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Geography of the Middle Kingdom
The ancient Chinese called their land Zhongguo
-isolated from the rest of the civilized world
-long distances and physical barriers separated it from Egypt, India, and the Middle
-believed they were the center of the Earth (ethnocentric)
Geographic Barriers
-Tien mountains and the Himalayas
-brutal deserts, and thick jungles
-had contact with nomadic people, yet lacked the skills and achievements of settled
Major Rivers
-Yellow river
"River of Sorrows" (Huang He valley) river floods causing mass destruction
China under Shang
About 1650 B.C. Chinese people called the Shang gained control of Northern China
-During this time Chinese civilization took shape
-National defense was important to keep out nomadic invaders
-Princes and nobles ruled most of Shang's land
-In charge of clans (groups of people who claim a common ancestor)
Social Classes
-Same social system of earlier civilizations
Peasant Life
-Represented the majority of people
-Led grueling lives, all family members worked in the fields
Zhou Dynasty
1027 B.C. The Zhou overthrew the Shang
Mandate of Heaven- divine right to rule
-used this to justify overthrowing the Shang
Dynastic Cycle- the rise and fall of dynasties
-As long as a dynasty provided good government, it enjoyed the mandate of Heaven
-But if the rulers were weak and corrupt, the Chinese believe they could be overthrown
-Floods, famine, or other catastrophes were signs a dynasty lost favor with the gods
Feudal State
Feudalism- system of government in which local lords governed their own lands but
owed military service and other support to their ruler
Economic Growth
During the Zhou period, the economy grew
-knowledge of ironworking reached China in 500 B.C.
-farming became more productive as a result of making advances in farm equipment
-Chinese began to use money, made trade easier
-New roads, and canals were produced as well
Chinese Achievements
Silkmaking- by 1000 B.C. the Chinese discovered how to make silk thread from cocoons
of silkworms
-only Nobles and royalty could afford the silks
-Silk became China's most valuable export
The First Books
-Chinese made the first books
-included histories and religious works
Book of Songs- poems that describes the lives of farming people, also included love
Chapter 4 section 2 (Gupta empire)
Division and Unity
India was seldom united
-foreign invaders pushed through mountain passes into Northern India
-Came to plunder rich Indian cities
-Despite frequent invasions, India became the center of world trade by 100 B.C.
-Indian textiles, gems, incense, and spices were widely in demand
Kingdoms of the Deccan
Most goods shipped to Rome came from the Deccan
-Divided into many kingdoms
-Women enjoyed high status
-Most people were Dravidians
Golden Age of the Guptas
Most powerful Indian states rose in the North
-about 500 years after the Mauryas, the Guptas came into power
-Under the Guptas, Indians enjoyed a Golden Age
-Most power was left to individual villages and city governments
Strong Rulers Unite China
Triumph of the First Emperor
Shi Huangdi (first emperor of China)
-Goal was to unite China
-Abolished the feudal states, and divided China into 36 military districts
-ruled by appointed officials
-inspectors sent by Shi Huangdi kept an eye on officials
Divided noble family’s land among peasants
Promoting Unity
-standardized weights and measurements
-Chinese writing
-Repaired roads and canals
Harsh laws
Shi Huangdi was harsh on his critics
-Jailed or tortured those who opposed his rule
-Especially hated noble lords, and Confucian scholars
-Book burning (ordered all philosophy books burned)
The Great Wall
Shi Huangdi's greatest achievement was the great wall
-Suppose to protect them from invaders, but failed
-Built by peasants, and even criminals
-Many workers died due to harsh conditions
-Became an important symbol of Chinese power
Collapse of the Qin
Shi Huangdi died in 210 B.C.
People were angry over:
-Forced labor
-Cruel laws (led to revolts)
An illiterate peasant leader named Liu Bang, took over the Qin
-claimed the mandate of Heaven
-Started the Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty
Emperor Liu Bang took the title Gao Zu
-goal was to set order and justice to his empire
-lowered taxes
-appointed Confucian scholars as advisors
Strengthening the Government
Most famous Han emperor of the Han Dynasty was Wudi
-Chose Confucian Officials (like Liu Bang)
-Imposed a government monopoly on iron and salt
Wudi earned the name "The Warrior Emperor"
-Endless campaigns to secure and expand China's borders
The Silk Road
-Linked China and the West for centuries
-New food such as grapes, figs, cucumbers, and walnuts
-Bandits and outlaws would rob goods along the silk road
-grew to be 4,000 miles long, linking China to the Fertile Crescent
Han Society
-made Confucianism the official belief system of the empire
-relied on well-educated scholars run the bureaucracy
Civil service Examinations
-Han officials adopted the idea that officials should win positions based upon merit, not
family background.
-To find the most qualified officials, they set up system of examinations
-Any man could take the test, usually only wealthy people took the test
-Women could not take exam
Han achievements
-Han scientists wrote texts on chemistry, zoology, botany, and other subjects
-astronomers measured movements of the planets and stars
-improved calendars, and timekeeping devices
For its time, the Han dynasty was the most advanced civilization
-fishing reels
-suspension bridges
Collapse of the Han Dynasty
Weak rulers let canals and roads fall into disrepair
-Peasants revolted due to high taxes
-Invaders poured into China through the Great Wall
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