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Ancient Chinese Dynasties


The Chinese civilization developed along the "Yellow River" valley in Neolithic age. It is one of the oldest and most complex cultures in human civilization. Ancient china was one of the earliest centers of human civilization.

The Ancient Chinese era constitutes a number of dynasties starting from the "Three sovereigns and five emperors" (C.2852 BC to 2205 BC) to the formation of warring states period (476 BCE to the unification of China by the Qin dynasty in 221 BCE). The three sovereigns were known as the "Three august ones". They were believed to be god kings

or demi-gods. They used magical power to improve the lives of the people. They introduced some important activities in Chinese culture such as fishing, herbal medicine, writing, agriculture and the drinking of tea. They also created men and women in some cases.

The five emperors consist of emperors starting from emperor Huang-di to emperor shun. The Period made notable contributions in Chinese culture like the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, art of weaving silk from silk worm, created the first Chinese characters, invented magical compass and earliest Chinese calendar, Unified form of calendar and astrology. The period marked a great contribution in Chinese civilization.

The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in the ancient historical record of china. The period has a poor historical record with no details of their civilization. The Xia dynasty is followed by the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BC) that ruled in the northeastern region. Its civilization was based on agriculture, hunting and animal husbandry. The dynasty had a complete developed system of writing on bronze inscriptions, oracle bones and small number on pottery, jade and other stones, horns etc. The period marked the advanced stage in bronze casting and pottery. Many musical instruments are also developed during this period. The Shang people were highly religious. They worshipped "Shang Ti" which means lord of the high. Worship of ancestors is an important part in their religion. They developed the rudiments of Hanfu that show a rich cultural tradition. The Dynasty also marked the development of architecture in Chinese civilization. The contribution of Shang dynasty in various fields made it an important dynasty in ancient china.

The Shang dynasty is followed by the Zou dynasty that ruled from 1122BC to 221BC. They are generally nomadic. They worshipped "Tian" that means heaven. They do not believe in human sacrifice. The worship of sun and god was very popular among the Zou clan. The period is marked with the contribution of popular philosophical thought of Confucius and Daoism. It gave birth to many philosophers, theorist and school of thought. It also made a notable contribution in the field of literature. The development of agricultural techniques increased the economy. The use of iron was also introduced in china during this period.

The spring and autumn dynasty (second half of the 8th century BC to the first half of the 5th century BC) followed by the Zou dynasty. The dynasty was named after a book "The spring and autumn annals". It was a period of great change in china and brought tremendous progress in cultural movement and development. The period marked the decline of patriarchal system and rise of the feudal system. The teachings of Confucius were the basis of their religious belief. The period also records the invention of the first primitive compass to guide their way. It is regarded as a golden age in the history of china.

The formation of the Warring states marked the formation of the last dynasty in ancient china. It covers a period from 476 BCE to the unification of china in 221 BCE. The period saw an increased use of ironwork in china. Different philosophical thought like Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism and Mohism developed during the era. A new class of educated elite, professional administrators emerged in the royal courts and contributed great philosophical thought. The ideology and culture of ancient china reached its zenith during this period.

The Chinese ancient civilization is made up by different dynasties. Each dynasty contributes to a great deal in making the Chinese culture and civilization a great heritage in the world.

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