Chinese Civilization

The Chinese civilization is one of the most ancient in the world. The history of China may be divided into the periods of the reign of different dynasties. The paper investigates the influence of Xia, Shang and Qin dynasties on the development of the Chinese civilization. 

The territory of China may be divided into two parts: the western one, covered with high Himalayan mountains, and the eastern one, where most of the territory was flat and located not far from the coastal line. Almost all the rivers in the territory of China flow to the East creating a mild climate favorable for agriculture. The autumn in China is warm and dry, and in summer the monsoons from the ocean bring a huge amount of precipitations. As well as in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and India, the soil in China contained alluvial clay. The development of the Chinese civilization began in the valley of the river of Huang He. Several times, the river changed its watercourse and razed to the ground cities and tribes. 


At the ancient times, the territory of China was covered with forests. It was the main difference in the comparison with Mesopotamia and Egypt. This factor forced the people to build the first settlements not at the debauchment but in the middle of the watercourse. However, the agricultural conditions there were the worst in the comparison with the Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian ones. Annually, China faced abrupt climate changes. The winters were snowy, and the summers were hot. The forests also caused a problem for the development of the region. The floods uprooted the trees that went to the bottom of the river and rose its level. Due to this factor, the river changed its watercourse several times and there took place even more severe floods. 

To regulate the floods, all the Khan tribes had to unite their efforts. According to D. N. Keightley, the most wide-spread agricultural species became rice. It did not require special conditions of the soil. The only requirement was a sufficient amount of water. The conditions of rice growing required the high level of the development of agricultural instruments and methods. The Chinese established the system of field division. The plot of land was divided into three parts two of which were sawn and one had to “relax”. 

The Chinese nation created a special system of textile production. Almost all over the world, people produced plants, that provided them with fiber. In China, people planted mulberry trees and located there the bombyx grubs. As a result, they received light and unique textile that could be painted in different colors. Due to this factor, China obtained an opportunity to begin the trade with other civilizations. Silk became one of the main export products. The desire of people to obtain this material caused the development of the Silk Road that was favorable for the exchange of knowledge.

Accordind to L. Ye, the process of territorial expansion began only in the beginning of the I millennium B. C. The tribes begin the movement towards the watercourse of the Yangtze and more to the south. At the beginning of the modern era, the ancient country moved its borders far beyond the limits of the Yellow River.  

According to L. Chen, the traditional Chinese historiography begins from the five ancestors of the Chinese people: Huandgi, Zhuanxu, Yandi, Yao, and Shun. The time of their government is considered to be the golden age in the history of the ancient China. The birth of the Yellow Emperor took place in 2704 B. C. His reign lasted from 2698 to 2598 B. C. The Yellow Emperor is considered to be one of the founders of Daoism. After the ancestors, the reign in China was inherited by the first dynasty of Xia. 

According to L. Ye, in the traditional history of China, this dynasty was established by Yu the Great in 2070 B. C. The period of its reign lasted till 1600 B. C. Later, they were replaced by the Shang dynasty. The Xia dynasty enumerated seventeen rulers, the last of which, according to the legend, fell in love with an evil woman that caused the rebellion of people, who decided to give the power to the new dynasty. 

The first reliable sources in the history of the ancient China belong to this period. The Shang dynasty is considered to have the features of the early states. It developed independently from the other centers of eastern civilizations. The representatives of the dynasty lived in plain houses. Agriculture was the basis of the contemporary economy. The dynasty was headed by a governor. The lands were divided into the tribal and common. The common lands were used to support the functions of the governor. The state had a complex social and political structure with three levels of administration (local, regional and central). 

However, the division of lands that were settled by different tribes caused the political instability. At the same time, there was carried out the process of consolidation of different regions that became more independent from the central power. The fourth-sixth generations of the local governors did not agree to be subjected to the central authority. 

According to D. N. Keightley, in the VIII century, B. C. China faces the Spring and Autumn period when the authority of the Shang Vans becomes nominal, and the governors of the local lands declare themselves to be vans. They establish a league to support each other and to impose their will on the Shang dynasty. 

P. B. Ebrey states that all the VII and VI centuries are characterized as a constant struggle of the new principalities and the central power. With time, the central government becomes the observer of the process while the local vans begin the struggle among themselves. In fact, the Shang dynasty obtained the same status as the other principalities despite the fact that its governor had the title of the main Van. 

According to P. B. Ebrey, in the Warring States period that lasted from V to III centuries B. C., there appeared seven main principalities that were struggling for the leadership in the country. The period ended with the establishment of the centralized Qin Empire. The wide spread of iron instruments allowed the civilization to leave the limits of the two rivers and to expand the agricultural territories. The social and economic development is characterized by the growth of the exchange processes between the principalities. There was established the monetary form of money. 

The growth of trade was favorable for the division of towns and villages. There appeared administrative, political and trade centers. The society faced the development of the new social group of merchants. The scientists soon started carrying out the functions of ministers and governors and replaced the Shang aristocracy. 

The development of monetary and trade relations and the appearance of religious and philosophic movements caused the unification tendencies. Gradually, there remained only several principalities that were the strongest at that time. With time, the principality of Qin obtained the victory in the struggle. Earlier, the principality did not occupy a significant position in the hierarchy and was not characterized by developed economic relations. However, its governors managed to create a numerous army and to use the diplomatic activity and political unions to weaken their main rivals. 

P. B. Ebrey states that in 221 B. C., the governor of the Qin dynasty obtained the status of the fist emperor. He carried out the reforms to avoid the development of separatism movement and created a centralized country. First of all, he established the system of administrative division. A special attention was paid to the establishment of new limits of regions that did not correspond the previous ones. The leaders of the biggest administrative units were appointed by the emperor and were subjected only to him. 

The other reforms were directed towards the abolishment of the previous atomism. The emperor established a single legislative system based on the transmission of the responsibility to the members of the family in the case of the criminal`s escape. All the religious cults that might be connected with local separatism were destroyed. The emperor ordered to unify the system of the Chinese written language and to abolish its local variants that caused the opportunity for a better exchange of knowledge and experience. 

However, these reforms could not totally destroy the local separatism. P. B. Ebrey states that after the death of the emperor in 209 B. C., there took place a rebellion that could not be oppressed. The power of the Qin dynasty was abolished in 207 B. C.

However, the period of the Qin government became an example for the next dynasties in China. The idea of a single nation, a centralized state and a developed bureaucratic system became the main features of the following politic organizations. The government of Qin dynasty became the basis for the formation of the Chinese nation and country.

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