China Dynasties Cornell Notes 2013


China Dynasties

Cornell Notes

Xia Dynasty

• A dynasty is a line of rulers who belong to the same family and pass control from one generation to the next.

Legend says that the “ Great

Engineer ” Yu founded the first dynasty, the Xia (shee-uh) Dynasty.

Shang/Chou Dynasties

Shang Dynasty

Chou (Zhou) Dynasty

1700 –c. 250 BCE

• Two families ruled China for the next 1500 years: first the Shang family ruled, and then the Chou family ruled.

• Important contributions of the Shang Dynasty : the use of bronze, a system of writing, ancestor worship, and the invention of chopsticks.

• Important contributions of the Chou Dynasty : the introductions of Confucianism and Taoism.

Qin Dynasty

Qin (Ch ’ in) Dynasty

Emperor: First Emperor Qin

221–206 BCE

• Although he ruled for only 15 years, First Emperor Qin accomplished great things. He ruled with absolute control and by extreme punishment.

Important contributions of the

Qin Dynasty

• First dynasty to rule/create “ China ”

• First Emperor of China-Shi Huangdi

– United China together

• Strong central government

– Start of bureaucracy

• Military expansion

– Starts the construction of the Great Wall

The Great Wall

• The Great Wall is truly big. Different parts of the wall are from 15 to 50 feet high. The base has a width of between 15 and 30 feet.

Han Dynasty

About 200 BCE to 200 CE

• Life was good for many of the people because of the demand for

Chinese silk and the creation of the the Silk Road, a major system of trade routes.

Important contributions of the

Han Dynasty

Confucian style government

• Rise of Scholar Class

• Introduce Civil Service Examination

• Invent paper and porcelain

T ’ ang Dynasty

T ’ ang Dynasty c. 600 –900 CE

The Golden Age of China

• By 600 CE, in early medieval times, China had become the wonder of the world. It was a time of prosperity, and experimentation

Important contributions of the

Tang Dynasty

• Period of peace and stability

• Expansion of Silk Road to increase trade

• Buddhism

• Many new inventions

Song Dynasty


• Period of peace and stability

• Buddhism + Confucianism = Neo-Confucianism

• Tons of new inventions

Yuan Dynasty


• China falls to the Mongolians/Khans

– Genghis Khan

• Government was extremely cruel to the


• Lots of trade with foreigners and the West

– Marco Polo – 1 st European account of China

Ming Dynasty


• Expansionist and Isolationist

• Fear of foreign influence


The ancient Chinese invented many things we use today. They invented paper, silk, matches, the wheelbarrow, gunpowder, the decimal system, the waterwheel, porcelain, lacquer, the pottery wheel, fireworks, paper money, the compass, the seismograph, tangrams, medicines, dominoes, jump rope, kites, the tea ceremony, the folding umbrella, ink, the animal harness, playing cards, printing, the abacus, wallpaper, and the crossbow.


The ancient Chinese were very clever people. Their culture was complex and made many lasting contributions to the world.

Although outsiders call this land

China, after the Ch ’ in (Qin) empire, the Chinese today call themselves the people of Han.