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Discovery of Ancient Chinese City Rewrites History

Discovery of Ancient Chinese City Rewrites History

In China, an ancient city has been brought to light that could transform our understanding of the origin of civilization in the region. Experts believe the ruined urban settlement in Zhengzhou dates back 5,300 years. This means that Chinese civilization and cities are much older than is commonly assumed.

The Zhengzhou municipal institute of cultural relics and archaeology announced the discovery of the city. Archaeologists unearthed it at the Shuanghuaishu site, which is in, Gongyi, just outside Zhengzhou in Henan. It is in the historic areas known as Zhongyuan or the Central Plains an area, which is traditionally regarded as important in the development of civilization. The site is massive and covers an area over 3 million square feet (279000 sq meters) and is on the south bank of the Yellow River . The Archaeology News Network reports that, ‘The ruins are one of the largest tribal clusters of the middle and late phases of Yangshao Culture, emerging around 7,000 years ago during the Neolithic Age’.

Aerial photo of Shuanghuaishu site in central China's
Henan Province (Image: Li An/Xinhua/
SCIO)

It appears that the settlement was ringed by three deep trenches forming a complex defensive system for the prehistoric urban center. It had a central residential area and there is even evidence of urban planning. Also uncovered was a rudimentary sanitation system, storehouses, even a road system. This city displays many characteristics of civilized urban living, at a much earlier date than widely believed. Moreover, many of the finds suggest that distinctive elements of Chinese culture and society developed much earlier than once believed.

Aerial of part of the ancient Chinese city. Image: Xinhua / SCIO)

Silkworms and astronomy

There have been a great many artifacts from the Yangshao culture found at the site, and they date from 7000 to 5000 years ago. A carved boar tusk in the form of a silkworm may indicate that silk was produced at Shuanghuaishu. China. org quotes Li Boqian, of Peking University as saying that ‘the sculpture of the silkworm also provides evidence of ancient silk production’. This provides evidence that silk was being produced in the Middle Kingdom over five millennia ago.

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A boar tusk carving of a silkworm unearthed at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan province. (Image: Xinhua/ SCIO)

Also found at the location were three platforms, that are believed to have played a role in rituals and ceremonies. Nine earthenware pottery pots were arranged in a pattern reminiscent of the nine stars in the Big Dipper constellation, Ursa Major . This would suggest that the inhabitants had astronomical knowledge at a very early date. Archaeology News Network reports Gu Wanfa, from the Zhengzhou Institute, as saying that these “unearthed objects showed ‘the aura of kings’”. This is because the nine pieces of earthenware pottery could have been used to demonstrate the sacred or special nature of the elite and their rulings.

One of nine pottery pots arranged in the pattern of the nine stars of the Big Dipper, at an astronomical relic at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan province. Image:Xinhua/ SCIO)

Was this Ancient Chinese City the Origin of its Civilization?

In Henan where Shuanghuaishu, is located, archaeologists have found many archaeological sites from the early history of China, including possibly the capital of the Xia Dynasty . The discovery of the city provides evidence that local people transitioned from groups of tribes to urban living over 5000 years ago in Zhongyuan. According to Wang Wei, of the Chinese Society of Archaeology, this site shows that the ‘Development of civilizations accelerated in these areas’, according to Archaeology News Network .

Experts believe that the Shuanghuaishu site is referenced in ancient Chinese literature. Li Boqian told China.org that ‘the location of the site coincides with the descriptions from the ‘Book of Changes’ . This is one of the first books of philosophy and it relates that there was a powerful and sophisticated state on the Yellow River. Li told China.org that, ‘Therefore, the ruins can definitely be considered as part of the Ancient State of the Yellow River and Luo River’.

Legendary rulers

Based on the location of the site there is the possibility that the city was the seat of the semi-mythical monarch Xuanyuan. However, no evidence of a palace has yet been found so it is too early to state if the center was ruled by a king. It has also been theorized that the city flourished during the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor who is credited with teaching people how to grow crops such as rice and millet. Li is quoted by Archaeology News Network , as stating the ruined city comes from ‘a period of time when the earliest China was being incubated’.

The importance of the site cannot be overstated. This city is in an area that has been almost continuously settled for millennia and demonstrates that Zhongyuan was one of the cradles of Chinese civilization. It shows that civilization is much older than often thought in China and is proof that it is over 5000 years old. Shuanghuaishu was granted the coveted status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.

Top image: Aerial view of the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province. Source: Li An/Xinhua/ SCIO

By Ed Whelan


Newly found ancient skull could rewrite human history

(CBS News) Humanity's family tree may need some pruning. The discovery of an ancient skull has revealed clues that could shake up the accepted theories of human evolution.

This 1.8-million-year-old skull was discovered in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. CBS News

From the moment they discovered the skull buried under a village in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, scientists knew they had something applause-worthy.

At 1.8 million years old, the skull may do nothing less than rewrite the history of humanity.

"Skull 5," as it's known, belonged to an adult male with a large jutting jaw and brain case less than half the size of a human today. CBS News

"It's an almost perfectly complete skull," said Jamie Shreeve, executive science editor for National Geographic, "and because of that, it has a lot of information."

"Skull 5," as it's known, belonged to an adult male with a large jutting jaw and brain case less than half the size of a human today. Four other partial skulls were found with it, dating from the same time but with great variations from each other -- the same kind of variations seen in modern humans.

"We don't call modern human pygmies and Eskimos different species obviously," said Shreeve, "and so they think we should not call these things a different species, too."

Trending News

Meaning that instead of many branches in our evolutionary family tree thought to lead to us, like homo habilis and homo ergaster, they may all have just been one: homo erectus.

"You have to be really careful with this," said Shreeve, "because in paleoanthropology you are measuring individuals in order to make conclusions about whole populations or whole species."

Like evolution itself, the understanding of it is a work in progress.

Learn more about National Geographic scientists and explorers here.

First published on October 18, 2013 / 11:32 AM

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning" and other CBS News broadcasts.


A Revolutionary Discovery in China

An eighteenth-century painting showing Emperor Qin Shi Huang of the Qin dynasty &lsquoburning all the books and throwing scholars into a ravine&rsquo in order to stamp out ideological nonconformity after the unification of China in 221 BCE. &lsquoFor over two millennia,&rsquo Ian Johnson writes, &lsquoall our knowledge of China&rsquos great philosophical schools was limited to texts revised after the Qin unification.&rsquo Now a trove of recently discovered ancient documents, written on strips of bamboo, &lsquois helping to reshape our understanding of China&rsquos contentious past.&rsquo Illustration from Henri Bertin&rsquos album The History of the Lives of the Chinese Emperors.

As Beijing prepared to host the 2008 Olympics, a small drama was unfolding in Hong Kong. Two years earlier, middlemen had come into possession of a batch of waterlogged manuscripts that had been unearthed by tomb robbers in south-central China. The documents had been smuggled to Hong Kong and were lying in a vault, waiting for a buyer.

Universities and museums around the Chinese world were interested but reluctant to buy. The documents were written on hundreds of strips of bamboo, about the size of chopsticks, that seemed to date from 2,500 years ago, a time of intense intellectual ferment that gave rise to China&rsquos greatest schools of thought. But their authenticity was in doubt, as were the ethics of buying looted goods. Then, in July, an anonymous graduate of Tsinghua University stepped in, bought the soggy stack, and shipped it back to his alma mater in Beijing.

University administrators acted boldly. They appointed China&rsquos most famous historian, seventy-five-year-old Li Xueqin, to head a team of experts to study the strips. On July 17, the researchers gingerly placed the slips in enamel basins filled with water, hoping to duplicate the environment that had allowed the fibrous material to survive so long.

The next day, disaster struck. Horrified team members noticed that the thin strips had already started developing black spots&mdashfungus that within a day could eat a hole through the bamboo. Administrators convened a crisis meeting, and ordered the school&rsquos top chemistry professors to save the slips.

Over the following weeks, the scientists worked nonstop through the eerily empty campus&mdashthe students were on vacation, and everyone else was focused on the Olympic Green just a few miles east. With the nation on high alert for the games, security officers blocked the scientists from bringing stabilizing chemicals into the locked-down capital. But the university again put its weight behind the project, convincing leaders that the strips were a national priority. By the end of the summer, Professor Li and his team had won their prize: a trove of documents that is helping to reshape our understanding of China&rsquos contentious past.

Until now, this revolution has largely been confined to paleography&mdashthe deciphering of ancient texts. But its importance is slowly spilling into other disciplines, as a result of the deciphering of the Tsinghua bamboo slips now at Tsinghua University, and several other excavations made in the past two decades. Although their significance is not widely understood in the West, in China they have already aroused popular interest, with newspapers and television reporting as these texts are edited and published. 1 And yet the implications of these unearthed texts are so profound that they will take decades to digest.

The newly discovered texts challenge long-held certainties about this era. Chinese political thought as exemplified by Confucius allowed for meritocracy among officials, eventually leading to the famous examination system on which China&rsquos imperial bureaucracy was founded. But the texts show that some philosophers believed that rulers should also be chosen on merit, not birth&mdashradically different from the hereditary dynasties that came to dominate Chinese history. The texts also show a world in which magic and divination, even in the supposedly secular world of Confucius, played a much larger part than has been realized. And instead of an age in which sages neatly espoused discrete schools of philosophy, we now see a more fluid, dynamic world of vigorously competing views&mdashthe sort of robust exchange of ideas rarely prominent in subsequent eras.

When China&rsquos imperial system collapsed in the early twentieth century, iconoclasts used the lack of ancient texts to question everything about China&rsquos past. Led by one of China&rsquos most influential historians of the twentieth century, Gu Jiegang, this &ldquodoubt antiquity&rdquo (yigu) movement cast aspersions on the received history that Chinese had learned for millennia, from the existence of its first dynasties to the uniformity of the great philosophical texts. 3 For Gu Jiegang and his allies, Chinese history was much like the West&rsquos, founded in myth and oral traditions that only slowly evolved into written works at a much later date. These were plausible theses, but Gu had no archaeological evidence to back his ideas, instead relying on close readings of the transmitted texts to find inconsistencies.

In China, this skeptical approach to the past was displaced by the Communist victory in 1949. History was interpreted through another unbending lens: Marxism&rsquos rigid eras of primitive, slave, feudal, and capitalist societies that would culminate in communism. Although this schema can still be seen in some Chinese museums, few people have truly believed in it since the disasters of the Mao era discredited Communist ideology. But over the years since then, as China struggles to create a new identity, a &ldquobelieve in antiquity&rdquo (xingu) movement has slowly taken hold&mdashone promoted today by the Communist Party, which idealizes a neat past of filial piety and harmony, a harmless, fairy-tale world, anesthetized and dull. 4

The discovery of ancient texts has begun a challenge to these simplistic positions. In 1993, tomb robbers were thwarted in the village of Guodian, in central China&rsquos Hubei province. Archaeologists stepped in and found eight hundred bamboo slips. The next year, 1,200 slips were smuggled to Hong Kong and bought by the Shanghai Museum. The Tsinghua strips followed in 2008, numbering nearly two thousand full slips (the final number is in flux as fragments are being pieced together). All three finds likely came from the same region of China near the Yangtze that used to be occupied by the state of Chu. Carbon dating shows that all three were buried around 300 BCE , right around the time that Confucius&rsquos chief disciple, Mencius, died.

These are not easy manuscripts to decipher. They contain many irregular characters, leading paleographers to debate the exact meaning of important passages. The Tsinghua texts, for example, are being issued in volumes with a version agreed upon by Professor Li&rsquos team but also with dissenting views. (Only about a third of the Tsinghua slips have been published, with one volume released each year. Another ten are projected.)

Academics in China have responded with thousands of books and articles, discussing every detail of the new texts. Western scholars have joined in a bit more slowly. But, perhaps with the benefit of distance, they are drawing broader and more provocative conclusions. 5 One example is The Bamboo Texts of Guodian, an epic, 1,200-page annotation and translation of all eight hundred slips from Guodian by Scott Cook of Yale-NUS College in Singapore. 6 This is the most complete rendering of the Guodian discovery in any language, including Chinese, and is an example of the sort of cross-cultural work now possible among paleographers who share their ideas and views on blogs and in chatrooms.

Most notable among the Guodian texts is a version of the Daoist classic, Laozi&rsquos Daodejing (better known in the West by the older Romanization form as Lao-tzu&rsquos Tao Te Ching, or &ldquoThe Way and Its Power&rdquo). Cook writes that the discoveries at least partly confirm traditional views of the antiquity of the Daodejing, a hotly debated subject for the past century, especially in the West.

This is because antiquity doubters like Gu influenced many of the West&rsquos most important sinologists of the twentieth century. In his highly influential 1963 Penguin translation of the Daodejing, for example, D.C. Lau arbitrarily adds 196 subheadings to the text, arguing that these were independent sayings with only a &ldquotenuous&rdquo connection to each other, and were only collected much later, and in a haphazard manner. The newly excavated texts, however, show that at least large chunks of the Daodejing were circulating in China in the Warring States Period. Some Chinese scholars like Cook and Li believe that the full text existed at that point.

Bamboo slips from the Tang Yu Zhi Dao, an ancient text from the Guodian excavation advocating &lsquorule by the most meritorious&rsquo and &lsquoabdication as a means of succession.&rsquo According to Sarah Allan in Buried Ideas, it &lsquoreflects ideas that were current in the late fifth and early fourth centuries BCE.&rsquo

But the most revolutionary implications of these texts are political. In her 1981 book The Heir and the Sage, the Dartmouth paleographer Sarah Allan presciently described the central part that abdication played in ancient Chinese thought. As elsewhere in the world at this time, philosophers were grappling with the best way to organize and lead states. Should one be loyal to one&rsquos family (and thus support hereditary rule) or should one put the best interests of the state (and the people) first, and accept that the best person should run the land?

One school of Chinese thought, Mohism, advocated meritocracy in the appointment of officials, while other schools referred to ancient kings who handed rule to sagacious ministers rather than their sons. These legends of abdication were also incorporated in the work of Mencius. He accepted hereditary rule, but with the caveat that if a ruler was very bad, then the people could abandon him and the &ldquomandate of heaven&rdquo could pass to a better ruler. But overall the transmitted texts support hereditary rule revolt was meant to be a measure of last resort to depose a tyrant or a grossly incompetent ruler. Abdication was consigned to the primordial past.

The new texts reveal that other philosophers took much more radical positions. Some contend that every ruler eventually should abdicate in favor of the most talented person in the land. And not just that, but at least one of the new texts is explicitly Confucian in origin, forcing us to revise our view of that school of thought. Sarah Allan makes the case for this in her bold new book, Buried Ideas: Legends of Abdication and Ideal Government in Early Chinese Bamboo-Slip Manuscripts. This is a translation of four texts, all previously unknown, all firmly in the intellectual world of the followers of Confucius, but all arguing strenuously in favor of meritocracy&mdasheven for rulers.

One of the texts, Tang Yu Zhi Dao, or The Way of Tang Yao and Yu Shun, from the Guodian excavation, is a philosophical discourse that is based on a well-known myth of King Yao yielding power not to his evil son, but to his wise minister, Shun. But instead of being presented as an exception, as it is in the previous transmitted texts, the story is told as a model for all rulers in every era: &ldquoTo abdicate and not monopolize is the fullest expression of sagehood.&rdquo

Allan also analyzes two texts from the collection in the Shanghai Museum. One is a meritocratic discussion in the form of questions and answers between Confucius and his disciple Zigao. In the known Confucian texts that contain stories of Confucius&rsquos life&mdashprimarily the Analects and the Mencius&mdashZigao is described as a ne&rsquoer-do-well and a marginal figure. But here he is a welcome interlocutor of the sage and asks him about the issue of abdication, which Confucius supports&mdasha view never attributed to Confucius before. This text also shows Confucius discussing esoteric issues such as divine insemination and miraculous birth&mdasha direct challenge to the conventional view of Confucius as a secularist who, as the Analects put it, &ldquodid not talk about uncanny events, feats of strength, disorders, or spirits.&rdquo

The other text from Shanghai, the Rongchengshi, is a long narrative describing an idealized time when all served according to their ability, not according to their birth. The final text, the Bao xun from the Tsinghua collection, is an instruction from a king to his son, reminding him that abdication is a high ideal.

In her lucid introduction and conclusion, Allan cautions that these texts do not form a coherent philosophical school. 7 But they do make references to people and arguments found in the extant canon, making it plausible that Mencius&rsquos &ldquomandate of heaven&rdquo was a direct response to these kinds of writings, a kind of compromise that protected hereditary rule by incorporating some of the meritocrats&rsquo views. Such stories, Allan writes,

served to promote abdication as an alternative to hereditary rule. This paradigm of abdication is the only alternative to the idea of dynastic cycle found in the Chinese tradition and it did not survive the Qin and Han dynasties as an idea for an alternative form of succession.

Do these old texts matter today? They do in several ways. One has to do with the antiquity of China&rsquos written culture. In the West, many classic texts, for example by Homer or stories in the Bible, are widely accepted as having been oral works that later were written down&mdasha view of history picked up by Gu and the antiquity-doubters of the early twentieth century. Even though Gu was sidelined in China, his heirs in the West have tended to dismiss traditional views that important works in China were written down early on, or even composed as written texts. For many of these skeptical Westerners, Chinese efforts to prove the antiquity of their culture is closet chauvinism, or part of a project to glorify the Chinese state by exaggerating the antiquity of Chinese civilization.

But the new discoveries should give pause to this skepticism. Allan argues that the texts were indeed primarily written down, and not transcribed oral tales. Besides the Daodejing, only a few of the texts excavated over the past twenty years have mnemonic devices or rhyme. She writes that even the texts that claim to be speeches of ancient kings originated as literary compositions. And as the Guodian texts show, works like the Daodejing took a written form earlier than skeptics believed, possibly even as early as the traditionalists have always claimed.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France/Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource

&lsquoEmperor Qin Shi Huang traveling in a palanquin,&rsquo late third century BCE eighteenth-century painting from The History of the Lives of the Chinese Emperors

And yet the texts also challenge the traditionalists. Even today, Mencius&rsquos &ldquomandate of heaven&rdquo is essentially the argument used by the Communist Party to justify its rule: the Kuomintang had become corrupt and ineffective, thus the Communists were justified in usurping power. The Party&rsquos continued rule is likewise justified by China&rsquos economic development, which proves heaven&rsquos support (&ldquohistory&rsquos judgment,&rdquo in Communist parlance). But true to Chinese tradition, the Party makes clear that its rule is hereditary. This is true not only broadly in the sense that other parties cannot take power, but narrowly in the creation of a quasi-hereditary class that has coalesced around &ldquored&rdquo families that helped found the Communist state. The old texts, however, show that even in ancient China, a significant group of writers disapproved of such practices, arguing for rule based purely on merit rather than membership in a group.

Without viewing the past too much through today&rsquos lens, one can also see other intriguing parallels to contemporary society. Back in the Warring States Period, rising literacy and urbanization gave rise to a class of gentlemen scholars, or shi, who advised kings some thought that they might be better qualified than the person born to the throne&mdashthe origins of the meritocracy argument. Today, similar trends are at work, but on a much broader scale. Now, instead of a scholar class that wants a say, it is the entire population.

One might even say that the excavated texts show a more freewheeling society than today&rsquos. Here we encounter a past that was home to vigorous debates&mdasha place where Confucians approved of kings abdicating, and might even have fancied themselves capable of ruling. Today&rsquos China also has such ideas, but like the bamboo slips before their discovery, they are buried and their excavation taboo.

The main offices of China&rsquos National Archives are located just north of the Forbidden City in a small campus of 1950s-era buildings. This was a brief period when the new People&rsquos Republic was trying to develop its own architectural style, and several famous architects came up with a hybrid form: the main structure made of brick, not wood, allowing it to be much bigger and higher, but the roofs tiled and the eaves curved. At the time, many condemned the style as a pastiche, but these are among the few buildings in the capital that bridge the past with the present.

I went there in 2014 to hear a public talk by Liu Guozhong, one of Professor Li&rsquos chief deputies. Almost every year, the team gives a public update on its work. As one of the younger and more dynamic members, the task often falls to him. A southerner with a heavy Hunan accent, Professor Liu is humorous and engaging, and spoke for ninety minutes without notes.

Liu told a crowd of about one hundred the story of how he and other members of the team saved the strips from rot in 2008. He showed pictures of how the strips were now being held in trays in a dark room and how the university was building a museum and research center. Then he outlined some of the new texts soon to be released: a chart for multiplying and dividing complex numbers, as well as new books of divination.

Liu spoke carefully and avoided grand conclusions. In person at their offices or at international conferences that they organized, team members speak freely, but their writings and comments are focused on very specific issues. At one conference, I sat next to Sarah Allan, who noticed the same thing.

&ldquoI don&rsquot know if it&rsquos especially Chinese, or a result of the past decades [of political turmoil], but people often don&rsquot try to make bigger conclusions,&rdquo she told me. &ldquoThey write the papers and do the research with the big picture in their head, but rarely write it down.&rdquo

And yet many people do seem to get the implications. Paleography is a popular field, attracting some of the best young Chinese academics. When I asked Professor Liu about this, he told me that up until the 1970s, &ldquoWe had these classics like the Shangshu [the Ancient Documents], and for two thousand years they didn&rsquot change. Now we can see them before that and the texts are different!&rdquo

At his lecture, Professor Liu said the work will keep him busy until he returns, adding: &ldquoBut then you and others will be debating this for the rest of this century.&rdquo He then concluded and bowed to the audience. People rushed the stage, peppering the young academic with questions. There was a man from the I Ching Research Society asking how they should treat the new texts on divination. A journalist asked about a chart that could be used as a calculator. A graduate student from Peking University eagerly asked about the political implications of abdication. Professor Liu answered them all, while handing out name cards. When the last of his stack was gone, people began to pass them around, snapping photos of his card with cell phones.

The room was lit now only by the dim winter sun. The guards at the back waited to lock the door, but the crowd wouldn&rsquot let Professor Liu leave. For them, he held a key to the present: the past.


Newly discovered ancient DNA rewrites the history of South and Central America

Analysis of the remains of 49 people has revealed that there were at least three major immigration waves from North to South America, instead of just one, as scientists previously believed.

Researchers to date only knew of the first migrants, who arrived in South America at least 11,000 years ago. But DNA analysis published in Cell on November 8 suggests that a second group of settlers replaced the first about 9,000 years ago. And a third group arrived in South America around 4,800 years after that.

An international team of geneticists, including those from the Harvard Medical School in the US and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, analyzed the genomes of the skeletal remains of 49 people found in Belize, Brazil, the Central Andes (which includes parts of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru), and the Southern Cone of South America (which includes Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and parts of Brazil). Of those 49, 41 were more than 1,000 years old.

Not only did this work reveal the three distinct flows of genes to South America, researchers also found that, around 9,000 years ago, the genes from the first wave of migrants almost totally disappeared. This suggests that the second wave of migrants replaced the first, though it’s not clear how this happened.

A separate study of 15 different human genomes found in the Americas, ranging from modern-day Alaska to Patagonia (six of which were older than 10,000 years) published on the same day in Science, shows the movement of populations across the continent. The research also showed that some of the remains found in Brazil had an indigenous Australasian genetic biomarker. The scientists hypothesize that the genetic connection between ancient Australasians and ancient Brazilians is due to migrants traveling by land. But, as there are no genetic traces of this journey from any skeletal remains in between the two continents, it’s still a mystery.

That said, one thing is clear: these ancient people were moving fast. “People were spreading like a fire across the landscape and very quickly adapted to the different environments they were encountering,” Eske Willerslev, geneticist at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen and co-author of the Science study told Science News.

The two papers are some of the first to show the intricate variation of movement among the populations that made up the first migrants to South America. “I think this series of papers will be remembered as the first glimpse of the real complexity of these multiple peopling events,” Ben Potter, an archaeologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks who was not involved in the study told Nature. “It’s awesome.”


China

The Chinese system of medicine is of great antiquity and is independent of any recorded external influences. According to tradition, Huangdi (the “ Yellow Emperor”), one of the legendary founders of Chinese civilization, wrote the canon of internal medicine called the Huangdi neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) in the 3rd millennium bce there is some evidence that in its present form it dates from no earlier than the 3rd century bce . Most of the Chinese medical literature is founded on the Huangdi neijing, and it is still regarded as a great authority. Other famous works are the Mojing (known in the West as the “Pulse Classic”), composed about 300 ce , and the Yuzhuan yizong jinjian (“Imperially Commissioned Golden Mirror of the Orthodox Lineage of Medicine,” also known in English as the Golden Mirror), a compilation made in 1742 of medical writings of the Han dynasty (202 bce –220 ce ). European medicine began to obtain a footing in China early in the 19th century, but the native system is still widely practiced.

Basic to traditional Chinese medicine is the dualistic cosmic theory of yinyang. The yang, the male principle, is active and light and is represented by the heavens. The yin, the female principle, is passive and dark and is represented by the earth. The human body, like matter in general, is made up of five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. With these are associated other groups of five, such as the five planets, the five conditions of the atmosphere, the five colours, and the five tones. Health, character, and the success of all political and private ventures are determined by the preponderance, at the time, of the yin or the yang, and the great aim of ancient Chinese medicine is to control their proportions in the body.

The teachings of the religious sects forbade the mutilation of the dead human body hence, traditional anatomy rests on no sure scientific foundation. One of the most important writers on anatomy, Wang Qingren, gained his knowledge from the inspection of dog-torn children who had died in a plague epidemic in 1798 ce . Traditional Chinese anatomy is based on the cosmic system, which postulates the presence of such hypothetical structures as the 12 channels and the three so-called burning spaces. The body contains five organs (heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys), which store up but do not eliminate, and five viscera (such as the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, and bladder), which eliminate but do not store up. Each organ is associated with one of the planets, colours, tones, smells, and tastes. There are 365 bones and 365 joints in the body.

According to the physiology of traditional Chinese medicine, the blood vessels contain blood and air, in proportions varying with those of the yin and the yang. These two cosmic principles circulate in the 12 channels and control the blood vessels and hence the pulse. The Huangdi neijing says that “the blood current flows continuously in a circle and never stops. It may be compared to a circle without beginning or end.” On this insubstantial evidence it has been claimed that the Chinese anticipated Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood. Traditional Chinese pathology is also dependent on the theory of the yin and the yang this led to an elaborate classification of diseases in which most of the types listed are without scientific foundation.

In diagnosis, detailed questions are asked about the history of the illness and about such things as the patient’s taste, smell, and dreams. Conclusions are drawn from the quality of the voice, and note is made of the colour of the face and of the tongue. The most important part of the investigation, however, is the examination of the pulse. Wang Shuhe, who wrote the “Pulse Classic,” lived in the 3rd century bce , and innumerable commentaries were written on his work. The pulse is examined in several places, at different times, and with varying degrees of pressure. The operation may take as long as three hours. It is often the only examination made, and it is used both for diagnosis and for prognosis. Not only are the diseased organs ascertained, but the time of death or recovery may be foretold.

The Chinese materia medica has always been extensive and consists of vegetable, animal (including human), and mineral remedies. There were famous herbals from ancient times, but all these, to the number of about 1,000, were embodied by Li Shijen in the compilation of Bencao gangmu (the “Great Pharmacopoeia”) in the 16th century ce . This work, in 52 volumes, has been frequently revised and reprinted and is still authoritative. The use of drugs is mainly to restore the harmony of the yin and the yang and is also related to such matters as the five organs, the five planets, and the five colours. The art of prescribing is therefore complex.

Among the drugs taken over by Western medicine from the Chinese are rhubarb, iron (for anemia), castor oil, kaolin, aconite, camphor, and Cannabis sativa (Indian hemp). Chaulmoogra oil was used by the Chinese for leprosy from at least the 14th century, and about the 19th century it began to be used for this purpose by Western physicians. The herb mahuang (Ephedra vulgaris) has been used in China for at least 4,000 years, and the isolation of the alkaloid ephedrine from it has greatly improved the Western treatment of asthma and similar conditions.

The most famous and expensive of Chinese remedies is ginseng. Western analysis has shown that it has diuretic and other properties but is of doubtful value. Reserpine, the active principle of the Chinese plant Rauwolfia, has also been isolated and has been effectively used in the treatment of hypertension (high blood pressure) and some emotional and mental conditions.

Hydrotherapy is probably of Chinese origin, since cold baths were used for fevers as early as 180 bce . The inoculation of smallpox matter, in order to produce a mild but immunizing attack of the disease, was practiced in China from ancient times and came to Europe about 1720. Another treatment is moxibustion, which consists in making a small, moistened cone (moxa) of powdered leaves of mugwort, or wormwood (Artemisia species), applying it to the skin, igniting it, and then crushing it into the blister so formed. Other substances are also used for the moxa. Dozens of these are sometimes applied at one sitting. The practice is often associated with acupuncture.

Acupuncture consists of the insertion into the skin and underlying tissues of a metal needle, either hot or cold. The theory is that the needle affects the distribution of the yin and the yang in the hypothetical channels and burning spaces of the body. The site of the insertion is chosen to affect a particular organ or organs. The practice of acupuncture dates from before 2500 bce and is peculiarly Chinese. Little of practical importance has been added since that date, although there have been many well-known treatises on the subject.

A bronze model circa 860 ce shows the hundreds of specified points for the insertion of the needle this was the forerunner of countless later models and diagrams. The needles used are 3 to 24 cm (about 1 to 9 inches) in length. They are often inserted with considerable force and after insertion may be agitated or screwed to the left or right. Acupuncture, often combined with moxibustion, is still widely used for many diseases, including fractures. Patients in the Western world have turned to acupuncturists for relief from pain and other symptoms. There is some speculation that the treatment may trigger the brain to release morphinelike substances called endorphins, which presumably reduce the feeling of pain and its concomitant emotions.


History

A 2,300-year-old ceramic jar filled with the bones of a dismembered chicken was likely part of an ancient curse to paralyze and kill 55 people in ancient Athens, archaeologists say.

Arrowhead from biblical battle discovered in Goliath's hometown

A bone arrowhead found in the ancient Philistine city of Gath may have been fired off by the city's defenders as part of a last stand described in the Bible.

Ancient Judeans ate non-kosher fish, archaeologists find

Fish that don't have fins and scales are considered non-kosher according to the Torah, but they were frequently eaten by the ancient Judeans.

Oldest gold artifact in southwest Germany found

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest gold artifact in southwest Germany, a delicate gold spiral buried in the 3,800-year-old tomb of a woman.

6 sacrificial pits filled with artifacts reveal rituals of ancient Chinese kingdom

Archaeologists have discovered six sacrificial pits containing about 500 artifacts, including gold and bronze masks, in the ancient Chinese city of Sanxingdui.

Mary, Queen of Scots' rosary beads stolen in English castle heist

A number of valuable artifacts — including "irreplaceable" prayer beads belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots — have been stolen from Arundel Castle in England.

Huge cemetery with at least 250 rock-cut tombs discovered in Egypt

About 250 tombs, some with fancy layouts and hieroglyphics, have been discovered cut into a hill at Al-Hamidiyah cemetery in Egypt.

Scientists find 'missing link' behind first human languages

"Iconic vocalizations" may have been the missing link that allowed the first human languages to develop, a new study suggests.

MLK and Malcolm X were more alike than we thought. Here's why.

By Jonathan Gordon, All About History

Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are two of the most iconic figures of the 20th century and of the civil rights movement. And they were more alike than many may have thought.

Duke of Brittany hid image of dead wife in 15th-century prayer book

A hidden image in an ornately illustrated 15th-century prayer book reveals that the duke of Brittany at the time painted over an image of his dead wife with his then-current wife.

Frederick Douglass: The slave who became a statesman

How did Frederick Douglass, an enslaved man from Maryland, become an international celebrity, author and abolitionist hero?

Hindenburg disaster's earliest moments captured in newly released footage

A bystander captured a view of the burning Hindenburg airship in a location apart from the newsreel cameras that filmed the best-known angle of the tragedy.

Roman-era skeleton found near Mount Vesuvius may be from famous rescue mission

The skeleton of a Roman-era skeleton found near Mount Vesuvius may be from the famous rescue mission led by Pliny the Elder in A.D. 79.

Giant figure etched into English hillside could be 1,000-year-old portrait of a naked god

A giant carved into an English hill could be a pagan reaction to Christian domination, but scientists think it is more likely the giant received his most flattering modification in recent years.

Ecuadorian shrunken head used in 1979 movie 'Wise Blood' was real, experts say

A tsantsa, or shrunken head, that was brought to the U.S. in the 1940s has been returned to Ecuador, where it was originally created by Indigenous people for ceremonial use.

Albert Einstein's lost letter to British engineer suggests 'unknown physics' in animal behavior

In a newly discovered letter written by Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist suggested there could be a link between the migrations of birds and "unknown" physical processes.

World's oldest cave art, including famous hand stencils, being erased by climate change

Some of the world's earliest cave art is degenerating at an "alarming rate" due to climate change, according to a new study.


Ancient City Containing Huge Pyramid Unearthed in China

Recent news from China tell us of the discovery of a massive stepped pyramid. It rose at least 230 feet high and measured 59 acres at the base.

The imposing pyramid structure was situated in the heart of a long lost city that at one time encompassed an area of 988 acres, making it one of the largest in the world for its era.

According to Antiquity, the journal which released the news in August 2018, the city and the pyramid were evidently a prominent center of power at the time — some 4,000 years ago.

Eyes and anthropomorphic symbols adorning the pyramid have been interpreted as something that could have designated the structure’s special status in both religious and economic terms. Remnants of extensive stone walls and ramparts testify the city was capable of defending itself.

Shaanxi Province, China. Photo by Till Niermann CC BY SA 3.0

These reports come after several years of excavation at the Shimao ruins, located in China’s northern province of Shaanxi. Archaeologists have been aware of the site since its discovery in the mid-1970s, the original name of which is unknown, but they little idea had of its significance until now.

It had previously been assumed the neolithic stone remnants were what’s left of a small town connected to the Great Wall of China. But the city of Shimao turns out to predate the Great Wall, which was built between 2,700 and 400 years ago.

Another strange aspect is the city’s location, which has been traditionally considered as being on the periphery of early Chinese civilization. Why was there such a thriving center in China’s Central Plains in such an early era?

According to the archaeology team, the city would have flourished for some five centuries, with life centered around the pyramid. Bearing in mind the vast territory Shimao occupied, the city would have also scored high on the list of largest settlements from antiquity.

The origin of the human remains has been traced to Zhukaigou, another archaeological site to the north of Shimao.

The pyramid is composed of 11 stone-supported steps. Whoever ruled the city had the privilege to live on the uppermost part of it — a large plaza where palace remnants have been found.

Researchers have described the palace in the study to have been made of rammed earth, pillars of wood, with a roof covered with tiles. More remains include those of a colossal reservoir for water and ancient leftovers of daily life.

While the pyramid housed the reigning Shimao elites, researchers wrote, part of its space was reserved also for producing arts and crafts.

Theories that the Shimao occupants may have reigned over their neighborhoods are also discussed. Archaeologists have located “six pits containing decapitated human heads” around the complex. The origin of the human remains has been traced to Zhukaigou, another archaeological site located to the north of Shimao.

Things you may not know about The Mayans

The study suggests the Zhukaigou people could have been captured in times when Shimao expanded, according to morphological analysis carried out within the research scope, as reported by Live Science.

More intriguing findings and aspects that speak of the power and prestige of this ancient city? Carved jade artifacts were found in voids between stone blocks composing the numerous structures around Shimao. A mural that was also found is now in the game to receive the title of China’s oldest, at around 4,000 years of age.

A jade artifact found at Shimao. Photo by Siyuwj/ CC BY SA 4.0

Not to mention how secured the pyramid was with all its protection of stone walls, parapets, and refined bulwarks by the main gate entrance. Movement through the entrances must have been heavily controlled. Everything about the design of the pyramid implies the rules to enter were rigid. Not everyone would have been invited to chip in on any of the important rituals or political gatherings held on the plaza area on the top.

The pyramid’s height itself is imposing enough. Even people occupying the remotest dwellings in the area would have been able to see it.

Artifacts found at Shimao. Photo by Siyuwj CC BY-SA 4.0

As the researchers note in the paper, the pyramid “could well have provided a constant and overwhelming reminder to the Shimao population of the power of the ruling elites residing atop it – a concrete example of the ‘social pyramid.’”

So suddenly, everything we knew about early Chinese civilization feels undermined. Which were its “centers” and which were its “peripheries”? What was the real name of Shimao and who were the people who led the city to prosper? We are left to wonder for a while.

Stefan is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Vintage News. He is a graduate in Literature. He also runs the blog This City Knows.


Contents

Paleolithic (3.3 Ma

What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago. [7] Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated to 1.36 million years ago. [8] The archaeological site of Xihoudu in Shanxi Province has evidence of use of fire by Homo erectus, [9] which is dated 1.27 million years ago, [7] and Homo erectus fossils in China include the Yuanmou Man, the Lantian Man and the Peking Man. Fossilised teeth of Homo sapiens dating to 125,000–80,000 BC have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Dao County in Hunan. [10] Evidence of Middle Palaeolithic Levallois technology has been found in the lithic assemblage of Guanyindong Cave site in southwest China, dated to approximately 170,000–80,000 years ago. [11]

Neolithic

The Neolithic age in China can be traced back to about 10,000 BC. [12] The earliest evidence of cultivated rice, found by the Yangtze River, is carbon-dated to 8,000 years ago. [13] Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BC. [14] Farming gave rise to the Jiahu culture (7000 to 5800 BC). At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC have been discovered, "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing". [ attribution needed ] These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. [15] Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BC, [16] Dadiwan from 5800 BC to 5400 BC, Damaidi around 6000 BC [17] and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BC. Some scholars have suggested that Jiahu symbols (7th millennium BC) were the earliest Chinese writing system. [16] Excavation of a Peiligang culture site in Xinzheng county, Henan, found a community that flourished in 5,500 to 4,900 BC, with evidence of agriculture, constructed buildings, pottery, and burial of the dead. [18] With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators. [13] In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a center of Yangshao culture (5000 BC to 3000 BC), and the first villages were founded the most archaeologically significant of these was found at Banpo, Xi'an. [19] Later, Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture, which was also centered on the Yellow River from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

Bronze Age

Bronze artifacts have been found at the Majiayao culture site (between 3100 and 2700 BC). [20] [21] The Bronze Age is also represented at the Lower Xiajiadian culture (2200–1600 BC [22] ) site in northeast China. Sanxingdui located in what is now Sichuan province is believed to be the site of a major ancient city, of a previously unknown Bronze Age culture (between 2000 and 1200 BC). The site was first discovered in 1929 and then re-discovered in 1986. Chinese archaeologists have identified the Sanxingdui culture to be part of the ancient kingdom of Shu, linking the artifacts found at the site to its early legendary kings. [23] [24]

Ferrous metallurgy begins to appear in the late 6th century in the Yangzi Valley. [25] A bronze tomahawk with a blade of meteoric iron excavated near the city of Gaocheng in Shijiazhuang (now Hebei province) has been dated to the 14th century BC. For this reason, authors such as Liana Chua and Mark Elliott have used the term "Iron Age" by convention for the transitional period of c. 500 BC to 100 BC, roughly corresponding to the Warring States period of Chinese historiography. [26] An Iron Age culture of the Tibetan Plateau has tentatively been associated with the Zhang Zhung culture described in early Tibetan writings.

Xia dynasty (2070 – 1600 BC)

The Xia dynasty of China (from c. 2070 to c. 1600 BC) is the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals. [5] The dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. [27] With few clear records matching the Shang oracle bones, it remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period. [28] Excavations that overlap the alleged time period of the Xia indicate a type of culturally similar groupings of chiefdoms. Early markings from this period found on pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese characters. [29]

According to ancient records, the dynasty ended around 1600 BC as a consequence of the Battle of Mingtiao.

Shang dynasty (1600 – 1046 BC)

Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two sets. The first set, from the earlier Shang period, comes from sources at Erligang, Zhengzhou, and Shangcheng. The second set, from the later Shang or Yin (殷) period, is at Anyang, in modern-day Henan, which has been confirmed as the last of the Shang's nine capitals (c. 1300–1046 BC). [ citation needed ] The findings at Anyang include the earliest written record of the Chinese so far discovered: inscriptions of divination records in ancient Chinese writing on the bones or shells of animals—the "oracle bones", dating from around 1250 BC. [1]

A series of thirty-one kings reigned over the Shang dynasty. During their reign, according to the Records of the Grand Historian, the capital city was moved six times. [30] The final (and most important) move was to Yin in around 1300 BC which led to the dynasty's golden age. [30] The term Yin dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang dynasty in history, although it has lately been used to refer specifically to the latter half of the Shang dynasty.

Chinese historians in later periods were accustomed to the notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the political situation in early China was much more complicated. Hence, as some scholars of China suggest, the Xia and the Shang can refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just as the early Zhou existed at the same time as the Shang. [31]

Although written records found at Anyang confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty, [32] Western scholars are often hesitant to associate settlements that are contemporaneous with the Anyang settlement with the Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike Anyang. The evidence is inconclusive in proving how far the Shang realm extended from Anyang. The leading hypothesis is that Anyang, ruled by the same Shang in the official history, coexisted and traded with numerous other culturally diverse settlements in the area that is now referred to as China proper. [33]

Bronze square ding (cauldron) with human faces.

Bronze Battle Axe, Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). Excavated at Yidu, Shandong Province.

A Shang dynasty bronze vessel to preserve drink

Zhou dynasty (1046 – 256 BC)

The Zhou dynasty (1046 BC to approximately 256 BC) is the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley, overrunning the territory of the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The Zhou lived west of the Shang, and the Zhou leader was appointed Western Protector by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his brother, the Duke of Zhou, as regent, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye.

The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that was influential for almost every succeeding dynasty. [ citation needed ] Like Shangdi, Heaven (tian) ruled over all the other gods, and it decided who would rule China. [34] It was believed that a ruler lost the Mandate of Heaven when natural disasters occurred in great number, and when, more realistically, the sovereign had apparently lost his concern for the people. In response, the royal house would be overthrown, and a new house would rule, having been granted the Mandate of Heaven.

The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern Xi'an, on the Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River, but they would preside over a series of expansions into the Yangtze River valley. This would be the first of many population migrations from north to south in Chinese history.

Spring and Autumn period (722 – 476 BC)

In the 8th century BC, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn period, named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals. In this period, local military leaders used by the Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony. The situation was aggravated by the invasion of other peoples from the northwest, such as the Qin, forcing the Zhou to move their capital east to Luoyang. This marks the second major phase of the Zhou dynasty: the Eastern Zhou. The Spring and Autumn period is marked by a falling apart of the central Zhou power. In each of the hundreds of states that eventually arose, local strongmen held most of the political power and continued their subservience to the Zhou kings in name only. Some local leaders even started using royal titles for themselves. China now consisted of hundreds of states, some of them only as large as a village with a fort.

As the era continued, larger and more powerful states annexed or claimed suzerainty over smaller ones. By the 6th century BC most small states had disappeared by being annexed and just a few large and powerful principalities dominated China. Some southern states, such as Chu and Wu, claimed independence from the Zhou, who undertook wars against some of them (Wu and Yue). Many new cities were established in this period and Chinese culture was slowly shaped.

Once all these powerful rulers had firmly established themselves within their respective dominions, the bloodshed focused more fully on interstate conflict in the Warring States period, which began when the three remaining élite families in the Jin state—Zhao, Wei and Han—partitioned the state. Many famous individuals such as Laozi, Confucius and Sun Tzu lived during this chaotic period.

The Hundred Schools of Thought of Chinese philosophy blossomed during this period, and such influential intellectual movements as Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism and Mohism were founded, partly in response to the changing political world. The first two philosophical thoughts would have an enormous influence on Chinese culture.

Warring States period (476 – 221 BC)

After further political consolidation, seven prominent states remained by the end of the 5th century BC, and the years in which these few states battled each other are known as the Warring States period. Though there remained a nominal Zhou king until 256 BC, he was largely a figurehead and held little real power.

Numerous developments were made during this period in culture and mathematics. Examples include an important literary achievement, the Zuo zhuan on the Spring and Autumn Annals, which summarizes the preceding Spring and Autumn period, and the bundle of 21 bamboo slips from the Tsinghua collection, which was invented during this period dated to 305 BC, are the world's earliest example of a two digit decimal multiplication table, indicating that sophisticated commercial arithmetic was already established during this period. [35]

As neighboring territories of these warring states, including areas of modern Sichuan and Liaoning, were annexed, they were governed under the new local administrative system of commandery and prefecture. This system had been in use since the Spring and Autumn period, and parts can still be seen in the modern system of Sheng and Xian (province and county).

The final expansion in this period began during the reign of Ying Zheng, the king of Qin. His unification of the other six powers, and further annexations in the modern regions of Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi in 214 BC, enabled him to proclaim himself the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang).

The Imperial China Period can be divided into three sub-periods: Early, Middle, and Late.

Major events in the Early sub-period include the Qin unification of China and their replacement by the Han, the First Split followed by the Jin unification, and the loss of north China. The Middle sub-period was marked by the Sui unification and their supplementation by the Tang, the Second Split, and the Song unification. The Late sub-period included the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.

Qin dynasty (221 – 206 BC)

Historians often refer to the period from the Qin dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty as Imperial China. Though the unified reign of the First Qin Emperor lasted only 12 years, he managed to subdue great parts of what constitutes the core of the Han Chinese homeland and to unite them under a tightly centralized Legalist government seated at Xianyang (close to modern Xi'an). The doctrine of Legalism that guided the Qin emphasized strict adherence to a legal code and the absolute power of the emperor. This philosophy, while effective for expanding the empire in a military fashion, proved unworkable for governing it in peacetime. The Qin Emperor presided over the brutal silencing of political opposition, including the event known as the burning of books and burying of scholars. This would be the impetus behind the later Han synthesis incorporating the more moderate schools of political governance.

Major contributions of the Qin include the concept of a centralized government, and the unification and development of the legal code, the written language, measurement, and currency of China after the tribulations of the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods. Even something as basic as the length of axles for carts—which need to match ruts in the roads—had to be made uniform to ensure a viable trading system throughout the empire. Also as part of its centralization, the Qin connected the northern border walls of the states it defeated, making the first, though rough, version of the Great Wall of China.

The tribes of the north, collectively called the Wu Hu by the Qin, were free from Chinese rule during the majority of the dynasty. [36] Prohibited from trading with Qin dynasty peasants, the Xiongnu tribe living in the Ordos region in northwest China often raided them instead, prompting the Qin to retaliate. After a military campaign led by General Meng Tian, the region was conquered in 215 BC and agriculture was established the peasants, however, were discontented and later revolted. The succeeding Han dynasty also expanded into the Ordos due to overpopulation, but depleted their resources in the process. Indeed, this was true of the dynasty's borders in multiple directions modern Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet, Manchuria, and regions to the southeast were foreign to the Qin, and even areas over which they had military control were culturally distinct. [37]

After Emperor Qin Shi Huang's unnatural death due to the consumption of mercury pills, [38] the Qin government drastically deteriorated and eventually capitulated in 207 BC after the Qin capital was captured and sacked by rebels, which would ultimately lead to the establishment of a new dynasty of a unified China. [39] Despite the short 15-year duration of the Qin dynasty, it was immensely influential on China and the structure of future Chinese dynasties.

Han dynasty (206 BC – AD 220)

Western Han

The Han dynasty was founded by Liu Bang, who emerged victorious in the Chu–Han Contention that followed the fall of the Qin dynasty. A golden age in Chinese history, the Han dynasty's long period of stability and prosperity consolidated the foundation of China as a unified state under a central imperial bureaucracy, which was to last intermittently for most of the next two millennia. During the Han dynasty, territory of China was extended to most of the China proper and to areas far west. Confucianism was officially elevated to orthodox status and was to shape the subsequent Chinese civilization. Art, culture and science all advanced to unprecedented heights. With the profound and lasting impacts of this period of Chinese history, the dynasty name "Han" had been taken as the name of the Chinese people, now the dominant ethnic group in modern China, and had been commonly used to refer to Chinese language and written characters. The Han dynasty also saw many mathematical innovations being invented such as the method of Gaussian elimination which appeared in the Chinese mathematical text Chapter Eight Rectangular Arrays of The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art. Its use is illustrated in eighteen problems, with two to five equations. The first reference to the book by this title is dated to 179 AD, but parts of it were written as early as approximately 150 BC, more than 1500 years before a European came up with the method in the 18th century. [40]

After the initial laissez-faire policies of Emperors Wen and Jing, the ambitious Emperor Wu brought the empire to its zenith. To consolidate his power, Confucianism, which emphasizes stability and order in a well-structured society, was given exclusive patronage to be the guiding philosophical thoughts and moral principles of the empire. Imperial Universities were established to support its study and further development, while other schools of thought were discouraged.

Major military campaigns were launched to weaken the nomadic Xiongnu Empire, limiting their influence north of the Great Wall. Along with the diplomatic efforts led by Zhang Qian, the sphere of influence of the Han Empire extended to the states in the Tarim Basin, opened up the Silk Road that connected China to the west, stimulating bilateral trade and cultural exchange. To the south, various small kingdoms far beyond the Yangtze River Valley were formally incorporated into the empire.

Emperor Wu also dispatched a series of military campaigns against the Baiyue tribes. The Han annexed Minyue in 135 BC and 111 BC, Nanyue in 111 BC, and Dian in 109 BC. [41] Migration and military expeditions led to the cultural assimilation of the south. [42] It also brought the Han into contact with kingdoms in Southeast Asia, introducing diplomacy and trade. [43]

After Emperor Wu, the empire slipped into gradual stagnation and decline. Economically, the state treasury was strained by excessive campaigns and projects, while land acquisitions by elite families gradually drained the tax base. Various consort clans exerted increasing control over strings of incompetent emperors and eventually the dynasty was briefly interrupted by the usurpation of Wang Mang.

Xin dynasty

In AD 9, the usurper Wang Mang claimed that the Mandate of Heaven called for the end of the Han dynasty and the rise of his own, and he founded the short-lived Xin dynasty. Wang Mang started an extensive program of land and other economic reforms, including the outlawing of slavery and land nationalization and redistribution. These programs, however, were never supported by the landholding families, because they favored the peasants. The instability of power brought about chaos, uprisings, and loss of territories. This was compounded by mass flooding of the Yellow River silt buildup caused it to split into two channels and displaced large numbers of farmers. Wang Mang was eventually killed in Weiyang Palace by an enraged peasant mob in AD 23.

Eastern Han

Emperor Guangwu reinstated the Han dynasty with the support of landholding and merchant families at Luoyang, east of the former capital Xi'an. Thus, this new era is termed the Eastern Han dynasty. With the capable administrations of Emperors Ming and Zhang, former glories of the dynasty was reclaimed, with brilliant military and cultural achievements. The Xiongnu Empire was decisively defeated. The diplomat and general Ban Chao further expanded the conquests across the Pamirs to the shores of the Caspian Sea, [44] thus reopening the Silk Road, and bringing trade, foreign cultures, along with the arrival of Buddhism. With extensive connections with the west, the first of several Roman embassies to China were recorded in Chinese sources, coming from the sea route in AD 166, and a second one in AD 284.

The Eastern Han dynasty was one of the most prolific era of science and technology in ancient China, notably the historic invention of papermaking by Cai Lun, and the numerous scientific and mathematical contributions by the famous polymath Zhang Heng.

Three Kingdoms (AD 220 – 280)

By the 2nd century, the empire declined amidst land acquisitions, invasions, and feuding between consort clans and eunuchs. The Yellow Turban Rebellion broke out in AD 184, ushering in an era of warlords. In the ensuing turmoil, three states tried to gain predominance in the period of the Three Kingdoms, since greatly romanticized in works such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

After Cao Cao reunified the north in 208, his son proclaimed the Wei dynasty in 220. Soon, Wei's rivals Shu and Wu proclaimed their independence, leading China into the Three Kingdoms period. This period was characterized by a gradual decentralization of the state that had existed during the Qin and Han dynasties, and an increase in the power of great families.

In 266, the Jin dynasty overthrew the Wei and later unified the country in 280, but this union was short-lived.

Jin dynasty (AD 266 – 420)

The Jin dynasty was severely weakened by internecine fighting among imperial princes and lost control of northern China after non-Han Chinese settlers rebelled and captured Luoyang and Chang'an. In 317, a Jin prince in modern-day Nanjing became emperor and continued the dynasty, now known as the Eastern Jin, which held southern China for another century. Prior to this move, historians refer to the Jin dynasty as the Western Jin.

Northern China fragmented into a series of independent kingdoms, most of which were founded by Xiongnu, Xianbei, Jie, Di and Qiang rulers. These non-Han peoples were ancestors of the Turks, Mongols, and Tibetans. Many had, to some extent, been "sinicized" long before their ascent to power. In fact, some of them, notably the Qiang and the Xiongnu, had already been allowed to live in the frontier regions within the Great Wall since late Han times. During the period of the Sixteen Kingdoms, warfare ravaged the north and prompted large-scale Han Chinese migration south to the Yangtze River Basin and Delta.

Northern and Southern dynasties (AD 420 – 589)

In the early 5th century, China entered a period known as the Northern and Southern dynasties, in which parallel regimes ruled the northern and southern halves of the country. In the south, the Eastern Jin gave way to the Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang and finally Chen. Each of these Southern dynasties were led by Han Chinese ruling families and used Jiankang (modern Nanjing) as the capital. They held off attacks from the north and preserved many aspects of Chinese civilization, while northern barbarian regimes began to sinify.

In the north, the last of the Sixteen Kingdoms was extinguished in 439 by the Northern Wei, a kingdom founded by the Xianbei, a nomadic people who unified northern China. The Northern Wei eventually split into the Eastern and Western Wei, which then became the Northern Qi and Northern Zhou. These regimes were dominated by Xianbei or Han Chinese who had married into Xianbei families. During this period most Xianbei people adopted Han surnames, eventually leading to complete assimilation into the Han.

Despite the division of the country, Buddhism spread throughout the land. In southern China, fierce debates about whether Buddhism should be allowed were held frequently by the royal court and nobles. By the end of the era, Buddhists and Taoists had become much more tolerant of each other.

Sui dynasty (AD 581 – 618)

The short-lived Sui dynasty was a pivotal period in Chinese history. Founded by Emperor Wen in 581 in succession of the Northern Zhou, the Sui went on to conquer the Southern Chen in 589 to reunify China, ending three centuries of political division. The Sui pioneered many new institutions, including the government system of Three Departments and Six Ministries, imperial examinations for selecting officials from commoners, while improved on the systems of fubing system of the army conscription and the Equal-field system of land distributions. These policies, which were adopted by later dynasties, brought enormous population growth, and amassed excessive wealth to the state. Standardized coinage were enforced throughout the unified empire. Buddhism took root as a prominent religion and was supported officially. Sui China was known for its numerous mega-construction projects. Intended for grains shipment and transporting troops, the Grand Canal was constructed, linking the capitals Daxing (Chang'an) and Luoyang to the wealthy southeast region, and in another route, to the northeast border. The Great Wall was also expanded, while series of military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers further pacified its borders. However, the massive invasions of the Korean Peninsula during the Goguryeo–Sui War failed disastrously, triggering widespread revolts that led to the fall of the dynasty.

Tang dynasty (AD 618 – 907)

The Tang dynasty was a golden age of Chinese civilization, a prosperous, stable, and creative period with significant developments in culture, art, literature, particularly poetry, and technology. Buddhism became the predominant religion for the common people. Chang'an (modern Xi'an), the national capital, was the largest city in the world during its time. [45]

The first emperor, Emperor Gaozu, came to the throne on 18 June 618, placed there by his son, Li Shimin, who became the second emperor, Taizong, one of the greatest emperors in Chinese history. Combined military conquests and diplomatic maneuvers reduced threats from Central Asian tribes, extended the border, and brought neighboring states into a tributary system. Military victories in the Tarim Basin kept the Silk Road open, connecting Chang'an to Central Asia and areas far to the west. In the south, lucrative maritime trade routes from port cities such as Guangzhou connected with distant countries, and foreign merchants settled in China, encouraging a cosmopolitan culture. The Tang culture and social systems were observed and adapted by neighboring countries, most notably, Japan. Internally the Grand Canal linked the political heartland in Chang'an to the agricultural and economic centers in the eastern and southern parts of the empire. Xuanzang, a Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator who travelled to India on his own, and returned with, "over six hundred Mahayana and Hinayana texts, seven statues of the Buddha and more than a hundred sarira relics."

The prosperity of the early Tang dynasty was abetted by a centralized bureaucracy. The government was organized as "Three Departments and Six Ministries" to separately draft, review, and implement policies. These departments were run by royal family members and landed aristocrats, but as the dynasty wore on, were joined or replaced by scholar officials selected by imperial examinations, setting patterns for later dynasties.

Under the Tang "equal-field system" all land was owned by the Emperor and granted to each family according to household size. Men granted land were conscripted for military service for a fixed period each year, a military policy known as the "Fubing system". These policies stimulated a rapid growth in productivity and a significant army without much burden on the state treasury. By the dynasty's midpoint, however, standing armies had replaced conscription, and land was continuously falling into the hands of private owners and religious institutions granted exemptions.

The dynasty continued to flourish under the rule of Empress Wu Zetian, the only empress regnant in Chinese history, and reached its zenith during the long reign of Emperor Xuanzong, who oversaw an empire that stretched from the Pacific to the Aral Sea with at least 50 million people. There were vibrant artistic and cultural creations, including works of the greatest Chinese poets, Li Bai, and Du Fu.

At the zenith of prosperity of the empire, the An Lushan Rebellion from 755 to 763 was a watershed event. War, disease, and economic disruption devastated the population and drastically weakened the central imperial government. Upon suppression of the rebellion, regional military governors, known as Jiedushi, gained increasingly autonomous status. With loss of revenue from land tax, the central imperial government came to rely heavily on salt monopoly. Externally, former submissive states raided the empire and the vast border territories were lost for centuries. Nevertheless, civil society recovered and thrived amidst the weakened imperial bureaucracy.

In late Tang period, the empire was worn out by recurring revolts of regional warlords, while internally, as scholar-officials engaged in fierce factional strife, corrupted eunuchs amassed immense power. Catastrophically, the Huang Chao Rebellion, from 874 to 884, devastated the entire empire for a decade. The sack of the southern port Guangzhou in 879 was followed by the massacre of most of its inhabitants, especially the large foreign merchant enclaves. [48] [49] By 881, both capitals, Luoyang and Chang'an, fell successively. The reliance on ethnic Han and Turkic warlords in suppressing the rebellion increased their power and influence. Consequently, the fall of the dynasty following Zhu Wen's usurpation led to an era of division.

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907 – 960)

The period of political disunity between the Tang and the Song, known as the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period, lasted from 907 to 960. During this half-century, China was in all respects a multi-state system. Five regimes, namely, (Later) Liang, Tang, Jin, Han and Zhou, rapidly succeeded one another in control of the traditional Imperial heartland in northern China. Among the regimes, rulers of (Later) Tang, Jin and Han were sinicized Shatuo Turks, which ruled over the ethnic majority of Han Chinese. More stable and smaller regimes of mostly ethnic Han rulers coexisted in south and western China over the period, cumulatively constituted the "Ten Kingdoms".

Amidst political chaos in the north, the strategic Sixteen Prefectures (region along today's Great Wall) were ceded to the emerging Khitan Liao dynasty, which drastically weakened the defense of the China proper against northern nomadic empires. To the south, Vietnam gained lasting independence after being a Chinese prefecture for many centuries. With wars dominated in Northern China, there were mass southward migrations of population, which further enhanced the southward shift of cultural and economic centers in China. The era ended with the coup of Later Zhou general Zhao Kuangyin, and the establishment of the Song dynasty in 960, which eventually annihilated the remains of the "Ten Kingdoms" and reunified China.

Song, Liao, Jin, and Western Xia dynasties (AD 960 – 1279)

In 960, the Song dynasty was founded by Emperor Taizu, with its capital established in Kaifeng (also known as Bianjing). In 979, the Song dynasty reunified most of the China proper, while large swaths of the outer territories were occupied by sinicized nomadic empires. The Khitan Liao dynasty, which lasted from 907 to 1125, ruled over Manchuria, Mongolia, and parts of Northern China. Meanwhile, in what are now the north-western Chinese provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Ningxia, the Tangut tribes founded the Western Xia dynasty from 1032 to 1227.

Aiming to recover the strategic Sixteen Prefectures lost in the previous dynasty, campaigns were launched against the Liao dynasty in the early Song period, which all ended in failure. Then in 1004, the Liao cavalry swept over the exposed North China Plain and reached the outskirts of Kaifeng, forcing the Song's submission and then agreement to the Chanyuan Treaty, which imposed heavy annual tributes from the Song treasury. The treaty was a significant reversal of Chinese dominance of the traditional tributary system. Yet the annual outflow of Song's silver to the Liao was paid back through the purchase of Chinese goods and products, which expanded the Song economy, and replenished its treasury. This dampened the incentive for the Song to further campaign against the Liao. Meanwhile, this cross-border trade and contact induced further sinicization within the Liao Empire, at the expense of its military might which was derived from its primitive nomadic lifestyle. Similar treaties and social-economical consequences occurred in Song's relations with the Jin dynasty.

Within the Liao Empire, the Jurchen tribes revolted against their overlords to establish the Jin dynasty in 1115. In 1125, the devastating Jin cataphract annihilated the Liao dynasty, while remnants of Liao court members fled to Central Asia to found the Qara Khitai Empire (Western Liao dynasty). Jin's invasion of the Song dynasty followed swiftly. In 1127, Kaifeng was sacked, a massive catastrophe known as the Jingkang Incident, ending the Northern Song dynasty. Later the entire north of China was conquered. The survived members of Song court regrouped in the new capital city of Hangzhou, and initiated the Southern Song dynasty, which ruled territories south of the Huai River. In the ensuing years, the territory and population of China were divided between the Song dynasty, the Jin dynasty and the Western Xia dynasty. The era ended with the Mongol conquest, as Western Xia fell in 1227, the Jin dynasty in 1234, and finally the Southern Song dynasty in 1279.

Despite its military weakness, the Song dynasty is widely considered to be the high point of classical Chinese civilization. The Song economy, facilitated by technology advancement, had reached a level of sophistication probably unseen in world history before its time. The population soared to over 100 million and the living standards of common people improved tremendously due to improvements in rice cultivation and the wide availability of coal for production. The capital cities of Kaifeng and subsequently Hangzhou were both the most populous cities in the world for their time, and encouraged vibrant civil societies unmatched by previous Chinese dynasties. Although land trading routes to the far west were blocked by nomadic empires, there were extensive maritime trade with neighboring states, which facilitated the use of Song coinage as the de facto currency of exchange. Giant wooden vessels equipped with compasses traveled throughout the China Seas and northern Indian Ocean. The concept of insurance was practised by merchants to hedge the risks of such long-haul maritime shipments. With prosperous economic activities, the historically first use of paper currency emerged in the western city of Chengdu, as a supplement to the existing copper coins.

The Song dynasty was considered to be the golden age of great advancements in science and technology of China, thanks to innovative scholar-officials such as Su Song (1020–1101) and Shen Kuo (1031–1095). Inventions such as the hydro-mechanical astronomical clock, the first continuous and endless power-transmitting chain, woodblock printing and paper money were all invented during the Song dynasty.

There was court intrigue between the political reformers and conservatives, led by the chancellors Wang Anshi and Sima Guang, respectively. By the mid-to-late 13th century, the Chinese had adopted the dogma of Neo-Confucian philosophy formulated by Zhu Xi. Enormous literary works were compiled during the Song dynasty, such as the historical work, the Zizhi Tongjian ("Comprehensive Mirror to Aid in Government"). The invention of movable-type printing further facilitated the spread of knowledge. Culture and the arts flourished, with grandiose artworks such as Along the River During the Qingming Festival and Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute, along with great Buddhist painters such as the prolific Lin Tinggui.

The Song dynasty was also a period of major innovation in the history of warfare. Gunpowder, while invented in the Tang dynasty, was first put into use in battlefields by the Song army, inspiring a succession of new firearms and siege engines designs. During the Southern Song dynasty, as its survival hinged decisively on guarding the Yangtze and Huai River against the cavalry forces from the north, the first standing navy in China was assembled in 1132, with its admiral's headquarters established at Dinghai. Paddle-wheel warships equipped with trebuchets could launch incendiary bombs made of gunpowder and lime, as recorded in Song's victory over the invading Jin forces at the Battle of Tangdao in the East China Sea, and the Battle of Caishi on the Yangtze River in 1161.

The advances in civilization during the Song dynasty came to an abrupt end following the devastating Mongol conquest, during which the population sharply dwindled, with a marked contraction in economy. Despite viciously halting Mongol advance for more than three decades, the Southern Song capital Hangzhou fell in 1276, followed by the final annihilation of the Song standing navy at the Battle of Yamen in 1279.

Yuan dynasty (AD 1271 – 1368)

The Yuan dynasty was formally proclaimed in 1271, when the Great Khan of Mongol, Kublai Khan, one of the grandsons of Genghis Khan, assumed the additional title of Emperor of China, and considered his inherited part of the Mongol Empire as a Chinese dynasty. In the preceding decades, the Mongols had conquered the Jin dynasty in Northern China, and the Southern Song dynasty fell in 1279 after a protracted and bloody war. The Mongol Yuan dynasty became the first conquest dynasty in Chinese history to rule the entire China proper and its population as an ethnic minority. The dynasty also directly controlled the Mongolian heartland and other regions, inheriting the largest share of territory of the divided Mongol Empire, which roughly coincided with the modern area of China and nearby regions in East Asia. Further expansion of the empire was halted after defeats in the invasions of Japan and Vietnam. Following the previous Jin dynasty, the capital of Yuan dynasty was established at Khanbaliq (also known as Dadu, modern-day Beijing). The Grand Canal was reconstructed to connect the remote capital city to economic hubs in southern part of China, setting the precedence and foundation where Beijing would largely remain as the capital of the successive regimes that unified China mainland.

After the peace treaty in 1304 that ended a series of Mongol civil wars, the emperors of the Yuan dynasty were upheld as the nominal Great Khan (Khagan) of the greater Mongol Empire over other Mongol Khanates, which nonetheless remained de facto autonomous. The era was known as Pax Mongolica, when much of the Asian continent was ruled by the Mongols. For the first and only time in history, the silk road was controlled entirely by a single state, facilitating the flow of people, trade, and cultural exchange. Network of roads and a postal system were established to connect the vast empire. Lucrative maritime trade, developed from the previous Song dynasty, continued to flourish, with Quanzhou and Hangzhou emerging as the largest ports in the world. Adventurous travelers from the far west, most notably the Venetian, Marco Polo, would have settled in China for decades. Upon his return, his detail travel record inspired generations of medieval Europeans with the splendors of the far East. The Yuan dynasty was the first ancient economy, where paper currency, known at the time as Jiaochao, was used as the predominant medium of exchange. Its unrestricted issuance in the late Yuan dynasty inflicted hyperinflation, which eventually brought the downfall of the dynasty.

While the Mongol rulers of the Yuan dynasty adopted substantially to Chinese culture, their sinicization was of lesser extent compared to earlier conquest dynasties in Chinese history. For preserving racial superiority as the conqueror and ruling class, traditional nomadic customs and heritage from the Mongolian steppe were held in high regard. On the other hand, the Mongol rulers also adopted flexibly to a variety of cultures from many advanced civilizations within the vast empire. Traditional social structure and culture in China underwent immense transform during the Mongol dominance. Large group of foreign migrants settled in China, who enjoyed elevated social status over the majority Han Chinese, while enriching Chinese culture with foreign elements. The class of scholar officials and intellectuals, traditional bearers of elite Chinese culture, lost substantial social status. This stimulated the development of culture of the common folks. There were prolific works in zaju variety shows and literary songs (sanqu), which were written in a distinctive poetry style known as qu. Novels of vernacular style gained unprecedented status and popularity.

Before the Mongol invasion, Chinese dynasties reported approximately 120 million inhabitants after the conquest had been completed in 1279, the 1300 census reported roughly 60 million people. [50] This major decline is not necessarily due only to Mongol killings. Scholars such as Frederick W. Mote argue that the wide drop in numbers reflects an administrative failure to record rather than an actual decrease others such as Timothy Brook argue that the Mongols created a system of enserfment among a huge portion of the Chinese populace, causing many to disappear from the census altogether other historians including William McNeill and David Morgan consider that plague was the main factor behind the demographic decline during this period. In the 14th century China suffered additional depredations from epidemics of plague, estimated to have killed 25 million people, 30% of the population of China. [51]

Throughout the Yuan dynasty, there was some general sentiment among the populace against the Mongol dominance. Yet rather than the nationalist cause, it was mainly strings of natural disasters and incompetent governance that triggered widespread peasant uprisings since the 1340s. After the massive naval engagement at Lake Poyang, Zhu Yuanzhang prevailed over other rebel forces in the south. He proclaimed himself emperor and founded the Ming dynasty in 1368. The same year his northern expedition army captured the capital Khanbaliq. The Yuan remnants fled back to Mongolia and sustained the regime. Other Mongol Khanates in Central Asia continued to exist after the fall of Yuan dynasty in China.

Ming dynasty (AD 1368 – 1644)

The Ming dynasty was founded by Zhu Yuanzhang in 1368, who proclaimed himself as the Hongwu Emperor. The capital was initially set at Nanjing, and was later moved to Beijing from Yongle Emperor's reign onward.

Urbanization increased as the population grew and as the division of labor grew more complex. Large urban centers, such as Nanjing and Beijing, also contributed to the growth of private industry. In particular, small-scale industries grew up, often specializing in paper, silk, cotton, and porcelain goods. For the most part, however, relatively small urban centers with markets proliferated around the country. Town markets mainly traded food, with some necessary manufactures such as pins or oil.

Despite the xenophobia and intellectual introspection characteristic of the increasingly popular new school of neo-Confucianism, China under the early Ming dynasty was not isolated. Foreign trade and other contacts with the outside world, particularly Japan, increased considerably. Chinese merchants explored all of the Indian Ocean, reaching East Africa with the voyages of Zheng He.

The Hongwu Emperor, being the only founder of a Chinese dynasty who was also of peasant origin, had laid the foundation of a state that relied fundamentally in agriculture. Commerce and trade, which flourished in the previous Song and Yuan dynasties, were less emphasized. Neo-feudal landholdings of the Song and Mongol periods were expropriated by the Ming rulers. Land estates were confiscated by the government, fragmented, and rented out. Private slavery was forbidden. Consequently, after the death of the Yongle Emperor, independent peasant landholders predominated in Chinese agriculture. These laws might have paved the way to removing the worst of the poverty during the previous regimes. Towards later era of the Ming dynasty, with declining government control, commerce, trade and private industries revived.

The dynasty had a strong and complex central government that unified and controlled the empire. The emperor's role became more autocratic, although Hongwu Emperor necessarily continued to use what he called the "Grand Secretariat" to assist with the immense paperwork of the bureaucracy, including memorials (petitions and recommendations to the throne), imperial edicts in reply, reports of various kinds, and tax records. It was this same bureaucracy that later prevented the Ming government from being able to adapt to changes in society, and eventually led to its decline.

The Yongle Emperor strenuously tried to extend China's influence beyond its borders by demanding other rulers send ambassadors to China to present tribute. A large navy was built, including four-masted ships displacing 1,500 tons. A standing army of 1 million troops was created. The Chinese armies conquered and occupied Vietnam for around 20 years, while the Chinese fleet sailed the China seas and the Indian Ocean, cruising as far as the east coast of Africa. The Chinese gained influence in eastern Moghulistan. Several maritime Asian nations sent envoys with tribute for the Chinese emperor. Domestically, the Grand Canal was expanded and became a stimulus to domestic trade. Over 100,000 tons of iron per year were produced. Many books were printed using movable type. The imperial palace in Beijing's Forbidden City reached its current splendor. It was also during these centuries that the potential of south China came to be fully exploited. New crops were widely cultivated and industries such as those producing porcelain and textiles flourished.

In 1449 Esen Tayisi led an Oirat Mongol invasion of northern China which culminated in the capture of the Zhengtong Emperor at Tumu. Since then, the Ming became on the defensive on the northern frontier, which led to the Ming Great Wall being built. Most of what remains of the Great Wall of China today was either built or repaired by the Ming. The brick and granite work was enlarged, the watchtowers were redesigned, and cannons were placed along its length.


200 000 year old city found in Southern Africa may rewrite history

The great pyramid of Giza is thought to be one of the oldest structures in the world- it’s only 5000 years old. The most ancient structure on earth is reportedly the megalithic temples in Malta, carbon dated to 3500BCE. Right up until now these were known as the first advanced civilizations. Michael Tellinger and Johan Heine have discovered a sight in Mozambique’s Maputo that dates back 200,000 years.

The site is thought to be part of an ancient city that spans 10,000km’s. It has roads joining complex circular structures with agricultural areas which indicate that it belonged to a highly advanced civilization.

The sights and artifacts found in Mesopotamia and Egypt only date back 6000 years at the most. While the walls of the ancient Southern African city are made of Dolerite. By calculating the rate of Dolerite erosion, the structure itself has been dated to 200,000 odd years old. Although this date remains controversial.

The huge stone concentricly circled walls are best seen from the air. They are estimated to be 1500 square kilometers, although each wall is only 3,5meters high in places. The walls would have been far taller before the 200,000 years of weather erosion. The geology of the site is also interesting situated beside numerous gold mines, it has been suggested they were the first gold miners.

Tellinger has written about his finds extensively in his book: Temples of the African Gods

An Anka has been discovered on one of the walls to the ancient Southern African city. Are you wondering how on earth there could be a symbol of an Egyptian god thousands of years before the Egyptian civilization emerged?

Historians believed Egyptians were the first to worship the gods etched all over Egyptian temple walls. But it is more likely that the Egyptians inherited their beliefs from this Southern African culture.

Will we have to rewrite history? Does no one want to do it?

“The photographs, artifacts and evidence we accumulated, point towards a lost civilization that has never before been and precedes all others- not for a few hundred years, or a few thousand years … but many thousands of years,” Tellinger said.

Michelle Tellinger has reportedly received many phone calls from archeologists and scientists commending him on his work. Rather painfully he still hasn’t received formal acclaim or support for this discovery. Potentially it’s the collective hubris of theorists, wanting their theories of historical civilizations to remain valid.

Despite the Sumerian tablets of the kings list, which detail a list of kings spanning over a 224,000 time period 10 of which are kings documented to have existed before the biblical flood. “Archeologists don’t want to deal with, or acknowledge these time periods,” said Tellinger.

The ancient cities in Maputo not only validate but match the time periods documented by the Sumerians.

Unfortunately, theorists and historians still have no desire to let go of their previous postulations. For the record: The first advanced civilization existed in Southern Africa.
Africa is the cradle of mankind!


‘Amazing Dragon’ Discovery in China Reshapes History of Dinosaurs’ Evolution

A farmer in China stumbled upon some fossils more than a decade ago, which led to an excavation, which led to a realization: It’s time to rethink the evolutionary history of some of the biggest dinosaurs that ever walked the earth.

In a study published this week in the science journal Nature Communications, paleontologists said they had discovered the earliest diplodocoid yet, and the only one to be unearthed in East Asia.

Diplodocoids are part of the sauropod subgroup — the one known for those big plant-eaters with four legs and long necks. The fossils in China belonged to a previously undiscovered species, Lingwulong shenqi, and are about 174 million years old. That’s about 15 million years older than would be expected for a dinosaur of its type.

“This means that actually a large number of different sauropod groups must have evolved a lot earlier than previously realized,” said Philip Mannion, a paleontologist at Imperial College London and one of the study’s authors.

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It also means that diplodocoids made their way to East Asia before the continents — once a giant landmass called Pangea — tore away from each other.

The fossils of Lingwulong shenqi, or the “amazing dragon of Lingwu” in Mandarin, were uncovered near the city of Lingwu in northwestern China. It was a stunning find: At least seven dinosaurs had died near each other, giving scientists plenty of material to work with.

The study was led by Xu Xing of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a paleontologist known for his groundbreaking discoveries.

“Diplodocus-like neosauropods were thought to have never made it to East Asia because this region was cut off from the rest of the world by Jurassic seaways, so that China evolved its own distinctive and separate dinosaur fauna,” Dr. Xu said in a statement from University College London, which was involved in the study.

“However, Lingwulong shows that these Diplodocus-like sauropods were present after all, and implies that the isolation of East Asia was less profound” than paleontologists had realized.

Lingwulong shenqi was not as big as some of its sauropod cousins, like the Apatosaurus or Diplodocus. Its neck was shorter and it appears to have been between 35 and 55 feet long from head to tail.

Sauropods proliferated in the Late Jurassic epoch, but the discovery of Lingwulong shenqi in rocks from the Middle Jurassic suggests that sauropod species began to diverge much earlier than we thought. And that raises a new question: Did this “amazing dragon” have brothers, sisters and cousins, in Asia or elsewhere, that have never been seen?

“It’s so exciting because what that means is that we have a lot more to discover,” said Mathew Wedel, a paleontologist and sauropod expert who was not a part of the study. “All of that missing history is out there. It’s waiting to be found. We’ve just got to go find these Middle Jurassic rocks. We have to look harder.”

This week’s study follows another paper about an herbivorous, four-legged giant — the Ingentia prima, which also lived earlier than might be expected. And now Lingwulong shenqi has opened up another new line of inquiry and exploration.

“It suggests that we have major gaps,” Dr. Mannion said, adding that it will take many more discoveries before humans are able to fully trace the branches of the sauropods’ family tree.


Watch the video: Ελληνικό Αλφάβητο. Η ιστορία και η δύναμη ενός πνευματικού υπερόπλου - Αντώνιος Αντωνάκος (January 2022).