Ancient China Kingdoms

China is not only incredibly large, but has many different environments. Both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River are thought to be the cradle of the Chinese culture.

The southern areas of the country that have the Yangtze River are warm and rainy, and an excellent location for planting a main food crop, rice.

However China is bordered by the Himalayan Mountains, which is one of the main protections nut also kept them in isolation.

Early pre-China:

Archeologists have found skull fossils showing that some areas near Beijing were inhabited by people that used fire and stone tools.

By 5,000 BCE, the area of the Yellow River Valley in the Henan province began to have farming communities.
Yu the Great
Once villages began to develop there were leaders that were needed to assist in food storage and protection from warring tribes.

Various warlords existed in a lot of the kingdoms, each one attacking the other so that there wasn’t any peace.

It’s thought that it was between 2070 and 1600 BCE that Yu the Great founded the Xia Dynasty. One of his main goals was to try to control the flooding problem that happened every year by the Yellow River.
Xia Dynasty

As a leader, Yu also created the first concept in China for dynasty succession. During his reign the cities that were built contained most of the ruling class, which the peasants remained in the farming areas.

The Next Dynasties

In order for any civilization to succeed and flourish it requires a method of communication as well as being able to protect itself.

Shang was the second dynasty and he overthrew the descendants of Yu. His takeover allowed the development of a system of writing, and then the development of bronze metallurgy, architecture, and religion.

By 1046 BCE King Wu created the Zhou dynasty, named after the Zhou province. There was still no single dynasty uniting the country, but Wu did encourage Chinese philosophers such as Confucius, Lao Tzu and Mencius.

He brought about a sophistication of iron metallurgy that enhanced their standing in civilization. Finally, the Qin Dynasty rose up to unite all of the others under one country.

The Great Wall of China was built, stretching over 5,000 km (3,000 mi), covering plains, hills, some boundaries that are today’s Korea, and in the Ordos Desert in the West.

Very few reports come through that the building of the wall also incorporated some of the earlier walls of other Chinese kingdoms.

A major change occurred when Emperor Gao used the Han dynasty to make the changes from an aristocracy run government to one that operated as a bureaucracy.

This was the platform used for government by the succeeding dynasties of Six Dynasty, Sui, Tang, and Song Dynasty.

  • The war in China was known as the Three Kingdoms war, dividing the country into three regions.
  • The early people of China referred to their country as The Middle Kingdom.
  • Military service has changed with a number of the dynasties. In some cases every male was required to serve in the military at least twice in their lifetimes. Later it changed so that professional military and military families appeared. During war times, peasants were recruited to serve in the military.
  • Known as the “time of disorder,” these are two periods that affected the various kingdoms. The first was the Spring and Autumn period where the various states were warring with each other to become the Mandate of Heaven for the claim of emperor. The second time is the Warring States period where the strongest states absorbed smaller ones in an attempt for unification.

Western Zhou States


What are the two rivers in China that are thought to be the cradle of Chinese civilization?

Yangtze and Yellow Rivers

What is the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period known as?

Time of Disorder

What is the war called the divided China?

Three Kingdoms War

How did military service change as dynasties were established?

require military service changed to professional/family service

How long is the Great Wall of China?

5,000 km (3,000 mi)

Which dynasty united all of China?