Qin Dynasty (221 - 202 BCE)

by Vincent and Joshua

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The Qin expanded their state before taking over China. Their state became powerful during the decline of the Zhou dynasty, and they took out the last Zhou ruler (King Nan of Zhou). After taking out King Nan of Zhou, the Qin spread their rule over more and more of China. In 246 BCE, a nine-year-old boy named Ying Zheng, who was later the emperor Qin Shihuangdi, became the leader of the state Qin. Shihuangdi unified states by dividing the empire into 36 provinces (territories) , dividing each provinces into districts, and then assigning a governor and a defender for each province. Shihuangdi also made people use the same writing, language, money, and measuring system. Unfortunately, Shihuangdi became obsessed with immortality, and died by poisoning in 210 BCE when he drank an “immortality potion”. After he died, he passed his dynasty to his son, Emperor Er Shi, who was killed in 207 BCE. After the death of Emperor Er Shi, the Qin dynasty collapsed entirely, and chaos reigned until 202 BCE. During the Qin dynasty, only two rulers held power, and they were Shihuangdi and Emperor Er Shi.

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This is a painting of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi. He was the first emperor in the Qin Dynasty, and he plays a really big role in unifying China.


During the Qin Dynasty, the ruler took power from the nobles and gave some more power to the peasants, so everyone could get a good job and was treated correctly. The Qin Dynasty built many big projects such as the Great Wall of China; therefore many more people had an occupation that involved building. Emperor Qin also wanted to make sure he wasn't murdered, so he gave every state two government officials to watch them, therefore there were many more jobs in the government. The time where the Qin dynasty was ruling, China only traded with others in China. Qin Shihuangdi, the ruler of China during the Qin Dynasty, also unified China and made a coin that all of China used which helped trading in China. Calligraphy pens and paper were important during this time because they were invented during the Qin Dynasty.
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This is a photo of a coin used in the Qin dynasty.

Inventions / Technology / Science & Architecture

Because of the Qin Dynasty’s short lasting time, there weren't lots of inventions or scientific discoveries during the period of the Qin Dynasty. However, there were still some major inventions and achievements during that time. Examples of some inventions during the Qin Dynasty are the magnetic compass, crossbows, standardized writing, language, money, and system of measurement, and multiplication tables. There were also important buildings and structures that were built in the Qin Dynasty. One example is the Great Wall of China. The Great Wall of China was built to protect the country from invasions from the north. An example of an important structure built in the Qin Dynasty would be the terracotta army. In 1974, Chinese farmers dug up some parts of the terracotta army. This led to the discovery of seven thousand terracotta warriors that have buried with Qin Shihuangdi to protect him in the afterlife. Although the Qin Dynasty only lasted for around 17 years, but the Qins’ sowed the seeds of unification and building of the Great Wall of China led to later periods of prosperity and stability during the great dynasties that followed.

Religion, Culture, and Social Life

While Emperor Qin was ruler he changed the religion in China a lot. First of all he ended the religion feudalism and Confucianism. Instead he only allowed legalism. He also burned books that didn't have to do with legalism, only keeping books about medicine, farming, and prophecy. Unfortunately, culture didn't cherish and decreased a lot during the Qin dynasty. They did invent the style of writing: calligraphy, and built the terracotta warriors. The people that lived during the Qin dynasty had a very difficult life because although most of Emperor Qin's projects benefited China, they also involved a lot of people and leading to a lot of forced labor. During the rule of Emperor Qin. There was also no afterlife in the Chinese religion.
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This is an example of original Chinese calligraphy invented during the Qin Dynasty.