Ancient China began in around 10,000 BC, over 12,000 years ago! At the start of ancient Chinese civilisation, people lived in small communities but did not have one ruler for the whole country.
Different cultures lived across the country, such as the Yangshao people (5000 – 3000 BC) and the Lungshan people (2500 – 2000 BC).
It wasn’t until 2,000 BC that China was ruled as a whole country by one ruling family, called a dynasty.
This period was known as Imperial China. It ended in 1912, when the Xinhai Revolution happened, and China became a republic.
In Imperial China, each dynasty ruled for a very long time as each emperor was succeeded by his son.
When an emperor was overthrown, the person that won became the next ruler and so a new dynasty started. There were 13 dynasties in ancient China, but four of the most important are below.
The Xia dynasty was the first dynasty of ancient China and was founded by the best engineer from the Lungshan people.
This dynasty was very advanced for its time. They made bricks to build houses, made colourful silk clothes, and used water systems to improve how much crop they grew.
There are no writings from this time, so we only know about this time through ancient stories and ruins.
The Zhou Dynasty was the longest, ruling for over 800 years with 37 different emperors. In this time, Taoism began and was the main way of life in China.
Taoists believe that if you look at life in the right way, it’s much easier to be happy.
The Zhou people made a lot of literature, were interested in science and astronomy (stars), and built roads to improve trade.
Emperor Qin only ruled for 15 years but brought all of China together under one emperor for the first time.
He reformed politics, the army and the economy and standardised all weights and measurements (something we still use today)!
He also built the Great Wall of China This dynasty was a time of war and cruelty. Many people were killed for disagreeing with Qin.
This is the Golden Age of Ancient China. It was a time of peace and little poverty so people were very happy.
The emperors encouraged art, literature, music and craft. Pottery and murals were painted with scenes of daily life, happiness and zodiac signs.
There was lots of travel, trade and sharing knowledge. There were opportunities for learning and training in other countries and in the Imperial palace.