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China, a History

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Bee Cha
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« on: August 05, 2007, 06:41:57 am »



Timeline of Chinese Dynasties
Ancient China
 Neolithic ca. 12000 - 2000 B.C.
Xia ca. 2100-1800 B.C.
Shang 1700-1027 B.C. 
Western Zhou 1027-771 B.C.
Eastern Zhou 770-221 B.C. 770-476 B.C. -- Spring and Autumn period
475-221 B.C. -- Warring States period
 
Early Imperial China
   
Qin 221-207 B.C.
Western Han 206 B.C.- 9 A.D.
Hsing (Wang Mang interregnum) 9-25 A.D.
Eastern Han 25-220 A.D.
Three Kingdoms 220-265 A.D.
Western Chin 265-316 A.D.
Eastern Chin 317-420 A.D. 
Southern and Northern Dynasties 420-588 A.D.
 Southern Dynasties

420-478 -- Song

479-501 -- Qi

502-556 -- Liang
557-588 -- Chen
 
Northern Dynasties

386-533 -- Northern Wei

534-549 -- Eastern Wei

535-557 -- Western Wei
550-577 -- Northern Qi

557-588 -- Northern Zhou
Classical Imperial China
   
Sui 580-618 A.D.
T'ang 618-907 A.D.
Five Dynasties 907-960 A.D. 907-923 -- Later Liang
923-936 -- Later Tang

936-946 -- Later Jin
947-950 -- Later Han

951-960 -- Later Zhou
Ten Kingdoms A.D. 907-979
Song A.D. 960-1279 960-1125 -- Northern Song
1127-1279 -- Southern Song
 
Liao A.D. 916-1125
Western Xia A.D. 1038-1227
Jin A.D. 1115-1234
Later Imperial China
   
Yuan A.D. 1279-1368
Ming A.D. 1368-1644
Qing A.D. 1644-1911
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2007, 06:43:34 am »



Neolithic China
The Yangshao and the Lungshan

The Neolithic period began in China about 12,000 B.C. However, good evidence of Neolithic settlements exists from only about 4,000 B.C. The Neolithic lasted until about 2,000 B.C. It is defined by a spread of settled agricultural communities, but hunting and gathering was still practiced. The largest concentration of agriculture was below the southern bend of the Yellow River and millet was the main crop. The geography of Neolithic China was different from today. It was much wetter, with most of Northern China being lakes and marshes and central China covered in an enormous lake. The climate was warm and moist, rather than the colder, arid China of today. The mountains were well forested and there was a variety of animals.

Silk production, for which China is famous, had already been invented before this time period began. The process began in Northern China. It involved feeding the silkworms mulberry leaves, helping them molt and spin their cocoons, and finally, boiling the cocoons to produce the raw silk. Pottery was also present during this time period. The two main types, Painted Pottery and Black Pottery, belong to the two distinct cultural groups of the Neolithic, the Yangshao and the Lungshan. These two types of pottery were not for everyday use, rather, a plain course type of pottery was used that varied between the colors gray, black, red, and white. The dwellings of this time were in clusters that suggest kinship was important. Clothing was made of hemp and the main domesticated animals were pigs and dogs.

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Bee Cha
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2007, 06:45:12 am »

 
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2007, 06:45:57 am »

The Yangshao lived in the mountainous regions of northern and western China in round or rectangular houses that were below ground level and surrounded by little walls of earth. They created Painted Pottery that had geometric designs on it. The pottery was fired at 1000-1500C, but the potters wheel was not used. Axes and arrowheads were made of polished stone and other tools were made of stone chips. Millet was the main crop of the Yangshao. They domesticated two main animals, the dog and the pig, with the pig being the more important.

The Lungshan lived on the plains of eastern China. Their villages were similar to those of the Yangshao, but evidence of stamped earth fortresses is found in some sites. They created Black Pottery. This pottery was of exceptional quality. It had a polished exterior, was never painted, and is almost always without decoration. This pottery may have been a direct predecessor to later Chinese pottery, as the forms of the vessels are typical of Chinese pottery. Firing bones for the purpose of divination, which continued into the following dynasties, also began during this time. The Lungshan began to bury their dead facing downwards, which is how all bodies were buried during the Bronze Age. They used bones for arrowheads and small tools, but used polished stones for axes and sickles. Their domesticated animals were the pig, dog, sheep, and ox.

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/ancient_china/neolithic.html
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2007, 06:47:41 am »

From hunter-gatherers to farmers

What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago. Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated as 1.36 million years ago. The archaeological site of Xihoudu (西侯渡) in Shanxi Province is the earliest record of use of fire by Homo erectus, which is dated 1.27 million years ago. The excavations at Yuanmou and later Lantian show early habitation. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Homo erectus found in China is the so-called Peking Man found in 1923. Two pottery pieces were unearthed at Liyuzui Cave in Liuzhou, Guangxi Province dated 16,500 and 19,000 BC. Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is carbon-dated to about 7,000 BC, and associated with the Jiahu site (also the site of the earliest playable music instruments). This period also includes the earliest stage of the Chinese written language (still under debate) and the earliest wine production in the world. Jiahu contains the Peiligang culture of Xinzheng county, Henan, of which only 5% has been excavated as of 2006. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a cultural center, where the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of those was found at Banpo (半坡), Xi'an.
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2007, 06:49:08 am »



China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and countries linked to Chinese cultural and political history.
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2007, 06:50:08 am »

The early history of China is complicated by the lack of a written language during this period coupled with the existence of documents from later time periods attempting to describe events that occurred several centuries before. The problem in some sense stems from centuries of introspection on the part of the Chinese people which has blurred the distinction between fact and fiction in regards to this early history. By 7000 BC, the Chinese were farming millet, giving rise to the Jiahu culture. At Damaidi in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6,000-5,000 BCE have been discovered "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Later Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture around 2500 BC. Archaeological sites such as Sanxingdui and Erlitou show evidence of a Bronze Age civilization in China. The earliest bronze knife was found at Majiayao in Gansu and Qinhai province dated 3000 BC.
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2007, 06:52:00 am »



Tenka Han (zh).png
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Bee Cha
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2007, 06:53:47 am »

Three August Ones and Five Emperors

The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors (Chinese: 三皇五帝; Pinyin: Sānhung wd; Wade-Giles: San-huang wu-ti) were mythological rulers of China during the period from c. 2852 BCE to 2205 BCE, which is the time preceding the Xia Dynasty.
(Actually, the translation of 帝 d/dei5 is a problematic one in that it is most often translated using its modern sense, which did not arise until after the advent of an imperial state under 秦始皇 Qnshĭhung/Cen4hi2wong4. Its original meaning, and the most likely translation thereof, is that of supreme being, a kind of bermann, rather than 'emperor'. The character 帝 originally represented a shaman wearing a liturgical mantel.)

The Three Sovereigns

The Three Sovereigns, sometimes known as the Three August Ones, were said to be god-kings or demigods who used their magical powers to improve the lives of their people. Because of their lofty virtue they lived to a great age and ruled over a period of great peace.
The Three Sovereigns are ascribed various identities in different Chinese historical texts. The Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian states that they were:
   The Heavenly Sovereign (天皇) that ruled for 18,000 years;
   The Earthly Sovereign (地皇) that ruled for 11,000 years;
   The Human Sovereign (泰皇 or 人皇)that ruled for 45,600 years,
The Yundou shu (運斗樞) and Yuanming bao (元命苞) identify them as:
   Fuxi (伏羲)
   Nwa (女媧)
   Shennong (神農)

Both Fuxi, and also Nwa, are the god and goddess husband and wife credited with being the ancestors of humankind after a devastating flood. The invention of the Primal Arrangement of the Eight Trigrams (Xian Tian Ba Gua, 先天八卦) is attributed to Fuxi. Shennong invented farming and is the first to use herbs for medical purposes.
The I Ching, starts like this: In the old times of King Fuxis regime, he observed sky and the stars when he looks upwards, and researched the earth when he looks downwards, and watched the birds and beasts to see how they live in their environment. He took examples from nearby and far away, and then made 8 Yin Yang signs to simulate the rules of universe...After Fuxi died, Shennong rises. He made Plow and teach people how to raise crops and fishing. He invented money and market for the exchange of goods."

The Shangshu dazhuan (尚書大傳) and Baihu tongyi (白虎通義) replace Nwa with Suiren (燧人), the inventor of fire. The Diwang shiji (帝王世紀) replaces Nwa with the Yellow Emperor (黄帝), the supposed ancestor of all Han Chinese people.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2007, 07:01:04 am by Bee Cha » Report Spam   Logged
Bee Cha
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2007, 07:02:52 am »

The Five Emperors

The Five Emperors were legendary, morally perfect sage-kings. According to the Records of the Grand Historian they were:
   The Yellow Emperor (黄帝)
   Zhuanxu (顓頊)
   Emperor Ku (帝嚳)
   Emperor Yao (堯)
   Emperor Shun (舜)
Yao and Shun are also known as the Two Emperors, and, along with Yu the Great (禹), founder of the Xia dynasty, were considered to be model rulers and moral exemplars by Confucians in later Chinese history. The Shangshu Xu (尚書序) and Diwang shiji include Shaohao (少昊) instead of the Yellow Emperor.
The Song of Chu (楚辭) identifies the Five Emperors as directional gods:
   Shaohao (east)
   Zhuanxu (north)
   Yellow Emperor (center)
   Shennong (west)
   Fuxi (south)
The Book of Rites (禮記) equates the Five Emperors with the Five Lineages (五氏), which comprise:
   Youchao-shi (有巢氏)
   Suiren-shi (燧人氏)
   Fuxi (伏羲氏)
   Nwa (女媧氏)
   Shennong (神農氏)

In one sense of the word, the first historical Emperor of China was Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇), who coined a new term for "Emperor" (huangdi 皇帝) by combining the titles of "sovereign" (huang 皇) and "god-king" (di 帝).

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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2007, 07:03:47 am »



Xia Dynasty

For many years, the Xia Dynasty was thought to be a part of a myth that the Chinese tell as part of their history. The Xia Dynasty was in oral histories, but no archaeological evidence was found of it until 1959. Excavations at Erlitous, in the city of Yanshi, uncovered what was most likely a capital of the Xia Dynasty. The site showed that the people were direct ancestors of the Lungshan and were predecessors of the Shang. Radiocarbon dates from this site indicate that they existed from 2100 to 1800 B.C. Despite this new archaeological evidence of the Xia, they are not universally accepted as a true dynasty.

The Xia were agrarian people, with bronze weapons and pottery. The ruling families used elaborate and dramatic rituals to confirm their power to govern. The rulers often acted as shamans, communicating with spirits for help and guidance.

http://www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/ancient_china/xia.html
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2007, 06:43:17 am »



Bronze container Lozenge Carven Ding (菱纹鼎) found at Erlitou site, the Xia palace.
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2007, 06:45:21 am »

The Xia Dynasty (Chinese: 夏朝; Pinyin: xi cho; Wade-Giles: hsia-ch'ao), ca. 2070 BC1600 BC,[1] of China is the first dynasty to be described in the Records of the Grand Historian and unofficial Bamboo Annals, which record the names of seventeen kings over fourteen generations lasted 431 or 471 years. The dynasty was preceded by the legendary Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and followed by the Shang Dynasty.

According to the official history, the Xia Dynasty was founded when Shun abdicated the throne in favor of his minister Yu, whom Shun viewed as the perfect civil servant. Instead of passing power to the person deemed most capable of rulership, Yu passed power to his son, Qi, setting the precedence for dynastic rule. The Xia Dynasty thus began a period of family or clan control.

The Skeptical school of early Chinese history (yigupai) in the twenties, started by Gu Jiegang, was the first to seriously question within China the traditional story of its early history: the later the time, the longer the legendary period of earlier history... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end[2] Yun Kuen Lee's criticism of nationalist sentiment in developing an explanation of Three Dynasties chronology focuses on the dichotomy of evidence provided by archaeological versus historical research, in particular the claim that the archaeological Erlitou Culture is also the historical Xia Dynasty. How to fuse the archaeological dates with historical dates is a challenge to all chronological studies of early civilization.

According to traditional Chinese proponents of the Dynastic cycle, it was during this period that Chinese civilization developed a benign civilian government and harsh punishment for legal transgressions. From this the earliest forms of Chinese legal codes came into being.

Jie, the last ruler, was said to be a corrupt king. He was overthrown by Tang, the leader of Shang people from the east.

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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2007, 06:47:01 am »



Bronze cup found at Erlitou site in 1963.

Archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the possible existence of the Xia dynasty at locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. There exists a debate as to whether or not Erlitou culture was the site of the Xia dynasty. Radiocarbon dating places the site at ca. 2100 to 1800 BC, providing physical evidence of the existence of a state contemporaneous with and possibly equivalent to the Xia Dynasty as described in Chinese historical works. In 1959, a site located in the city of Yanshi was excavated containing large palaces that some archaeologists have attributed as capital of the Xia Dynasty. Though later historical works mention the Xia dynasty, no written records dated to the Xia period have been found to confirm the name of the dynasty and its sovereigns. At a minimum, the archaeological discoveries marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilisation of the Shang Dynasty.

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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2007, 06:49:11 am »

Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project

The Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project (Simplified Chinese: 夏商周断代工程; Pinyin: Xa Shāng Zhōu Dundi Gōngchng) was a multi-discipline project commissioned by the People's Republic of China in 1996 to determine with accuracy the location and time frame of the Xia Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty and the Zhou Dynasty. Some 200 experts took part in the project, the results of which were released in November 2000.

The project correlated radiocarbon dating, archaeological dating methods, historical textual analysis, astronomy, and used other interdisciplinary methods to achieve more accurate temporal and geographic accuracy.


There is some controversy over the results of the project. One of the criticisms is that the project supports the concept of a 5000-year, unbroken and homogenous history of China, wherein the Three Dynasties were large and powerful states--ignoring that many other groups of people existed throughout China and Central Asia during this period.

Technical controversies involve the following matters: Firstly, the archaeological boundaries between Xia and Shang and between Shang and Zhou have been strongly disputed, partly due to the methods adopted for carbon-dating. Secondly, it has also been argued that the astronomical/literature bases of the project are ill-founded. This was partly caused by persistent doubts in the reliability of the historical records used for the deduction, partly caused by dubious, inaccurate astronomical calculations, and partly caused by selective use of the presumed historical record (which, if used in its entirety, might have no solution at all). Thirdly, numerous unjustified changes have been introduced into the bronze vessel inscriptions, which affect the entire chronology. Finally, lack of understanding on the ancient calendar further complicated the matter.
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