen Kingdoms (304 – 469).

Limestone Bodhisattva statue, Northern Qi Dynasty, 570 AD, Henan province.
Northern and Southern Dynasties (420–589)
Following the collapse of the Eastern Jin Dynasty in 420, China entered the era of the Northern and Southern Dynasties. This era was a time of civil war and political division, although it was also a time of flourishing arts and culture, technological advances, and the spread of Buddhism and Taoism.
Sui dynasty (589–618)
After nearly four centuries of division, the Sui dynasty reunited China in 589 with the conquest of the Chen dynasty in the south by Yang Jian, the founder of the Sui dynasty. This dynasty's period of power was marked, among other things, by the construction of the Great Canal of China and the establishment of many governmental institutions which would later be adopted by the Tang Dynasty.
Tang dynasty (618–907)
On June 18, 618, Li Yuan ascended the throne and started the era of the Tang Dynasty which replaced the Sui Dynasty. This era was a period of prosperity and development of Chinese art and technology. Buddhism became the main religion followed by the royal family as well as the common people. From around 860, the Tang dynasty began to decline due to the emergence of rebellions.
Five Dynasties and Ten Countries (907–960)
Between 907 and 960, from the collapse of the Tang Dynasty to the rise of the Song Dynasty, there was a period of political division known as the Age of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms. During this relatively short period, five dynasties (Liang, Tang, Jin, Han, and Zhou) took turns controlling the heart of the old empire in northern China. At the same time, ten other small states (Wu, Wuyue, Min, Nanping, Chu, Southern Tang, Southern Han, Northern Han, Early Shu, and Later Shu) ruled in south and west of China.
Song, Liao, Jin, and Western Xia dynasties (960-1279)
Between 960 and 1279, China was ruled by several dynasties. In 960, the Song dynasty (960-1279) whose capital was Kaifeng controlled most of China and began a period of economic prosperity. The territory of Manchuria (now known as Mongolia) was ruled by the Liao Dynasty (907-1125) which was later replaced by the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Meanwhile, the northwestern region of China, now known as the provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, was ruled by the Western Xia dynasty between 1032 and 1227.
Yuan dynasty (1279–1368)

Kublai Khan, founder of the Yuan Dynasty

Between 1279 and 1368, China was ruled by the Yuan dynasty, which originated in Mongolia and was founded by Kublai Khan. This dynasty ruled China after successfully overthrowing the Jin dynasty in the north before moving south and ending the rule of the Song dynasty. This dynasty was the first to rule all of China from the capital Beijing.

Before the Mongol invasion, reports from the Chinese dynasties estimate there were around 120 million inhabitants; but after the conquest was completely completed in 1279, the 1300 census put it at 60 million.[28] Likewise, during the Yuan Dynasty, an epidemic occurred in the 14th century in the form of bubonic plague (Black Death), and it is estimated that 30% of China's population was killed at that time.[29][30]
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Throughout the reign of the Yuan dynasty, there was quite strong opposition to this foreign power among the people. This sentiment, coupled with frequent natural disasters from the 1340s on, eventually led to a peasant uprising that overthrew the Yuan dynasty. Zhu Yuanzhang of the Han tribe founded the Ming Dynasty after successfully driving out the Yuan Dynasty in 1368.

In 1449 Esen Tayisi led an Oirat Mongol invasion of northern China which culminated in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu. In 1542, Altan Khan led the Mongols in a continuous harassment on China's northern borders, and in 1550 he successfully raided as far as the outskirts of Beijing. The Ming Dynasty Empire also faced attacks by Japanese pirates along China's southeastern coastline;[31] General Qi Jiguang's role was crucial in defeating these pirate attacks. In 1556, the Shaanxi earthquake killed around 830,000 people, which occurred during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor.

During the Ming Dynasty, the final construction of the Great Wall of China was completed, as a safeguard for China against invasions from foreign nations. Although construction began in earlier times, in fact most of the walls seen today have been built or repaired by the Ming Dynasty. The brick and granite buildings have been expanded, the watchtowers redesigned and cannons lined up along the sides.
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)

French political cartoon, late 1890s. Cakes representing China were divided between England, Germany, Russia, France and Japan.

The Qing dynasty (清朝, 1644–1911) was founded following the defeat of the Ming dynasty, the last dynasty of Han China, by the Manchu tribe (滿族,满族) from northeastern China in 1644. This dynasty was the last feudal dynasty to rule China. It is estimated that around 25 million people died during the Manchu conquest of the Ming dynasty (1616-1644).[32] The Manchus then adopted Confucian values ​​in their government, as was the tradition carried out by the governments of the previous native Chinese dynasties.

During the Taiping Rebellion (1851–1864), a third of China's territory briefly fell under the control of the Taiping Tianguo, a quasi-Christian religious movement led by Hong Xiuquan who called himself the "King of the Heavens". After fourteen years, the rebellion was finally suppressed, the Taiping army was destroyed in the Third Nanking War in 1864. The deaths that occurred during the 15 years of the rebellion were estimated at 20 million people.[33]

Several rebellions which claimed even greater loss of life and property later occurred, namely the Punti-Hakka Tribal War, the Nien Rebellion, the Hui Minority Rebellion, the Panthay Rebellion, and the Boxer Rebellion.[34] In many ways, these rebellions and the unfair treaties that were successfully imposed by foreign imperialist powers on the Qing dynasty, were signs of the Qing dynasty's inability to deal with the new challenges that emerged in the 19th century.