Pre-Qin Period in History of China

Oracle bones pit at Yin

With a period of over 1,800 years, the Pre-Qin Period (2,100 B.C.-221 B.C.) refers to the time before the Qin dynasty (221-206CE) in Chinese history, and it goes through 3 distinct ancient stages; namely, the Shang dynasty (1600 B.C.-1046 B.C.), the Xia Kingdom (2070 B.C.-1600 B.C.), the Zhou dynasty (1046 B.C.- 221 B.C.). The ancient Chinese tribes created glorious civilization with their hard work and intelligence during this period, including the engraving on oracle bones from the Xia-Shang dynasties and the bronze wares from the Shang-Zhou houses, and these artistic relics become the traditional symbols of the ancient Chinese civilization.

The earliest ancestral dynasty in Chinese history, the Xia dynasty, was founded by Qi (son of Yu) in 2070 B.C, and the Site of Erlitou in Luoyang is deemed to be its first capital according to the latest archeological findings when the oldest calendar (Xia Xiao Zheng) in Chinese history emerged.

The story goes that the last emperor of the Xia dynasty, Jie, was defeated by Tang (the firm founder of the Shang dynasty) owing to his harsh rule, and Tang was chosen as the ruler of a new kingdom- the Shang dynasty, when the civilization was more wealthy than that in the Xia dynasty with the bronze wares, the embryonic porcelains and the engravings on oracle bones emerging. Although agriculture worked as the leading industry, notable progress had been made in the Shang dynasty’s embroidery industry, especially in the field of smelting technology and bronze casting. The last ruler of the Shang dynasty, Zhou, levied excessive taxes on the working people and took no state affairs warning. Meanwhile, another family led by Vassal Ji Chang rose steadily in the upper reaches of the Yellow River. Ji Fa (Vassal Ji Chang’s son) rose in resistance first and won the definitive victory over the Shang ruler in the battle of Muye, ending the Shang dynasty and the rise of the Zhou. Emperor Wu (or Ji Fa) set up the Zhou dynasty with present Xi’an of Shaanxi Province (Haojing) as capital, whose region was considerably expanded later, stretching from the Liaoning Province in the north to the Yangtze River in the south and from Shandong Region in the east to Gansu State in the west.

The governmental organizations and patriarch system were formed in the Zhou dynasty.

The Zhou dynasty comprises the Western Zhou dynasty and the Eastern Zhou dynasty, of which the latter is divided into the AUtumn & Spring Period (770 B.C.-476 B.C) and the Warring State Era (475 B.C.-221 B.C.). Emperor Zhoupingwang changed the capital from Haojing to Luoyi (present Luoyang) due to the northern tribe’s invasion in 770. B.C., since then, the Zhou dynasty began to decline, and the wheel of history sadly rolled on to the Eastern Zhou family (770 B.C.-256 B.C.).

The fall of the Zhou dynasty quickly led to the rising of 100 small States, among which the hostilities broke out frequently, and seven States stood out of the faction during the war, namely, Chu State, Qi State, Han State, Yan State, Wei State, Zhao State, and Qin State. Shang Yang was elected as the Chancellor to carry out reforms in the Qin State in 356 B.C., making Qin State the most powerful state then, and Ying Zheng (ruler of Qin state) conquered the other six states one after another and built the first centralized feudal country in China- the Qin dynasty, who was known globally as Emperor Qinshihuang.

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