This essay will provide the description of the history of the Ancient China. Much attention will be paid to rulers and their methods of ruling. Moreover, distinguishing characteristics of each historical period will be thoroughly analyzed. Development of the manufacture, welfare and weapons will be considered in connection with the social and political life of people who lived in different time periods.
The Relevance of Studying the Ancient China
The current essay will describe the history of the Ancient China from its foundation. This topic was chosen because China is my native country. Studying of its ancient history will provide better understanding of the state’s culture and behavior of its citizens. People should know the history of their country for passing it to future generations because the ancient events created a background of the formation of the current Chinese society.
The History of the Ancient China
Archeologists found the first signs of the Chinese civilization in the Yangzi Valley. They discovered numerous household items, like ceramic vases. Ancient Chinese people lived there in about 4000 BC. The Daxi culture transformed to the Liangzhu culture that existed from 3300 BC to 2230 BC. The main characteristic of this culture is that people started to use domestic stock, grow rice and use different ritual elements (for example, ritual masks). Furthermore, they “wove silk, made lacquerware, fired spending ceramic vessels, created baskets and, above all, fashioned outstanding jades”. People lived nearby rivers and water reservoirs. The representatives of the Hongshan Culture who lived in the same time period are notable for their rich burials that “indicate the early development of social ranks”.
The next culture that existed on the territory of the Ancient China is the Longshan Culture. It spreaded from the Shandon Province. Its main characteristics are the following: growing social complexity reflected in the existence of elite and roturier graves; development of jewelry; use of bronze. Moreover, people started to build high defense walls for protection from the armed conflicts. Increasing density of population led to the improvement of the quality of constructions and growing social disparity.
The Lower Xiajiadian Culture existed in the same time as the Longshan Culture. Its representatives lived on the territory of “Inner Mongolia and Liaoning and Hebei provinces”. People surrounded their settlements by several circles of defense walls. The Lower Xiajiadian Culture is characterized by starting of using the stone on military and civil constructions. Additionally, archeologists have found evidence of existing religious and social distinctions reflected in burial decorations and jewelry during burial excavations at Dadianzi. The proof of growing amount and variety of livestock is supported by numerous bones of dogs, sheep, goats, and pigs discovered nearby the people’s houses.
The Xia Dynasty existed from 1700 BC to 1500 BC. Archeologists have found out that people who lived within this time period actively used “the piece-mold technique in which the vessel was in cat in sections, which were then joined with mortises and tenons”. The employment of bronze for manufacturing of weapons and jewelry became more common.
The Shang Dynasty was around from 1500 BC to 1045 BC. This time span is characterized by the development of architecture, production of burial attributes, ship construction and hunting. People made gifts to gods in a form of human and animal sacrifices for obtaining certain goals (for example, winning a battle). It is notable that members of the royal house of the Shang Dynasty were buried together with their servants. Some form of currency unit represented by a cowrie shell appeared during this time period. One more culture that existed on the territory of the Yangzi Valley was the Changkiang Culture. Archeologists have found more than 800 cemetery graves, numerous sacrificial pits, and special decorated ceramic vases for burial ceremonies.
The Shang Dynasty was replaced by the Western Zhou Dynasty that existed from 1045 to 771 BC. Thirteen different emperors ruled during this time period. This dynasty is considered to be the most long-lived one on the territory of modern China. Emperors demonstrated considerable improvement of weaponry (for example, using of cast bronze swords) and developed new methods of warfare. Peripheral states of the country were governed by the representatives of the ruling dynasty.
Ritual procedures became more complicated during this time period. Special high quality bronze vessels decorated by animal ornaments were used for rites. They were widely used for burial ceremonies, during banquets, and even placed in underground hoards. Tombs were decorated by remarkable images. Archeologists have found several “deep tomb chambers associated with pits containing horses and chariots”. Quick growth of theolatry to gods is also one of the distinguishing features of this dynasty
Moreover, the Shang Dynasty had its unique technique of bronze manufacturing of decorations, vessels and weapons. Special furnaces were used for heating and melting of bronze. Casting technique enabled decoration of bronze goods prior to firing. Furthermore, rulers of the Shang Dynasty paid much attention to the improvement of culture in all spheres of social life. Music, literature and history were prosperous. The increase of trade with neighboring states facilitated cultural sharing and development.
Unfortunately, the emperors of the Shang Dynasty were unable to perform strict control over the regional lords. For this reason, five big hegemonies appeared instead of one centralized government. The main court relied on their power. The state ruler and his power should have be accepted and approved by the local authorities.
Later came the period of ruling of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (from 770 to 221 BC). Different archeological researchers found numerous texts that describe battles and wars between state authorities of this time that contain regional and state laws and regulations. They were written on silk and on sets of bamboo. Much attention should be paid to texts written on the weapon found in Han city sicne “a hoard of bronze weaponry contained items inscribed and dated with the name of the person in charge”. This founding reflects the importance of weapon manufacturing during the period of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Moreover, the constant battles and wars facilitated the improvement of military methods and ways of weapon manufacturing. Metallurgical development of lead stipulated the application of high temperatures and using the method of “casting of molten iron into molds”. The competition of local rulers led to the development of architecture, art, decoration techniques and overall industrial growth. Close interaction between different territories facilitated trade, appearance of different manufacturing professions (for example, bronze and iron blacksmiths) and increase of the mercantile class. This time period is also characterized by high economic and political development of local states. Hierarchy and political order became stricter in different social and political structures. The period is characterized by the raise of totalitarianism.
The Eastern Zhou Dynasty was conquered by Qin Shi Hangdi, the ruler of the Qin Dynasty. Later, he became the first Chinese Emperor. This dynasty ruled from 221 BC to 207 BC. Qin Shi Hangdi implemented numerous social and political reforms. For instance, he divided the Ancient China into thirty six different provinces and numerous counties. Moreover, special political hierarchy was created. The ruler appointed a person who performed functions of the governor and commander of the local army. Only Qin Shi Hangd had the right to give orders to this man. The ruler also paid much attention to construction of roads, facilitation of trade with neighboring counties, improvement of agriculture. More than 100,000 people were engaged into construction of the Great Wall that was built for protection of the Ancient Asia from conquerors.
The Qin Dynasty was replaced by the Han Dynasty in 206 BC. This dynasty existed till 220 AD. It established a commandery system of ruling of local states. Different schools and central training institutions performed education of administrators. Much attention was paid to the study of Confucianism. The Han Dynasty is characterized by a strongly pronounced political hierarchy. The governance of the country was performed by three different personalities that were “the Chancellor, the Imperial Counselor and the Commander of the Armed Forces”.
The dynasty actively conquered the nearby territories, like the Jade Gate and Tarim Busin, the area of modern Yunnan. Additionally, the military forces were directed on the protection of the Great Wall from the Xiongnu. Constant battles facilitated the development of warship methods and weapon. It is notable that all young men starting from the age of 23 were obliged to participate in compulsory military service. Moreover, they could be called up for military service repeatedly till the age of 56.
Furthermore, the Han Dynasty established new court ceremonies and changed the view of the countryside. Some religious changes also took place: rulers included new gods into imperial religious rituals. Burial rites became more magnified and bright. Archeologists have found furniture, clothes, decorated graves, gold and bronze jewelry, pits with hundreds of dogs and sheep, etc.
The Han Dynasty was replaced by the Tang and the Sung Dynasties. They left highly decorated parts of buildings of common people and monasteries, ceramics and textiles. The country was economically and politically rooted to the north during the period of ruling of the Tung Dynasty. The Sung period is characterized by the increased development of maritime trade and the fleet.
Current essay describes historical development of culture and politics of the Ancient China from the foundation of the Chinese civilization. Formation of political order and political structure of different rulers are closely connected with the development of manufacturing and cultural life. This work shows shifts in power of different dynasties. All this information is rather relevant for understanding of the culture, politics and behavior of citizens of today’s China.