Unit 5: Ancient China

Pgs 122-149


Section 1: Geography of China’s River Valley


What is the Geographic Setting of Ancient China?

·        Rivers were important to the development of China

o       Landforms and climate also influenced the culture


What were the contrasting climate and landforms?

·        There were many differences in climate throughout China

·        Monsoons bring rains from the South China Sea towards the southern half of China

o       The rain does not reach the northern, cooler part of China

o       The climate there is very dry, people depended on Rivers


What is the “Middle Kingdom?”

·        Geographic barriers like mountains and seas cut China off from other lands

·        They had no knowledge of other cultures like Greece, Rome, India, or Egypt

·        They thought that they were at the center of the world and called themselves the “Middle Kingdom”


Why are rivers the birthplace of Civilizations?

·        Early civilizations developed near rivers

·        China had a few rivers that provided resources to be successful

o       Chang Jiang River (longest river)

o       Huang He River

o       Yangzi River

·        China’s rivers overflowed just like others we have studied

o       Provides fertile soil for farming

·        The Huang He River is also known as the Yellow River because of the Loess

o       Loess is yellow-brown soil that the Yellow River carries along


What is “China’s Sorrow?”

o       The river was unpredictable and dangerous and often killed

o       The river also brought life through fertile soil

o       Destructive floods would come without warning

o       To control the flooding the people built dikes or walls that hold back water




How did the people sow the seeds of civilization?

÷    Before faming some 5000 B.C., the people were nomads and migrated

÷    The Shang Dynasty was the first known civilization in China

§        They are infamous for their bronze work

§        They also produced the first Chinese writing


What are the bonds of family?

÷    The family was considered more important than the nation

÷    Family was the chief source of well being


What did traditional families of Ancient China look like?

¨     As many as five generations lived together in homes

¨     This included aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, cousins, and siblings (extended family)

¨     If they did not live in the same home, they lived very close

¨     Status depended on age and sex with the oldest man in a position of authority

o       He decided many things for the family

§        Marriage

§        He was the punisher

§        His land was divided amongst his sons when he died

¨     Women were usually governed by the men

o       They obeyed their fathers in youth

o       Their husbands

o       Their sons in old age


How did they develop Family Names?

o       Chinese were the first people to use two names to pass the name from father and son

o       In China the family name comes first

o       This shows how important the family is to China

o       Later, Confucius added new meaning to the importance of family


Section 2: Confucius and His Teaching


What was the life of Confucius like?

÷    Was known as a great teacher

÷    Called Kong Fu Zi (Master Kong)

÷    Stories about Confucius spread throughout China

o       Born in 551 B.C. to a noble but poor family

o       Father passed when he was three

o       Became a teacher

§        Some of his students went on to hold important government jobs

§        He did not only teach rich students, but motivated ones

÷    He died in 479 B.C. at the age of 72

÷    He thought he taught and lived for no reason, but he influenced the nation!


How did the Teachings of Confucius influence Ancient China?

÷    Confucius did not claim originality, but he thought of himself as a person to pass on important teachings from wise people in hopes of influencing rulers to reform

÷    He wanted peace, stability, and prosperity for the kingdoms

÷    He never wrote down anything, instead his students gathered a collection of sayings after his death

÷    This Philosophy, or system of beliefs and values became known as Confucianism

o       It guided many aspects of life for years to come

÷    Confucius lived during a time of war between kingdoms trying to expand

o       He wanted these rulers to focus on their kingdoms instead of power

o       He wanted peace for all of China

÷    His goal was to bring order to society

o       If people learned how to behave properly, peace would follow

o       Society would then prosper

o       People should know their place in their family as well as in society

o       Respect people above and below them

o       People in authority must set and example for others

o       Always follow the “Golden Rule”


What was the impact of Confucius?

÷    His teachings helped to change the Chinese government

÷    They were part of training for the members of the civil service (government workers)

÷    These jobs were given to rich people, after his teachings, anyone could hold these positions based on his merit

÷    There were official examinations and in order to advance more education and tests needed to take place

÷    Reading became an important skill to advance



Section 3: Strong Rulers Unite Warring Kingdoms


What does one China and one ruler mean?

o       They were each unique statues which guarded the tomb

o       No two statues were alike


What was the Qin Dynasty?


How did they strengthen the empire?


What was the Great Wall?


How did they organize the government?

Ø     In order to keep peace and eliminate any rebellions, Shi Huangdi had his people build roads which allowed armies to move quickly and stop any uprising

Ø     He organized China into districts that enabled him to control  a large amount of space

Ø     Each district was in control by a trusted emperor’s official


How did they unify the Culture?


Ø     Shi Huangdi was not happy with just unifying the government of China

Ø     He wanted a unified economy and culture

Ø     He started this with a uniform currency, or money that can be used to trade throughout China, He also created common weights and measurements which allowed better communication , improved writing, and laws

Ø     Unfortunately Huangdi also tried to control what people thought about by banning thinkers like Confucius and other thinkers

o       This was accomplished by burning books, and keeping only books of medicine, technology, and farming

o       Anyone who protested these ideas were killed

Ø     After his death rebellions broke out and only lasted for 15 years


What was the Han Dynasty?

v    Liu Bang was a ruler who helped overthrow the Qin Dynasty, by 202 B.C. he became the new emperor of China

v    Liu Bang was the emperor of the Han dynasty, as well as the first emperor who was actually born a peasant

v    He created a less harsh and stable government for the people

v    The stable government was a feature of the Han dynasty which lasted for 400 years

v    The Han Dynasty leaders realized the importance of educating its people and have them work in the governments

v    They set up a civil service system based upon Confucianism


Who was Wudi: The Warrior Emperor?

8    The Han Dynasty reached its peak under Wudi who ruled in 140 B.C. and was actually Liu Bang’s great-grandson

8    He became the emperor at 14 and ruled for 50 years

8    Wudi focused on strengthening the army and fortifying the Great Wall, he also expanding the China Empire to include Central Asia


How did the Han Empire End?


8    Wudi died in 87 B.C. and the dynasty slowly fell apart

8    It took two centuries for all of the work like roads and canals to fall into disrepair

8    Warlords, or leaders of armed bands of gangs gained power

8    China then broke up into several smaller kingdoms with boundaries




Section 4: Achievements of Ancient China


What was the Silk Road: How did China meet the West?

8    The conquests of Wudi brought China into contact with many people of Central Asia

8    Trade with these people included new goods like grapes, walnuts, and garlic while China traded their goods.  This opened up a major new trade route called the Silk Road

8    The Silk Road ran from China all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.  It was  a series of routes covering over 4,00 miles (like traveling from China to Hawaii!)

8    The travel was very dangerous because of the violent weather (sandstorms, etc.) as well as thieves and gangs.

8    Using this route the people of China were able to trade with Mesopotamia, Rome, Greece, Egypt , and all of the other lands reaching the Mediterranean Sea


Why was it a Route for Goods?

v    There were not many people who traveled the entire Silk Road, they normally traded with people along the way from trader to trader

v    With each new trader the goods increased in price

v    The name of the Silk Road comes from the cloth “silk” which was first made in China and sought after by very rich people who would trade horses, ivory, linens, etc. for some silk clothes

v    The Chinese people kept the process of making silk a secret, and cornered the market


Why was it also a route for ideas?

v    Because more goods were traded by more merchants, ideas spread as well

v    Missionaries spread from India to China and brought the religion of Buddhism to the Ancient Empire

v    While religion spread, so did many inventions and ideas about government, economy, and morality


What were the Old traditions, and New Accomplishments?





What happened with Language and Literature?


How were there advances in technology?


Why was paper so important?


What were some other practical inventions?

o       The wheelbarrow, the fishing reel, the rudder (for steering boats), and the collar and harness for beasts of burden