Imperial Chinese history begins in the 3rd century B.C.E. with Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of China and ends with the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

Zhou dynasty (c. 1046 B.C.E.-256 B.C.E.)

Northern Qi dynasty (550 - 577)

The Northern Qi dynasty existed during a period of instability known as the "Southern and Northern dynasties" and was one of several dynasties that ruled different regions of China simultaneously. The Northern Qi dynasty lasted from 550 until 577.

Tang dynasty (618-907)

The Tang dynasty was long and prosperous and is known as China's golden age. It was a period when China was powerful and engaged in long distance trade across networks that reached western Asia and Europe. This was also a period of improved education, a strong civil bureaucracy, and some of the most revered poetry, painting and ceramics ever made. The Tang dynasty existed from 618 until 907.

Song dynasty (960-1279)

The Song dynasty which is divided between the Northern Song and the later Southern Song when land north of the Yangtze River was lost to the Jin Dynasty. The Song Dynasty witnessed important historical developments such as the first use of gunpowder, paper currency, and the identification of true north. This was also a period that saw creative production at the highest level including monumental landscape painting. The Song dynasty existed from 960 until 1279.

Ming dynasty (1368–1644)