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NEOLITHIC PERIOD (ca 8000-2000 B.C., 6000 years)
XIA (ca 2205-1766 B.C., 440 years)
Although archaeological evidence is not as compelling as that of Shang Dynasty, findings from recent excavations support the view that Xia is China's first dynasty. Activities centered around the juncture of present-day Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. People formed agricultural society, possessed water management skills, and created a primitive lunar calendar. Bronze was used to make vessels for rituals and weapons. Territorial boundaries of China began to take shape.
SHANG (1766-1122 B.C., 645 years )
Also known as Yin. Much of the information available on Shang society comes from inscriptions made on the shoulder-blades of oxen and shells of turtles, known as the "oracle bones". Over 150,000 fragments of oracle bones have now been identified. Together with the Zhou Dynasty that followed, referred to as the Bronze Age of China.ZHOU (1122-221 B.C., 902 years)
Developed iron tools, society, money and written laws. Together with the preceding Shang Dynasty, referred to as the Bronze Age of China.
QIN (221-206 B.C., 16 years)
King Zheng was born in 259 and died in 210 B.C. at age 50. After having annexed six other independent kingdoms of the Warring States Period, in 221 B.C. he founded the first unified feudal empire in Chinese history and began the Qin Dynasty. He proclaimed himself "Shihuang Di", meaning, "the First Emperor". Though the dynasty lasted only 15 years, many of the institutions of later Chinese imperial governments first took shape in this period.HAN (206 B.C.-220 A.D., 426 years )
Art, literature, philosophy, music and statecraft flourished in the golden age of Han. Paper first mentioned in 105 A.D. Confucius' teachings were made the dominant creed and cornerstone of Chinese thought. Buddhism from India was introduced to China. (The Roman Empire was found during the Han dynasty, which ended before the Tang Dynasty.)
PERIOD OF DISUNITY (220-589, 370 years)
For 370 years following Han's collapse, a number of kingdoms and dynasties emerged and fought each other for domination. The regimes emerged in this period include: the Three Kingdoms of Wei, Shu and Wu (220-280), the Jin Dynasty (265-420), and the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589). Prolonged fighting caused much suffering among the people. Against this background, popularity of Buddhism and Taoism grew substantially.SUI (581-618, 38 years)
Reunification, major civil service reforms, victory in taming the Turks of Central Asia, fortified the Great Wall, rebuilt the capital city of Luoyang, completed Grand Canal, the longest man-made river in the world.
TANG (618-907, 290 years)
The second emperor, Li Shimin, an exceptionally talented statesman and military strategist, started his reins in 627 and made Tang probably the most glorious dynasty in Chinese history. Empire greatly expanded; period of excellence in sculpture, painting and poetry; oldest extant printed book published in 868; influence by Central Asia in dance and music. Japan copied much of Tang culture and institutions, and adopted Chinese characters as her form of written language. The capital city of Chang'an was a cosmopolitan city of wealth and splendor unparallel in the world.
FIVE DYNASTIES AND TEN KINGDOMS (907-960, 54 years)
SONG (960-1279, 320 years)
YUAN (1271-1368, 98 years)
MING (1368-1644, 277 years)
QING (1644-1911, 267 years)
REPUBLIC OF CHINA (1911- )
PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (1949- )