|Early Chinese settlers build small villages and farm along the major rivers including the Yellow River and the Yangtze River.|
~ 2696 BC: Rule of the legendary Yellow Emperor. His wife Leizu invented the process of making silk cloth.
2205 – 1575 BC: The Chinese learn how to make bronze.
|The Xia Dynasty becomes the first dynasty in China.|
|Capitals: near Zhengzhou & Anyang|
One of the Three Dynasties, or San Dai (Xia, Shang, and Zhou), thought to mark the beginning of Chinese civilization: characterized by its writing system, practice of divination, walled cities, bronze technology, and use of horse-drawn chariots.
|Capitals: Hao (near Xi’an) & Luoyang|
A hierarchical political and social system with the Zhou royal house at its apex: power was bestowed upon aristocratic families as lords of their domains or principalities.
|Spring and Autumn Period|
|Confucius (551-479 BC)|
544 BC: Sun Tzu the author of the Art of War is born.
Cast iron is invented in China around this time. The iron plough was likely invented shortly after.
|Warring States Period|
The crossbow is first used in China.
|Capital: Chang’an, (Xi’an)|
Qin Shihuangdi becomes the first Emperor of China. He created a unitary state by imposing a centralized administration and by standardizing the writing script, weights and measures. Known for its harsh methods of rule, including the suppression of dissenting thought.
Qin Shihuangdi has the Great Wall of China built by extending and connecting existing walls to protect the people from the Mongols.
The umbrella is invented.
Qin Shihuangdi dies, 210 BC, the Terra Cotta Army is buried with him.
|Modified and consolidated the foundation of the imperial order. Confucianism was established as orthodoxy and open civil service examinations were introduced. Han power reached Korea and Vietnam.|
Emperor Wu defines the Taichu calendar which will remain the Chinese calendar throughout history.
8 – 22 AD: The Xin Dynasty overthrows the Han Dynasty for a short period of time.
2 AD: A government census is taken. The size of the Chinese Empire is estimated at 60 million people.
105 AD: Paper is invented by Imperial court official Cai Lun.
208: Battle of Red Cliffs.
(206 BC-9 AD)
Confucianism officially established as basis for Chinese state by Han Wudi (r. 141-86 BC)
|The empire was fragmented. The North was dominated by invaders from the borderland and the steppes. The South was ruled by successive “Chinese” dynasties.|
Buddhism is introduced to China
|Cao Wei (220-265)|
Shu Han (221-263)
Dong Wu (222-280)
|Western Jin (265-316)|
Eastern Jin (317-420)
|Northern Wei (i386-534)|
Eastern Wei (534-550)
Northern Qi (550-577)
Western Wei (535-556)
Northern Zhou (557-581)
609: The 1,776 km Grand Canal is completed – the longest canal in the world starting at Beijing, passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou, linking the Yellow River and Yangtze River.
China is reunified
|Capitals: Chang’an & Luoyang|
A time of cosmopolitanism and &
cultural flowering. This period was the height of Buddhist influence until its repression around 845.
868: Wood block printing is first used in China to print an entire book called the Diamond Sutra.
Active territorial expansion until defeated by the Arabs at Talas in 751.
|Later Liang (907-923)|
Later Tang (923-936)
Later Jin (936-946)
Later Han (947-950)
Later Zhou (951-960)
|An era of significant economic and social changes: the monetization of the economy; growth in commerce and maritime trade; urban expansion and technological innovations.|
Moveable type for printing is invented.
1044: This is the earliest date that a formula for gunpowder is recorded.
1088: The first description of the magnetic compass.
1200: Genghis Khan unites the Mongol tribes under his leadership.
1271: Marco Polo begins his travels to China.
|Capital: Bianjing (Kaifeng)|
|Capital: Lin’an (Hangzhou)|
|The Mongols under Kublai Khan defeat the Song Dynasty. Kublai Khan establishes the Yuan Dynasty.|
The reign of the Mongol empire;
Capital: Dadu (Beijing)
Dramas, such as the Story of the Western Wing, flourished.
|Re-establishment of rule by Han ruling house; |
Capitals: Nanjing & Beijing
The first Ming emperor, Hongwu, laid the basis of an authoritarian political culture. Despite early expansion, it was an inward-looking state with an emphasis on its