Our summary of the Chinese history starts at the Neolithic period from around 10,000 to 2,000 BC with references to the Banpo Village dating 6,000 BC, our first visited site when we arrived in Xian.
Banpo was the first large-scale archaeological operation of China and is one of the most significant Neolithic sites in the world. It contains the remains of several well organized Neolithic settlements in the Yellow River Valley, considered the cradle of the Chinese civilisation.
The Shang dynasty (1600-1050 BC) marked the beginning of Chinese civilization characterized by its writing system, the walled cities, bronze technology, and use of horse-drawn chariots. The earliest written records of Chinese history are dated from this period.
The Zhou dynasty (1046 – 256 BC), the iron age of China, was the longest in Chinese history. During this period China was plagued by wars between States, in particular, the period known by the Warring States (476-221 BC). Confucius lived in this era (551-479 BC). They started building walls to protect the various kingdoms against invaders.
In 221 BC the Qin (pronounced Chin) dynasty united China and standardised the writing, weights, and measures. During the Qin dynasty, they started linking all the fortifications. It was the beginning of the Great Wall as we know it today. The last emperor Qin Shi Huang included the Terracotta Army in his mausoleum.
The next dynasty was the Han which consolidated the control from Korea to Vietnam. It is during this dynasty that papermaking technology was first developed.
From 220 to 589 of the present era, China once more lived through a period of disunity breaking into various states ruled by successive dynasties.
In 581 the Sui dynasty reunified the country again and from 618 and 906 under the Tang dynasty, the country prospered. In this period China was under the influence of Buddhism until it was repressed in 845.
Under the Song dynasty (960 -1227) the monetization of the economy was instituted.
In 1206 Genghis Khan united the Mongols and started expanding their Empire. In 1234 they had conquered most of the Northern China.
In 1271 Kublai Khan, grand-son of Genghis Khan, founded the Yuan dynasty, the biggest empire in the history of China, as part of their conquest of much of the known world. They ruled until 1368 and Beijing were made the capital of China.
To house his troops, Kublai Khan built the Hutongs, where our friends Karin and Wei live and we stayed during our holidays.
During this period and under Kublai Khan, China increased they trading with the western countries and received the visit of the well known Marco Polo. Marco Polo lived in Kublai Khan court for more than 20 years and on his return describes the wonders of China. There are many historians that regard Marco`s memories as exaggerated or even false and there are no records in Chinese documents of his presence in Kublai Khan's court.
After the collapse of the Yuan dynasty in 1368, the Ming dynasty ruled until 1644. During the Ming dynasty, the Forbidden City was built and overseas trading banned with exception of the Portuguese. The Portuguese were allowed to settle in Macau in 1557 for trade, especially with Japan.
The Manchu invaded China in 1636 and established the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) known by the westerners as the Machu dynasty. The Opium wars and the Boxers Rebellion took place in this dynasty.
In 1912 the Republic period started and ended in 1949 when the Nationalist government headed by Chiang Kai-shek fled to Taiwan. The Red Army Long March (1934) took place under a new leader, Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung).
In 1949 the People’s Republic of China instituted a communist regimen in China with well know disasters such as the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward.