Skip to main content

Ancient China: Home

Learn about the world's oldest continuous civilisation and how it has influenced our world today.

Key Terms

Dynasty - When the rule of a country is passed down to family members over a long period of time.

Forbidden City - A giant palace built in the center of Beijing city by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. 

Great Wall - A 5500 mile long wall built along the northern border of China. It was built to keep out the Mongol invaders. 

Minister - A government official of high rank in the civil service. 

Pagoda - A religious temple that is built as a tower with many tiers and roofs.

Nelson, Ken. (2016). Kids History: Glossary and Terms of Ancient China. Ducksters.

Books

Search our Library

Introduction

Ancient China was one of the oldest and longest lasting civilisations in the history of the world. The history of Ancient China can be traced back over 4,000 years. Located on the eastern part of the continent of Asia, today China is the largest country in the world. 

Dynasties 
Throughout most of China's history it was ruled by powerful families called dynasties. The first dynasty was the Shang and the last was the Qing. 

Empire 
Ancient China also boasts the longest lasting empire in history. It began with the Qin dynasty and the first emperor Qin who united all of China under one rule in 221 BC. Emperors would continue to rule over China for more than 2000 years. 

Government 
In early times the lands were ruled by the feudal system where lords owned the lands and peasant farmers worked the lands for them. In later years, the empire was run by civil service officials who ran the cities, collected taxes, and enforced the laws. Men had to pass exams to become officials. 

Art, Culture, and Religion 
Art, culture, and religion were often tied together. There were three main religions or philosophies including Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. These ideas, called "the three ways" had a large impact on the way people lived as well as their art. Art focused on "the three perfections"; painting, poetry, and calligraphy. 

Mongols 
The great enemy of the Chinese was the Mongols who lived to the north. They even built a wall thousands of miles long to try and keep the Mongols from invading. The Mongols did conquer China for a time, however, and established their own dynasty called the Yuan Dynasty. 

Nelson, Ken. (2016). History: Ancient China for Kids. Ducksters. 

Ancient China: Lost treasures of the ancient world

Rating: PG Duration: 49:19


Description: 
History Channel 06/03/2014. A look at China's long and fascinating history, including the construction of the Great Wall, the terracotta army built by the First Emperor, and the Forbidden City in Beijing. Also includes a re-created Chinese village from 7000 years ago, plus expert commentary, computer graphics, and footage shot on location in China.

Timeline

8000 - 2205 BC: Early Chinese settlers build small villages and farm along the major rivers including the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. 

2205 - 1575 BC: The Chinese learn how to make bronze. The Xia Dynasty becomes the first dynasty in China. 

1570 - 1045 BC: Shang Dynasty 

1045 - 256 BC: Zhou Dynasty 

771 BC: End of the Western Zhou and beginning of the Eastern Zhou

551 BC: Philosopher and thinker Confucius is born.  

500 BC: Cast iron is invented in China around this time. The iron plough was likely invented shortly after.  

403 - 221 BC: The Warring States period. During this time leaders from different areas were constantly fighting for control. 

221 - 206 BC: Qin Dynasty 

221 BC: Qin Shi Huangdi becomes the first Emperor of China. He has the Great Wall of China built by extending and connecting existing walls to protect the people from the Mongols. 

220 BC: The writing system of China becomes standardized by the government. 

210 BC: The Terra Cotta Army is buried with Emperor Qin. 

206 BC - 220 AD: Han Dynasty 

207 BC: The first Han Emperor, Gaozu, establishes the Chinese Civil Service to help run the government. 

104 BC: Emperor Wu defines the Taichu calendar which will remain the Chinese calendar throughout history. 

8 - 22 AD: The Xin Dynasty overthrows the Han Dynasty for a short period of time. 

2 AD: A government census is taken. The size of the Chinese Empire is estimated at 60 million people. 

105 AD: Paper is invented by Imperial court official Cai Lun. 

222 - 581: Six Dynasties 

250: Buddhism is introduced to China. 

Nelson, Ken. (2016). Kids History: Timeline of Ancient China. Ducksters.