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Examining China’s Dynasties: Change Over Time

967 words - 4 pages

Between 206 BC and 1279 AD, ancient China transitioned through 3 major dynasties (the Han, Tang, and Song) in addition to others. Through change and continuities over time, these dynasties evolved China’s technology and innovation, religious beliefs, and trade and economy. As new ideas and inventions shaped and defined each dynasty, the 3 dynasties tended to be very different from each other as their changes outnumbered their continuities.

From 206 BC - 220 AD, China experienced its second greatest Chinese Imperial dynasty: The Han Dynasty. This dynasty, founded by Liu Bang, is considered by historians to be the prototype for all later Chinese dynasties. The Han lived in a country divided into a series of administrative areas ruled by centrally appointed officials, an arrangement adapted from the highly centralized Qin administrative structure. Economically, agriculture produced the wealth and taxes that supported Han China. For religion, the Han adopted a Confucian ideology that emphasized moderation and virtue throughout the Han dynasty’s reign. In 220 AD, Han power finally declined amidst land acquisitions, invasions, and feuding between consort clans and eunuchs. After the fall of the great Han dynasty around 220 AD, China broke apart into many smaller kingdoms. Unfortunately, for such an impressive dynasty, not many inventions punctuated this time period.

At the start of 618 AD however, China would face a tidal wave of new developments among warfare technology, trade, and navigational tools as the Tang dynasty came to occupy China. In between 618 AD and 755 AD, the Tang Dynasty (founded by the Li family), was a time of endless possibility for the Chinese. The Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han period due to innovations in warfare technology. In their war efforts, the Tang combined Chinese weapons (the crossbow and armored infantrymen) with Asian expertise in horsemanship and the use of iron stirrups. The Tang Dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability, as well as flourishing trade on the Silk Road as China became the sole supplier of porcelain. Economy became more based upon income from trade than agriculture during the Tang period because Chinese mariners and shipwrights excelled in compass design and the construction of very large oceangoing vessels, making it easier than ever before to share their products with their trade partners. The Tang also made advancements in science and technology with innovations such as woodblock printing, Clockworks, and Medicine (Chinese Herbology). Unlike the Han, the Tang rulers followed Inner Asian precedents in their political use of Mahayana Buddhism at the beginning of the dynasty’s reign. Nonetheless, near the end of the Tang dynasty, Tang elites came to see Buddhism as undermining the Confucian idea of the family as the model for the state, and converted back to the Confucianism followed by their Han...

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