Humanities › History & Culture Accomplishments of the Ancient Chinese Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Asia Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated September 06, 2019 Learn about ancient Chinese accomplishments and technological progress made beginning in the Neolithic Period. This covers Ancient China from roughly 12,000 BCE through the 6th century CE. 01 of 09 Neolithic Neolithic Period Jade Figurine. LMarianne/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0 The Neolithic (neo='new' lithic='stone') Period of Ancient China lasted from about 12,000 until about 2000 BCE. Named Neolithic cultures (known by pottery style): Yang-ShaoLongshanQinglianDapenkeng Kings: Fu Xi (r. from 2850) may have been the first kingShennong (the farmer king)Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor (r. 2696-2598)Yao (first of the Sage Kings)Shun (second of the Sage Kings) Accomplishments of Interest: The silkworm was cultivated to produce silk (Sericulture).Cultivation of rice and milletInvention of wet rice (paddy) agriculturePig domesticationPotteryDecorative jadeCopper and bronze toolsIndia inkThe beginning of urban organization The Neolithic people in ancient China may have had ancestor worship. 02 of 09 Bronze Age Xia Dynasty Xia Dynasty Bronze Jue. Martha Avery/Corbis/Getty Images The Xia Dynasty ran from c. 2100 to c. 1800 BCE. Legend attributes the founding of the Xia dynasty to Yu, the third Sage King. There were said to be 17 rulers. Rule became hereditary. Technology: Pasturage and agricultureIrrigationPotteryShipsLacquerSilkSpinning/weavingCarving 03 of 09 Bronze Age - Shang Dynasty (Yin Dynasty) Vassil/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain The Shang Dynasty ran from c. 1800–c.1100 BCE. Tang took control of the Xia kingdom. There is evidence of human sacrifice. Accomplishments: Bronze vessels, weapons, and toolsCarved jade and turtle shells for divinationGlazed potteryLacquerwareTombsCalendarScript Diviniation (Oracle Bones) War chariots drawn by horses probably brought to China by Steppe residents 04 of 09 Zhou Dynasty (Chou Dynasty) Confucius. Szilas/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain The Zhou Dynasty, from c. 1027–c. 221 BCE, is divided into periods: Western Zhou 1027–771Eastern Zhou 770–221770–476 Spring and Autumn475–221 Warring States The Zhou were originally semi-nomadic and had co-existed with the Shang. The dynasty was begun by Kings Wen (Ji Chang) and Zhou Wuwang (Ji Fa) who were considered ideal rulers, patrons of the arts, and descendants of the Yellow Emperor. This was the period of the great philosophers, including Confucius (551–479 BCE) and Lao Tzu (7th century BCE). Technological accomplishments and inventions: Cire perdue 'Lost wax' methodInlayIron castingIron weaponsChariotsDyeGlassAstronomyMagnetismArithmeticFractionsGeometryPlowingPesticidesFertilizersAcupuncture In addition, human sacrifice appears to have disappeared. 05 of 09 Qin Dynasty thierrytutin/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0 The Qin Dynasty ran from 221–206 BCE. The first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, founded the Qin Dynasty, and the first unification of China. He built the Great Wall to keep out northern invaders and centralized the Chinese government. His tomb contained 6,000 terracotta figurines commonly believed to be models of soldiers. The Qin accomplishments: Standardized weights, measures, coinage—the bronze round coin with a square hole in the centerRelief Map (possibly)Zoetrope (possibly)Standardized writingStandardized chariot axle widthsCompass 06 of 09 Han Dynasty Entry of the First Emperor of the Han Dynasty into Guanzhong. Scanned from William Watson's The Arts of China/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain The Han Dynasty, which was founded by Liu Bang (Han Gaozu), lasted for four centuries (206 BCE–8, 25–220 CE). During this period, Confucianism became state doctrine. China had contact with the west via the Silk Road. Under Emperor Han Wudi, the empire expanded into Asia. Han Dynasty accomplishments: Civil Service competitive examsState AcademySeismograph invented to detect earthquakesIron plows led by oxen became common; coal to smelt ironWater-power millsCensusesPaper inventedProbably gunpowder 07 of 09 Three Kingdoms Chinese alley with red wall and green bamboo grove in Wuhou Temple,Chengdu,Sichuan Province,China.Wuhou Temple,or Wu Hou Shrine,has been attracting the public over the past 1780 years and thus has gained a reputation as a Sacred Place of the Three Kingdoms. xia yuan/Getty Images After the Han Dynasty of ancient China there was a period of constant civil war during which the three leading economic centers of the Han Dynasty tried to unify the land: The Cao-Wei Empire (220–265) from northern ChinaThe Shu-Han Empire (221–263) from the west, andThe Wu Empire (222–280) from the east. Accomplishments from this period and the next two: SugarPagodasPrivate parks and gardensGlazed earthenwarePorcelainParallaxPi Of Interest: During this period, tea may have been discovered. 08 of 09 Chin Dynasty (Jin Dynasty) The Chin Dynasty linked up the walls built in the past and extended them after unifying China in the 3rd century BCE, shaping up 'the Great Wall.'. Bettmann Archive/Getty Images Lasting from CE 265–420, the Chin Dynasty was started by Ssu-ma Yen (Sima Yan), who ruled as Emperor Wu Ti from CE 265–289. Ssu-ma Yen reunified China in 280 by conquering the Wu kingdom. After reuniting, he ordered the disbanding of the armies, but this order was not uniformly obeyed. 09 of 09 Northern and Southern Dynasties Northern Wei Dynasty Limestone Offering Shrine. Corbis/VCG via Getty Images/Getty Images Another period of disunity, the period of the Northern and Southern dynasties lasted from 317–589. The Northern Dynasties were: The Northern Wei (386–533)The Eastern Wei (534–540)The Western Wei (535–557)The Northern Qi (550–577)The Northern Zhou (557–588) The Southern Dynasties were The Song (420–478)The Qi (479–501)The Liang (502–556)The Chen (557–588) References and Further Reading Loewe, Michael, and Edward L. Shaughnessy. "The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999Perkins, Dorothy. "Encyclopedia of China: History and Culture." London: Routledge, 1999.Yang, Xiaoneng, ed. "Chinese Archaeology in the Twentieth Century: New Perspectives on China's Past." New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.