China Notes

By Gerald Andrews,2014-07-14 16:57
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China Notes

Ancient China Notes


    - Huang He River aka Yellow River - 2109 miles long

    - Chang Jiang (Yangtze River)

    - 2432 miles long

    - roughly the width of the 48 continental US

    - (Nile 4000 mi, Indus 1800 mi)

    - origin in the Plateau of Tibet - major force in China’s history

    - flooding seasons contribute to fertile soils of plains

    : - world’s largest delta

    - created by river silt

    - farmer’s began using this land around 4000 BC


    - river curves around Ordos Desert - mountains surrounding desert created by river silt

    - river silt called LOESS

    - LOESS dusty, yellow soil that has been deposited in this region

    by wind

    - Huang He is world’s muddiest river - loess deposited in valley by seasonal flooding

    - Has created very fertile soil

    - Ancient farmers used LEVEES to control flooding of river - Crops grown in valley include: rice, millet, wheat, green onions,


    - Also grapes, peaches, plums and chestnuts


    - the wearing away of land by the elements (wind and water)

    - caused by the clearing of land because of the population boom in


    - wearing away of fertile soil contributed to famine

    - famine- a time when very little food is available and people starve

    - steppes a dry, treeless plain - People who lived on these plains herded cattle and sheep

    The First Dynasty

    - 3000 BC China begins to divide into states

    - large cities begin to form within these states

    - they become state capitals

    - 1700 BC one state became the largest, most powerful

    - Shang become the states name and capital city

    - a dynasty ruled the city/state of Shang

    - Dynasty a line of rulers who belong to the same family - Shang Dynasty ruled for 600 years


    - kingdom of China spread with the increase in population

    - cities and states began to form along the Huang River

    - Nobles ruled these cities

    - Nobles were relatives of the king and his family given the rule of

    the city by him

    - they ruled the cities in the mold of the king

    - towns were important parts of the kingdom

    - they provided centers of production for the state and the entire


    - towns produced food, clothing, and other products for the king and


    - in an event of the outbreak of war, the townspeople fought for the

    king and nobles of the states


    - during the end of the Shang Dynasty, the capital moved to Anyang

    - this city provides the greatest clues to Ancient China

    - “pithouses” existed here

    - pithouses served as homes and workshops for the inhabitants of


    - within these houses, metal workers and potters perfected their



    - Ancient Chinese society was set up like that of Ancient Egypt - Pyramid shape, best describes the society:







    Fu Hao “Lady Hao”

    - wife of Shang Dynasty king Wu Ding

    - led troops into battle

    - ruled her own town

    - one of first rulers to be documented in China’s history

    Early Writing System

    - signs looked like pictures of objects

    - characters became simpler throughout time

    - symbols stood for objects or ideas

    - many were written on bamboo and silk

    - these did not survive

    - Ancients also wrote on bronze pots and stones

    - these provide clues to life in Ancient China

    “Dragon bones” were another substance used to write on

    - These bones were actually that of cattle and sheep

    - “Oracle Bones”- used by special priests to predict future

    - Bones were inscribed with a question then heated over a fire

    until they cracked. The pattern of cracks was used to answer

    the question and predict the future.

    Religion of the Shang

    - believed ancestors lived in another world

    - these ancestors controlled human life in real world

    - oracle predictions helped restore faith in king

    - if predictions came true, king was being helped by ancestors

    - also, true predictions meant that king was good selection

    - people of Shang dynasty worshiped many gods

    - believed these gods controlled nature - believed in after-life

    ZHOU Dynasty

    - took over China around 1100 BC

    - lasted longer than any other dynasty (600 years)

    - Mandate of Heaven heaven gave power to the king and no one

    ruled without heaven’s permission

    - Zhou was located west of the Shang territory

    - Eventually ruled all area between Yellow and Yangzi River

    - Established a new political order similar to Feudalism

    o Granted land in return for loyalty, military support, and other


    o Land was granted to lords

    o Lords paid taxes and provided soldiers to the king

    o Peasants received small plots of land and had to farm additional

    land for the nobles

    - This new system brought order to China

    - Eventually this system broke down because of lack of loyalty to

    the king

    Emperor’s Army: - Shang Dynasty ended around 1100 BC

    - Zhou Dynasty ended around 500 BC

    - Huang River Valley fell apart for many years

    - Entered a period called the Warring States period around 481 BC

    - Around 221 BC, a region called Qin (Ch’in) ruled the Valley

    - Qin gained control of the Valley

    - A great general led his armies in these battles

    - When fighting was complete, the general named himself emperor


    - Real name Prince Sheng “Tiger of Qin” - declared himself emperor after battles

    - emperor- a supreme ruler of an empire

    - name means: “First Grand Emperor” - boasted that Qin (Ch’in) Dynasty would last 10,000 generations - Dynasty actually only lasted 15 years!

    Rise of Empire

    - geography led to their conquest of Huang River Valley

    - Qin region was protected by Qinling Mountains and Huang River

    - Soldiers were protected and fought many battles


    - Shi-huang-di divided empire into 36 provinces or districts

    - province- a political division of land

    - let farmers own land

    - weakened power of nobles

    - forced nobles to move to capital city, Xianyang - took bronze weapons from nobles

    - set up a single system of writing throughout China called


    - helped to record and collect taxes

    - set up a single system of money throughout China called Renminbi,

    today it is the Yuan

    - coins were made of bronze by craftsman

    - holes were put in coins to allow for easy storage

    - changes enforced by emperor’s soldiers

    Farmers build Empire

    - China grew bigger and stronger WHY?

    - empire became increasingly rich from taxes

    - as time passed, emperor became more demanding of people

    - farmers built roads to link cities

    - also, built walls along countries northern border

    - walls later made up part of Great Wall of China - Great Wall grew to more than 1500 miles long, not the wall we

    think of today

    - after emperor’s death, farmers revolted against kingdom

    - revolutions created by Shi-huang-di lasted for centuries

    Emperor’s Tomb

    - Shi-huang-di wanted to model “real world”

    - Clay army: about 7000 found in pit 1, may be 400,000 in 6 other


    - Took almost 40 years to build, and approximately 700,000 workers

    - Tomb not yet uncovered

    - Ancient writer described tomb:

    - Huge map of empire

    - Stars on ceiling

    - Mercury flowing as a river

    - Crossbows guarded the entrance to the tomb

    Confucius Changes China

    - Shi-huangdi’s Qin Dynasty was overthrown in 206 BC

    - Han Gaozu, a farmer-turned-general, led these armies

    - began the Han Dynasty

    - ruled China for 400 years!

    - expanded into North and South Korea and Vietnam

    - Han believed a ruler should be able to do whatever he wanted

    - developed ideas about how to rule based on Confucius


    - suggested a more peaceful way of living

    - this won many followers

    - unlike Buddha, his ideas did not start a new religion

    - did reshape the entire civilization

    - both parents died when he was young

    - mastered subjects such as writing, mathematics, history, and


    - devoted his life to teaching


    - taught that Chinese culture had lost all traditions

    - ancient traditions made society just and good

    - education could learn people to become good and just again

    - good people = good civilization

    - central idea: to have respect within the family

    - applied to government: subject must respect ruler

- ruler has duty to be wise and good

    - Mandate of Heaven: each emperor received the right to rule from

    the gods

    - The Analects: book written by Confucius’s students recording ideas

    Rise of Han Dynasty

    - Han Dynasty expanded China’s borders - Emperor Shihuangdi had non-believers executed

    - he did not want anyone to question his authority

    - Confucianism became accepted in Han Dynasty - used the Qin Dynasty’s system of government to keep nobles


    - gave governmental jobs to educated, rather than nobles

    - Emperor Wudi, first strong emperor of Han Dynasty - Ruled from 140 BC to 87 BC

    - created schools to prepare students for governmental services

    - schools were run by Confucian teachers

    The Grand School

    - schools were set up in each province

    - taught Chinese literature

    - students who performed well were sent to the Grand School

    - only 50 students studied at this school during Wudi’s rule - by 200 AD, more than 30,000 were enrolled there

    - 1 year: ancient China’s pottery, history, proper behavior, and folk


    - took test at end of year

    - if passed, worked for government or as a teacher in province


    - Chinese scientists and mathematicians learned to predict eclipses

    of the sun

    - Doctors discovered new medicines

    - Poets wrote about the land

    - Language grew from 3000 to 9000 characters during Han Dynasty

    - 100 AD 1

    st Chinese dictionary was printed

    Invention of Paper

    - Confucianism brought increased knowledge and discover

    - Han craftsman invented paper

    - Produced by pounding bark of mulberry trees

    - Paper provided a means for keeping a written record of events

    - Mulberry trees also used for Chinese silk


    - Han inventors created the seismograph

    - Seismograph- a machine used to detect earthquakes

    - Ancient seismograph included a vase with a pendulum in it

    - The pendulum would swing striking a rod, thus knocking a ball out

    of the dragon’s mouth indicating the direction of the earthquake

    - Food and supplies could be sent to the region affected by the quake

    Everyday Life

    - empire stretched thousands of miles

    - farming was central to society

    - most lived on farms and in small villages

    - farmer’s produced for entire empire

    - lives centered around families (Confucianism)

    - still belief in today’s society

    End of Dynasty

    - Han Dynasty ended around 220 AD

    - Ended because of failed expansion trials and fighting among

    countries leaders

    - Confucius’s ideas exist to this day in China

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