April 11, 2006: April 11, 2006
Early Chinese Civilization
Video: First Emperor of China Chinese Unification: Chinese Unification
Shih Huang Ti (First Emperor) unified China into a single imperial kingdom in 221 B.C.
He inherited the throne of the Qin kingdom at the age of thirteen.
Shih Huang Ti frequently engaged in battle, eventually conquering six other major kingdoms.
Defeated greatest rival, Zhao, and reportedly killed 400,000 prisoners in the process
He declared himself China’s first emperor.
Instituted centralized bureaucracy over feudal system
Qin empire lasted from 221 B.C.-206 B.C. but imperial China lasted until 1912 Qin Dynasty: Qin Dynasty Centralization achieved through standardization of laws regarding behavior and thought
Wheel sizes standardized and extensive highways constructed
All previous writings destroyed; all scholars killed
Weapons and fortifications were made illegal
Monumental architecture – Great Wall, Royal Tombs Xianyang : Xianyang The Chinese empire was ruled from the capital city of Xianyang.
Shih Huang Ti forced over 100,000 royal and wealthy families from throughout the empire to move to the city from their local areas, which weakened their power.
Luxurious palaces that were replicas of royal residences in their homelands were built in Xianyang.
The move also concentrated economic and political power in a single capital. Qin Monumental Architecture: Qin Monumental Architecture Shih Huang Ti built the Great Wall along China’s northern periphery by joining walls that had been constructed by earlier feudal states.
Built primarily of mud-brick (later fired brick construction occurred in the 16th century)
Some have suggested that the wall was constructed for defensive purposes.
Others have proposed that the wall was a means of preventing China’s heavily-taxed peasants from escaping taxes and conscription.
“Longest cemetery on earth” – 1 million people buried along its length Condition of the Wall: Condition of the Wall Heavily destroyed by humans and nature
Encroachment of Gobi desert
Only 20% of the wall remains Great Wall: Great Wall Most of the modern Great Wall was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1640)
4,000 miles long
Watchtowers built along its length are designed to be confusing
Visible from space? First claimed in 1938 book
Watchtowers: Watchtowers Tomb of Shih Huang Ti: Tomb of Shih Huang Ti Shih Huang Ti began building his tomb as soon as he became emperor.
The project took 36 years and was worked on by 700,000 laborers.
The architects of the tomb conceived of it as a miniature universe.
The burial tomb, called Mount Li, was at one time 150 feet tall, and the total complex covered 500 acres.
The tomb was booby-trapped to prevent looters Mausoleum: Mausoleum Purpose of the tomb was to serve the emperor in the afterlife
Built as a minature version of Chang’an, the Qin capital
Included a palace, defensive walls, mercury river, stars painted on ceiling
Equipment of all kinds was provided for the emperor – most made of bronze Terracotta soldiers: Terracotta soldiers A little less than a mile from Mount Li lies a three-acre gallery of terracotta soldiers.
This symbolized the past practice of kings being buried with living warriors, women, servants, and horses.
Eight thousand figures have been exposed, along with wooden chariots and horses.
The soldiers are arranged in battle formation.
A rich artifact assemblage accompanies the army. End of the Qin Dynasty: End of the Qin Dynasty Shih Huang Ti died on a journey to the eastern provinces and was succeeded by his youngest son.
His oldest son was given a fake order to commit suicide so that the younger son could succeed as emperor.
Qin rule was succeeded by the Han dynasty, which lasted for 400 years (206 B.C. – A.D. 220).
During the Han dynasty, China became even more densely settled with an estimated population of over fifty million.