Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world. ---Napoloeon Bonaparte

China was one of the most successful of the ancient civilisations. The Chinese today can boast that their civilization has the longest recorded history. The Chinese dominated the eastern part of the Asian continent and developed their civilisation independently from people in Europe and the Middle East, such as the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. The Chinese rice-based farming system was highly successful and was located around two major rivers, the Yellow and the Yangtze. As their civilisation grew, the ancient Chinese came up with many new inventions such as paper, printing, gunpowder and the compass.


(1600–1046 BC) Dynasty in China that established the Mandate of Heaven.

Shang Accomplishments: Earliest glazed pottery, evidence of a potter's wheel, industrialized bronze casting used for rituals, wine, and food, as well as weapons and tools, advanced jade carving, determined the year was 365 1/4 days, made reports on diseases, first appearance of Chinese script, oracle bones, Steppe-like war chariots. Remains have been found of palace foundations, burials, and rammed earth fortifications.


(1046–256 BC) The Zhou Dynasty overthrew the Shang Dynasty. During the Zhou Dynasty, the use of iron was introduced to China. The first part of the Eastern Zhou period was the Spring and Autumn period. This period saw warfare between the small Chinese states, but also the blossoming of Chinese philosophy in the Hundred Schools of Thought.

Some of the most important philosophies to develop in the Eastern Zhou period were Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Legalism.The second part of the Eastern Zhou period was the Warring States period, which saw intense warfare between the seven surviving Chinese states. In 221BC, the Qin emerged victorious, defeating the other states.


(221-207 BC) The first centralized dynasty of China that used Legalism as its base of belief. During its reign over China, the Qin Dynasty achieved increased trade, improved agriculture, and military protection. This was due to the abolition of landowning lords, to whom peasants had formerly held allegiance. The central government now had direct control of the masses, giving it access to a much larger workforce. This allowed for the construction of ambitious projects, such as a wall on the northern border, now known as the Great Wall of China. Despite its military strength, the Qin Dynasty did not last long. Popular revolt broke out a few years later, and the weakened empire soon fell to a Chu lieutenant, who went on to found the Han Dynasty.


After the civil war that followed the death of Qin Shihuangdi in 210 B.C., China was reunited under the rule of the Han dynasty, which is divided into two major periods: the Western or Former Han (206 B.C.–9 A.D.) and the Eastern or Later Han (25–220 A.D.). This dynasty continued the centralization of the Qin Dynasty, but focused on Confucianism and education instead of Legalism. The Han Dynasty was an age of economic prosperity and saw a significant growth of the money economy.