The fall of the Han Dynasty in 220 AD was similar in many ways to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. They were not replaced by strong dynasty, many lasted only beief periods. The collapse of Han rule resulted in almost four centuries of warload rule. China split into three kingsdoms (Wei, Shu, and Wu), but the idea of cultural unity persisted. China never seems to have declined to the same low cultural level as the European Dark Ages. The Medieval Chinese dynasties are some of the least remembered dynasties. While the Han fell, the ideal of the Han and unified rule never perished. Chinese to this day still refer to themselves as the "sons of Han". The short lived Shu Dynasty (589-618 AD) finally unified China again. They were replaced by the T'ang Dynasty (618-907 AD) underwhom China regained much of its former power. The writ of the T'ang Emperors extend from the Caspian to the Pacific. Five feeble, short-lived dynasties repalaced the T'ang weakened by corruption and rebellion. They were replaced by the Sung Dynasty (960-1280-AD). The Sung are sometimes described as the Augustine Age of China. Writing and printing flourished and libraries appeared.
China is one of the oldest civilizations on earth. Civilization appeared in China about 3,000 BC in the Yellow River valley. The eraly emperors are legendary figures. The founder of Chinese social order was Fu Hsi. Organized agriculture appears about 2737 BC under Shen Nung. Many of the invention of Chinese cultural life occur under the Yellow Emperors (2704-2585 BC) which many scholars consider the golden age of China. They were followed by the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 BC) who are remembered for their cruelty. They were followed by the Chou Dynasty which is regarded as the classical period of Chinese history. Aguculture became universal and the arts flirished. The great sages including Confucius, Lao-tse, Mencius, abd Mo Ti appeared. The feudal system developed in China at this time. Despite the humanitarian doctrines of these sages, a devestaing series of feudal wars marched the last years of the Chou. They were replaced by te Ch'in Dynasty. The Ch'in restored order, abolished the feydal system, and drove Hun Tartars back into the Asiatic desert. They also began construction of the Great Wall. The Empire was exte nded south of the Yangtze valley. Shih Huang Ti is sometimes regaded as the "First Emperor". To symbolize a break with the past, Shih ordered the burning of all but practical books on medicine and agriculture--for which he is generally held in repriach by Chinese scholars. The first Han emperor seized power about 202 BC. The Han were the last emperors of Ancient China and ruled until 220 AD. The Mongul hordees were again driven back to Centtal Asia and Mongolia was added to thee Empire. Overland trade routes, chiefly in silks, were established with the West. Competitive examinations in the civil service were adopted. Chinese writing was standarized and printing invented. Buddhism was introduced from India, the first major foreign influence on China. We know little about historic Chinese clothing worn in the socienties of ancient China at this time, but we eventually hope to add such information to HBC. Almost as old as Chinese civilazation itself is the history odf silkm the oldest textile favric known to man. We note that the fine clothes worn by the elite often had magnificent embroidery with important imagery. One of the most important images was the dragon which came to symbolize the unity of the Chinese people.
The short lived Shu Dynasty (589-618 AD) finally unified China again.
The Shu were replaced by the T'ang Dynasty (618-907 AD) underwhom China regained much of its former power. The writ of the T'ang Emperors extend from the Caspian to the Pacific. The study of Medieval China is hampered as in Europe by the limited survival of written records. And many of the records that do survive deal more with philosophy than real history. In recent years climatologists have begun to provide useful data adding to our understanding of early periods. Several Asian countries, including both China and India are affected by monsoons which significantly influence rainfall. This of course affects rainfall and thus crop productivity. Scientists have studied titanium content in the sediments of Lake Huguang Maar. The strength of Monsoon rains can be inferred by the tinanium content because it relects the sediments brought into the lake by the rains. Weak rainfall may have impaired crop yields and thus fomented internat descent and eventually the fall of the T'ang. [Haug] (The same researchers believe that a similar dynamic may explain the demise of the Classic Maya on the other side of the Pacific.)
Five feeble, short-lived dynasties repalaced the T'ang weakened by corruption and rebellion.
The five feeble dynasties were replaced by the Sung Dynasty (960-1280-AD). The Sung are sometimes described as the Augustine Age of China. Writing and printing flourished and libraries appeared.
Genghis Khan, a Mongol leader from central Asia, overran northern China in the 12th century. The Mongols played an enormously important role in world history. Although a relatively small population, the Mongols established the most extensive empire in histoiry, streaching from Korea to Eastern Europe. Only the Japanese suceessfully defied the Mongols. The Mongols also conquered and influenced many of the major world powers, China, Russia, Persia, amd India. The Mongols defeated the Poles and were set to move into Western Europe. Only the death of thir great leader, Geghis Khan prevented this.
Haug, Gerald. Nature (January 2007). The group led by Hung studied sediment in Lake Huguang Maar over a 6,000 year period.
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