The Qin Dynasty

221-202 BCE

by Michelle and Grace

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Emperor Shi, the first Qin emperor.


Before the Qin Dynasty, each state was fighting for control of China. A local king, Shi Qin Huangdi, used his strong army and advanced weapons to take control. He established the Qin Dynasty. He ruled under the practice of Legalism, which meant strict control and an absolute monarchy. He unified China by making everyone use the same alphabet, length measurements, and weight measurements. He also chose his own, trusted assistants to govern parts of his empire and become judges. This prevented rebellions because they were all loyal to Qin. In addition, he got together a huge army to prevent conquered kings from rebelling against him. His army expanded and defended borders of China, which reached from Mongolia in the north to Siberia in the south. Qin also built the Great Wall of China to keep out Mongolian and Siberian invaders. He forced poor peasants to work on constructing it. However, while building the Great Wall of China and other public projects, many workers died. Fields were not planted or harvested, making starvation common during the dynasty. When Shi died, he passed power on to his son, Ershi. He was not as powerful as Shi was. The poor peasants who had suffered under Shi rebelled, as well as local rulers who wanted more power. Ershi was not able to stop them. This ended the Qin Dynasty.

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This is a coin from the Qin dynasty



Under the Qin Dynasty, the economy prospered. The Qin traded with many various countries nearby. For example, they traded with Korea, Japan, and various parts of African and European countries. They traded silk, tea, porcelain, paper, printing, gunpowder, compasses, plants, minerals, medicine, lacquer, various types of amusement (ex. kites, playing cards), and more. For their currency, the Qin dynasty used round coins with square holes in the center such as the one above. Architecture, harvesting silk, and farming were some very common occupations at that time. Working on the Great Wall of China could be considered a punishment (working there was very harsh and most people did not make it back). However, it could also be considered a job. Food and silk were very important products at that time. Silk was for trade. At one point, food was scarce since the Emperor forced many people to work on the Great Wall of China and there were not as many people farming.
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The Great Wall of China. It was built by the Emperor Shi.

Inventions/ Technology/ Science and Architecture

During the Qin Dynasty, the emperors ruled under Legalism, which they invented. Other inventions were standard writing, language, money, system of measurement, and the multiplication table. Under the Qin rulers, architecture expanded as well. In order to show their power, the Qin emperors ordered many roads and irrigation canals to be built all over the empire. The first emperor, Shi, built the great Wall of China to protect China from invasions. Qin emperors constructed a huge palace called the Epang Palace for themselves. They also built a large tomb named the Lishan Mausoleum. For his own tomb, emperor Shi built the Terracotta Army to guard him in the afterlife.
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This is a Chinese dragon; they were considered good luck.

Religion/Culture/Social Life

Life for peasants and farmers is hardworking. Farmers plow the land, pick fresh crops, clean crops, and sell them. Peasants do as much as they can, money-wise. Merchants and nobles had an easy, laid-back day. Women at that time had no rights. they stayed at home, cared for children and did household chores. The Qin dynasty encouraged legalism, absolute monarchy. Emperor Qin did not encourage any literature, music, and art, so all "miscellaneous" books were burned. Books that were not about agriculture or medicine were considered "miscellaneous". In China, there was an annual spring festival (Chinese new year). Dragons were considered good luck.