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Tabulation of Chinese History Dynasties

Dynasty Period
Key Events
Neolithic cultures 10,000-2,000 BCE The earliest known Chinese Stone Age culture was the relatively sophisticated Yang-shao, whose people lived in rudimentary settlements and hunted for game with carved stone spears. Chinese Neolithic pottery, both delicate and durable, was artfully decorated and served both practical and ritual purposes.
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors
ca. 2600-ca. 2200 BCE  
Xia Dynasty ca. 2100-ca. 1750 BCE The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian.
Shang Dynasty ca. 1766-1045 BCE Their cast-bronze weapons gave Shang kings military might. Jade objects increased in religious significance. Woven silk, glazed ceramics and lacquerware first appeared in the Shang.
Zhou Dynasty 1029–771 BC
Western Zhou
Eastern Zhou
Chinese culture changed radically during this 770-year period, as power extended across family lines to create aristocratic cities and principalities. Two enduring schools of thought-Confucianism and Taoism-evolved, and the Chinese literary tradition began.
Qin Dynasty   During this very brief dynasty, a dynamic leader named Shih-huang unified the "warring states" of the preceding era and declared himself China's first emperor. Buried with him in his tomb were more than 6,000 terra-cotta soldiers and horses; obviously, this dynasty supported a sophisticated ceramic industry.
Han Dynasties (206 BCE-220 CE_
Western/Former Han (206 BCE-9 CE)
Eastern/Later Han (25-220 CE)
Military expansion, political centralization, and cultural achievements made this the first of China's four greatest dynasties. The Han invented paper and lead-glazed ceramics, and greatly improved silk-weaving techniques. Their quest for alliances with foreign powers prompted them to establish an extensive trade route that extended to the Roman Empire and would become known as the Silk Road.
Six Dynasties 六朝 (220-589 CE)
Jin Dynasty
Northern and Southern Dynasties
The wars, plagues, and political instability that characterize this lengthy period forced the Chinese to question traditional belief systems, especially Confucianism, and encouraged many to embrace Buddhism and Taoism. Despite the pervasive turmoil, the arts flourished and evolved. The invention of woodblock printing made it possible to teach the tenets of Buddhism to the masses.
Sui Dynasty 隋朝 581-618 CE First ruled by a progressive leader and then by his ne'er-do-well son, this brief period closed with the arrival of a third emperor, one who would usher in the T'ang dynasty, another Chinese golden age. A strong Indian influence is evident in both the abundant sculpture and the numerous Buddhist temples and meditation caves dating from the Sui.
T'ang Dynasty
618-906 CE The second of the four greatest dynasties, the T'ang combined aggressive military and economic expansion with political stability and creative achievement. Traffic along the Silk Road was brisk with both import and export trade. The T'ang revered both horses and camels, figures of which were placed in the burials of the royalty and aristocracy, along with gold and silver ornaments.
Five Dynasties五代 907-960 CE Brief and unremarkable in terms of military activity and economic progress, this period is nonetheless noteworthy in terms of two artistic advances. First, as porcelain technique continued to develop. Second, a distinctive style of painting called "monumental ink landscape" dominated.
Sung Dynasty
Northern Song
Southern Song
Considered the third Chinese golden age, this dynasty was divided into Northern and Southern  halves. The former was a tranquil time. The latter was quite the opposite; brutal invaders drove the Chinese from their northern territory, forcing them to migrate south and establish a new capital city. The variety and quality of ceramics increased dramatically, and wooden sculpture was convincingly realistic.
Yuan Dynasty
1279-1368 Mongol invader Genghis Khan and his hordes conquered much of Asia, including China; his grandson Kublai Khan established this dynasty, during which the Mongols reopened and expanded overland trade routes linking China, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean.
Ming Dynasty
1368-1644 The last of the outstanding dynasties, the Ming was vibrant during its first half but racked with internal discord during its second. Scores of workers constructed the renowned Forbidden City, an imperial palace of staggering proportions and opulence.
Ch'ing Dynasty 1644-1912 The last Chinese dynasty began on a positive note-of energetic collecting, cataloging, and exporting-but ended disastrously. European demand for blue-and-white porcelain, lacquer, and jade, as well as for tea, soared. Vivid colors returned to ceramics, increasing the popularity of so-called pictorial porcelain-oversized platters and vases adorned with meticulously painted scenes.