Spanning a period of over four thousand years, China is considered to be the world’s oldest continuous civilization. The earliest Chinese dynasties were known only from myth and legend until recent archaeological discoveries have revealed evidence of a highly accomplished civilization that existed as early as 1700 BC.
This program highlights the first four Chinese dynasties, beginning with the Han Dynasty, founded in 206 BC, and continuing back in time through the Qin, Zhou and earliest Shang Dynasties. The roots of the civilization that gave the world paper and printing and built the Great Wall are still being unearthed by archaeologists working in China today.
c.1700 BC c.1050 BC: Shang Dynasty (writing, silk, bronze developed)
c.1050 BC 221 BC: Zhou Dynasty (Confucius born 551 BC)
221BC206BC: Qin Dynasty (China unified; Great Wall is begun)
206 BC AD 220: Han Dynasty (Silk Road flourishes)
civilization A society that has achieved a high level of culture in
government, religion, education, technology, art and science.
archaeologist A scientist who studies past cultures by analyzing their remains.
dynasty A line of rulers who passed authority down through generations.
emperor The supreme ruler of an empire.
Terra cotta A baked clay material used for statues, pots and buildings.
Mongols A nomadic people from Mongolia, a country north of China.
Confucius A Chinese philosopher and scholar born in 551 BC who taught respect for others and the importance of good citizenship.
calligraphy The art of handwriting.
bronze A metal made of copper and tin.
silk A rich fabric woven from the cocoons of silkworms.
porcelain A hard, white ceramic ware commonly known as china.
jade A green, semi-precious stone crafted in jewelry and objects of art.
lacquer A hard, shiny coating on furniture and fine objects.
scholar A highly educated person.
merchant One who makes a living by buying and selling goods.
peasant A poor farmer or worker.
acupuncture Method of treating pain or illness by inserting small needles into the body.
Suggested Internet Resources:
• members.aol.com/Donnclass/Chinalife.html Mrs. Donn’s special web pages offer information for students and teachers about the daily lives of people in ancient China. Includes links to lesson plans for teachers.
• sln.fi.edu/tfi/info/current/china.html The Franklin Institute offers students “China: Ancient Arts and Sciences,” based on an exhibit detailing important contributions from ancient China.
• www.newton.mec.edu/Angier/DimSum/ Silk%20Rd.%20Maps.html The Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin has several maps of the Silk Road.