Ancient China By: Matthew Howard

* Neolithic Era: Neolithic cultures began developing in the North of China around 700 BCE. * The Jiahu civilization appeared, a people who were very dependent on intensive farming of things like rice and foxtail millet. * Cliff carvings have been found in China, showing an apparent fascination with gods, astrology, and their surroundings. * In 5500-4900 a civilization emerged which was very advanced, completed with construction of buildings, farming and agriculture, pottery, and burial of the dead. * Shang Dynasty: Anyang, confirmed to be the last standing of the Shang’s nine capitals was excavated and evidence of civilization was found.

* The oracle bones were confirmed to be China’s first written evidence of organized culture and were a way of predicting the future through communicating with the gods. * During this period religion was at the forefront of culture, with gods being responsible for everything. They had one god who reigned supreme over the other gods, Shangdi. * The Shang dynasty had 30 kings. And at this time China was little more than an isolationist nation consisting of small farming communities. * There was a definite social infrastructure, where the nobles and kings were literally at a higher level than the peasants.

* Slavery and Women : Slavery was a function of Chinese culture until the twentieth century, but shockingly, slaves made up approximately two percent of the population, consisting of criminals and captured opposing soldiers. * Women had a high standing in society and for the most part were equally valued * Over time males were given a greater bonus solely because of agricultural and economic capabilities, along with their importance in ancestor veneration. * Without a male heir, a gloomy afterlife existence was imminent, so eventually males took a greater value in society.

* Fall of the Shang and Remnants: The Shang people were conquered by the Zhou, a militarily inclined people from the Northwest. * The Shang impressed upon future civilizations ideology, script and artistic principles. * The Zhou period and Classical Age: The Western Zhou ruled for the first segment of the Classical Age * They kept much of the Shang culture, only making changes in usage of oracle bones and replacing Shangdi with Tian * The Zhou used a decentralized government using a system of government similar to the Feudal era.

* This system ended when an invading nomad people raided the capital, killing the king and forcing his successor to abandon the capital. * After fleeing the capital, there was no real central power in China with the Zhou ruling in name only. * There was civil war, resulting in seven tribes * Confucius: Translated from Kong Fuzi * Lived a very modest life, achieved fame posthumously * His teachings became the guide to Chinese social life * Taught to be eternal learner, only completed education at age of 70 * Three doctrines * 1) Filial Piety * 2) Rectification of names honour your duty * 3) Practice of courtesy

* The First Emperor of China: China’s first real dynasty began in 221 BCE, when the prince created a new title for himself -Shi Huangdi (meant “the First Emperor”) * Called dynasty the Quin, from which we get the name China * Transformed the country, and in ten short years created an enduring legacy * Working closely with his Prime Minister, Li Si, the Emperor first seized all land once held by feudal nobility, and then divided China into 42 prefectures.

* Shi Huangdi believed in the principle that war enriched the state, so sent out great armies, first against Aboriginal peoples south of the Yangtze River, and then against a nomadic tribe called the Huns * Expeditions greatly successful but also costly and the Emperor was determined to find a permanent solution to the problems of the northern border * Using hundreds of thousands of soldiers, merchants, conscripts, and both male and female prisoners, he began the most ambitious building project of the ancient world- The Great Wall of China.

* The End of the Golden Age of Chinese Thought: Chinese historians criticize for ruthlessness, massive conscription of labor, war, harsh laws, and above all, for what they consider his worst crime – the burning of books * Li Si complained that people were using words of wise ancient philosophers to criticize the Emperor.

* 231 BCE Emperor decreed that only practical works on the subjects such as agriculture, medicine, pharmacy and divination were worth preserving- all other books were burned in public * When some scholars were slow to act Emperor made example of them: 460 protestors were buried alive in palace courtyard * Barbaric act ended the Golden Age of Chinese thought * Wudi made Confucianism the state religion.

* 124 BCE founded China’s first university (with a curriculum based on Confucian philosophy) * Officials were selected for public office by the world’s first system of competitive examination * Well organized bureaucracy consisted of nine ministers who managed everything from tax collection to defense * The Court: Emperor presided over both inner and outer court * Inner court consisted of four elements:

1. his wife, the Empress * 2. Harem * 3. The consort clans * 4. Eunuchs * Decline of Han: Before the end of Wudi’s reign, his energetic policies put the government in a deficit position * Taxes were raised and one official complained that farmers did not have sufficient land use a single hoe; forced to live on the food of “dogs and pigs” * Peasants suffered and gap between rich and poor widened * Great landlord families arose with immense power.

* 184 BCE great rebellions broke out in northeast and southwest * Han dynasty came crashing down squeezed between the two forces and betrayal by disloyal generals * The last Han emperor abdicated in 220 BCE * Period of Disunion: China divided into 3 kingdoms, the briefly reunited before hoards of nomads swept in from north and west * 317 CE nomads had taken control of whole country of north of Yangtze River – these tribes (ancestors of the Mongols) the Manchus and the Tibetans held northern.

China for almost 300 years * In the south, a succession of weak, short-lived Chinese dynasty struggle to keep alive the culture of the Han * Some scholars regard this period as the Dark Ages of China * The authority of the central government declined as great aristocratic clans set up independent domains * Buddhism: Introduced to China in first century CE from India * Because people in China believed life to be painful the appeal of Buddhism was great * Pious Chinese made pilgrimages to India to study and returned to translate scripture * Merchants asked monks to guard their valuables, these monasteries became the first banks.

* Magnificent art created * The Second Empire: 589- Sui Wendi conquers the Southern dynasties, beginning the Sui dynasty, and reuniting the country * Very successful reign rebuilt roads, canals, walls, and dikes * Instilled a national identity in China and ended government corruption while lowering taxes and expenditures. * Son was an indulgent tyrant who ruined the fortune of the Chinese.

* Rebellion broke out and he was killed, establishing the Tang dynasty. * The Golden Age of China: The Tang dynasty was the greatest period of cosmopolitan growth in China. * Under the Tang, China expanded massively and Chang’an became the greatest city in the world, with a population of 1 million. * Cultural epicentre of the world with people from all of Asia seeking education, trade, or leisure. * It was a city of great beauty and extravagance * Women experienced great social rights and were able to compete in many contests of intelligence and sport. * The second Tang emperor was Taizong great emperor * Taizong set up schools and universities, a new law code, and a historical office.

* Redistributed land to the peasantry, made a national defense, and began taxation * Legalism: A philosophy concerned only with the power of the state and the elevation of its ruler * Three guiding values: * 1. Anything done to strengthen the state was by definition good * 2. The ruler must use devious methods to keep officials and other potential rivals from gaining power * 3. The common people must be subjected to detailed, regular laws that embody harsh punishments and lavish rewards * Third Empire: Song dynasty founded in 960 and reunited the country after the fall of the Tang dynasty, this dynasty is often compared to the Renaissance in Europe as their classical heritage was rediscovered and reinterpreted.

* Neo- Confucianism: Created by scholars during this time, and it included the works of Confucius, the concepts of Daoism and Buddhism. * Emphasized that “all under heaven” made up a family, and in that family the Emperor was the ideal father. * Economy: Shipbuilding, ceramics and the production of coal and iron had major progressions during the Song dynasty.

* The Chinese were the first to blast furnaces to smelt and carbonize iron in order to produce steel. They also discovered (possibly by accident) the power of gunpowder and used it for the mining of coal and iron, as well as for weapons. * Certain cities, such as Kaifeng became manufacturing centers during this time. * Trading: Foreign trade was encouraged, and lots of money was made from it.

* They imported only luxury goods such as: spices, textiles and some medicines, while they exported goods like: copper, silk and porcelain, which only they knew had to make at this time. * Porcelains from this time have been found all over the world, showing that sea trade was very important during the twelfth century. * Khans: In 1271, far to the north, Khubilai Khan proclaimed that he was the rightful ruler of all China and sent his armies south to destroy the Song. * In 1279, Hangzhou fell and Khan created a new dynasty called the Yuan. The Mongols founded the Yuan dynasty, and they were a nomadic people whose internal quarrels and disunity kept them from becoming a threat to people around them for centuries.

* In 1206, a man named Temujin united all of the tribes and proclaimed himself Chingghis Khan, setting out to conquer the known world. * When Chingghis died in 1227, most of Northern China, Tibet, and Central Asia were in his hands. * When in 1279 they had finally conquered Southern China, they were in possession of the greatest land empire in human history. * At first, all of their land was divided up into four parts with the capital in Mongolia, but then in 1260 Khubilai Khan, Temujin’s ablest grandson realized that China was the richest part of his empire and moved the capital to Beijing. * Khans: The Mongol rule ended in 1368 after less than a century after a series of bloody rebellions.

* Secret societies had risen up to try overthrow their foreign overlords, and one of the leaders of a society, Emperor Taizu started a new dynasty called the Ming, which lasted until 1644. * Along with the Qing dynasty, which ended in 1911, it was part of China’s last empire. * Ming Dynasty: The 276 years of Ming rule are seen as a time of stability, peace and prosperity. * Their pace of change had become extremely slow, and during this time most things like the arts and Confucianism became perfected. * The Renaissance and overseas exploration happened in Europe during this dynasty, but the Chinese managed to stay relatively oblivious to these changes.