If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:7:44

Video transcript

I'm doing this videos give us an overview of the first significant dynasties in ancient and Imperial China now in a previous video we talked about the Shia dynasty which were not sure whether it exists because we don't have a lot of historical documentation but based on legend it apparently emerged around 2100 2200 BCE so we're talking about over 4000 years ago and lasted until the emergence of the Shang Dynasty in 1600 BCE now the Shang Dynasty you could view the first real historical dynasty because we have artifacts we have archaeological evidence we even have writing the famous oracle bones of the shang dynasty that were used to make decisions to prognosticate about the future and what's interesting about this writing on these oracle bones that are over 3,000 years old is that modern Chinese script has actually evolved from this over 3,000 year old writing also in that Shang Dynasty we see major bronze artifacts and it's once again it's the first real historical evidence we see of a of a reasonably large geographic area being unified around the yellow and the Yangtze River now in that video on the shang dynasty we talk about how it eventually falls in 1046 BCE and it falls to the jo dynasty and the jo dynasty they defeat the last Shang Emperor dicen at the Battle of mu Yi in 1046 and based on their view of things or current historical accounts Deason became a corrupt ruler he was under the influence of his consort and the Jo's say hey the reason why we were able to defeat them and overthrow them and establish a new dynasty it's because of the Mandate of Heaven the Mandate of Heaven is this idea that will be incorporated by the Jo dynasty and then becomes part of Chinese culture and tradition for thousands of years after that heaven in this sense is not a place in the clouds some might imagine in a Western tradition it's really you could view it as a guiding force of the universe and it's this idea that if leaders become incapable they become correct that this guiding force of the universe will throw them out and put more capable leaders in power and so King Lou of Jo who defeats D sin at the Battle of mu yi he invokes this Mandate of Heaven and will continue to be invoked throughout the Jo dynasty now the Jo dynasty is going to be a very long lasting dynasty but it is not centralized it can be described as kind of a feudal system there's multiple kingdoms who have allegiance to the Jo's and at multiple times they have different degrees of autonomy enough power now the Jo dynasty is generally divided into the Western Jo when the Capitals in the West and the eastern Jo dynasty when the capital moves to the east now the eastern Jo dynasty this period right over here between 770 BCE and 476 BCE often known as the spring and autumn period this is often referred to as a significant period of a philosophical a philosophical Golden Age in China it was the time of Confucius it was the time of Lao Tzu who comes up with the Tao or the core of the bowel philosophy so a lot of major philosophical underpinnings of even modern China start to emerge in this time now at the latter half of the eastern jo period you have the warring States Period and that's where you see these dotted lines and the Jo dynasty which was already very decentralized becomes even more fragmented and China really doesn't get well unified again until 221 BCE in 221 BCE you have the emergence of the Qin Dynasty and even though the Qin Dynasty is very short-lived it only lasts a few decades it's significant and that it's the first really strong central dynasty it's often referred to as the first imperial dynasty as we mentioned about the Jo's very distant decentralized this feudal system but the Qin Dynasty under chin she long D or sometimes chin she long he is a very strong ruler he sets up this legalistic government is very strict legal code he really oppressed his opponents in significant ways but the byproduct of that is he was able to really unify China now other things that he did the Great Wall of China which didn't just get built by him but there were already walls that were that were being erected throughout China at this time he started to unify these walls and then break down the walls that were within his empire and so he's often created is really starting the formation of the what we now call the Great Wall of China which was kept being built and and improved upon by later generations later dynasties the other thing that he is well known for is establishing this centralized bureaucracy that has that where the civil servants are able to earn their spots based on taking exams this would last for several thousand years in China now as I mentioned the Qin Dynasty would be short-lived but then it would be followed by one of the most significant dynasties in Chinese history that really takes the work of the Qin but makes it a little bit more moderate and the Han Dynasty is is often referred to by Chinese historians as the Golden Age of China it's a time where Confucian philosophy really becomes dominant you have significant advances in math science and technology this is an image of the nine chapters on the mathematical art where ideas like Gaussian elimination and Kramer's rule things that wouldn't be explored in Europe for over a thousand years are documented during Han China you have the famous papermaking emerge during Han China and as you can see it lasts for over 400 years there's a brief period right over here where you have the where you have the syn dynasty gets established but and that separates the Western Han from the eastern Han but this is a significant period of development of Chinese philosophy Chinese writing Chinese technology that lasts even until today and to get an appreciation of the Confucius Confucian philosophy remember Confucian lived over several hundred years before the Han Dynasty but this is when it really becomes the philosophy or even you could think of the religion of China I'll leave you with a few quote from Confucius and I'll do a whole video on him later on but these are some of my favorite real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorant and this is a version of the Golden Rule do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire and to put into context these ideas of Confucius the writing the the mathematics that was developed there it was the civil service these continued on for several thousand years and this was during the time interesting about what else was going on the world this was at the time of the Roman Empire and so it is interesting that at the time of the chin and then Han dynasties where you first have this real centralized Empire that was right around the time that Rome itself was also becoming centralized and it's interesting to think about what was it about that period of history where you have these two significant empires starting to really emerge and they weren't completely isolated there was actually interaction between the two
AP® is a registered trademark of the College Board, which has not reviewed this resource.