Ancient China


Ancient China produced what has become the oldest extant culture in the world. The name 'China' comes from the Sanskrit Cina (derived from the name of the Chinese Qin Dynasty, pronounced 'Chin') which was translated as 'Cin' by the Persians and seems to have become popularized through trade along the Silk Road.

More about: Ancient China


  • c. 6500 BCE
    Rice cultivation begins in the Yangtze River valley in China.
  • c. 5000 BCE
    Dead buried with grave goods at Banpo Village, China.
  • 5000 BCE
    Evidence of the surgical procedure of trephination found in China.
  • 5000 BCE
    Villages arise in China around the Yellow River. Terraced farming begins and rice is cultivated.
  • c. 4800 BCE
    Neolithic village of Banpo in China built.
  • c. 4500 BCE - c. 3750 BCE
    The Neolithic village of Banpo is inhabited.
  • 4500 BCE - 3000 BCE
    The Hongshan culture in China produces a jade figurine which is the oldest known depiction of a dragon.
  • c. 3600 BCE
    First appearance of silk in China.
  • c. 3000 BCE - c. 1700 BCE
    The Longshan culture flourishes in north-east China.
  • c. 2700 BCE
    The earliest known examples of woven silk from Qianshanyang, China.
  • c. 2070 BCE - c. 1600 BCE
    The Xia Dynasty rules in China.
  • c. 1789 BCE - 1758 BCE
    Kong Jia of the Xia Dynasty rules in China.
  • 1728 BCE - 1675 BCE
    Jie is the last ruler of the Xia Dynasty in China.
  • 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
    Writing develops in China during the Shang Dynasty.
  • 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE
    Shang Dynasty in China.
  • c. 1300 BCE
    The Chinese Shang dynasty moves its capital to Yin (modern Anyang).
  • c. 1300 BCE
    The chariot is introduced to China from the northwest.
  • c. 1250 BCE - c. 1150 BCE
    The I-Ching, the Book of Changes, is written.
  • 1250 BCE - 1192 BCE
    Reign of the great Emperor Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty in China.
  • c. 1050 BCE
    King Wen of Zhou is the first Chinese ruler to claim a Mandate of Heaven.
  • 1046 BCE - 771 BCE
    Western Zhou dynasty replaces the Shang Dynasty in China.
  • 772 BCE - 476 BCE
    The Spring and Autumn Period in China.
  • 771 BCE - 256 BCE
    Eastern Zhou Dynasty in China.
  • 771 BCE
    Following nomadic attacks in the west, the Chinese Zhou dynasty moves its capital east to Luoyang. Beginning of Eastern Zhou Period.
  • 551 BCE - 479 BCE
    Life of Confucius.
  • 512 BCE - 506 BCE
    The Wu Chu wars in China between the States of Wu and Chu.
  • 506 BCE
    The Battle of Boju at which the Wu forces under Sun-Tzu defeated the Chu.
  • c. 500 BCE
    Life of the Chinese Relativist Philosopher Teng Shih (probable date of death 522 or 502 BCE).
  • c. 500 BCE
    Probable life of the Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu, founder of Taoism and author of the Tao-Te-Ching.
  • c. 500 BCE
    Probable life of Sun-Tzu, Military Strategist, author of The Art of War.
  • c. 481 BCE - 221 BCE
    Warring States Period in China.
  • 470 BCE - 391 BCE
    Life of the Chinese pacifist philosopher Mo Ti, founder of Mohism.
  • 440 BCE - 360 BCE
    Life of Chinese Hedonist Philosopher Yang Zhu.
  • 372 BCE - 289 BCE
    Life of the Confucian philosopher Mencius (Mang-Tze).
  • 364 BCE
    Duke Xin, ruler of Qin, is awarded the title of Hegemon by the Zhou state.
  • 343 BCE
    Xiao, ruler of Qin, is awarded the title of Hegemon by the Zhou state.
  • 328 BCE - 308 BCE
    Rise of the Chinese state of Qin.
  • 326 BCE
    Huiwen, ruler of Qin, is awarded royal status by the Zhou state.
  • c. 280 BCE - c. 233 BCE
    Life of Han Feizi who developed Legalism in China.
  • 278 BCE
    The Qin state captures Ying, the capital of the Chu state.
  • 262 BCE - 260 BCE
    The Battle of Changping, one of the most important battles in the Warring States Period in China between Zhao and Qin.
  • 259 BCE - 210 BCE
    Life of Ying Zheng of Qin, Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China.
  • 256 BCE
    The army of the state of Qin captures the city of Chengzhou and the last Zhou ruler, King Nan, is killed. End of the Zhou Dynasty.
  • 256 BCE
    The Qin absorbs the remains of the Zhou state.
  • 230 BCE
    The Qin state defeats the Han state during the Warring States Period.
  • 225 BCE
    The Qin state defeats the Wei state during the Warring States Period.
  • 223 BCE
    The Qin state absorbs the Chu state during the Warring States Period.
  • 221 BCE - 206 BCE
    The Qin Dynasty in China.
  • 221 BCE - 210 BCE
    First emperor of a united China, Shi Huangti, rules.
  • 221 BCE
    The Qin state defeats the Yan and Qi states during the Warring States Period.
  • 220 BCE - 210 BCE
    Emperor Shi Huangti initiates building the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canal.
  • c. 218 BCE
    Construction of the Great Wall of China is initiated.
  • 213 BCE - 206 BCE
    Qin Dynasty elevates Legalism as state philosophy and bans all others.
  • 213 BCE
    The Burning of the Books and the Burying of Philosophers Period in China.
  • 210 BCE - 206 BCE
    China rises in rebellion against crumbling Qin Dynasty.
  • 206 BCE
    Chinese Qin empire collapses following the death of emperor Shi Huangti. Civil War begins.
  • 206 BCE - 9 CE
    The Western Han dynasty rules China from their capital in Chang'an.
  • 206 BCE
    The Emperor Shi Huangti is buried with a terracotta army of more than 8,000 soldiers in a palace tomb.
  • 202 BCE
    The Battle of Gaixia in which the Han forces defeat the Chu.
  • 202 BCE
    Liu-Bang of Han establishes the Han Dynasty in China.
  • 202 BCE
    Liu Bang is proclaimed emperor of China after defeating the rival general Xiang Yu.
  • Mar 202 BCE
    Emperor Gaozu (Liu Bang) becomes the first Han ruler.
  • 195 BCE
    Liu Bang dies. His empress Lü Zhi (also known as Lü Hou) rules through puppet kings for her own benefit for the next fifteen years.
  • 141 BCE - 87 BCE
    Han Emperor Wu abandons Legalism in favor of Confucianism.
  • 141 BCE - 87 BCE
    Reign of Emperor Wu (Wu the Great), the most effective and influential of the Han monarchs.
  • 140 BCE - 87 BCE
    Han emperor Wu rules and expands Han territory in China.
  • 138 BCE - 126 BCE
    Zhang Qian, as envoy of Emperor Wu, opens up the 'Silk Road' trading route between China and central Asia.
  • 117 BCE - 100 BCE
    Han emperors extend the western part of the Great Wall of China.
  • 111 BCE
    Kingdom of Nan-Yueh (northern Vietnam) comes under Chinese administration.
  • 109 BCE
    Chinese Han Empire conquers the kingdom of Tien.
  • 104 BCE - 101 BCE
    The War of the Heavenly Horses, general Li Guangli forces the city of Da Yuan (Alexandria Eschate) into tributary status.
  • 2 CE
    Chang'an, the imperial capital of China, had a population of nearly 250 thousand people.
  • 9 CE - 23 CE
    Emperor Wang Mang, known as a reformist, reigns in China, founds Xin Dynasty.
  • 9 CE
    Wang Mang takes control of the empire by usurping the throne and proclaiming his innovative dynasty called Xin ("new").
  • 23 CE
    The sack of Chang'an, imperial capital of China.
  • c. 23 CE
    After the sack of Chang'an, Liu Xiu led his loyal officials to the city of Luoyang, where the Chinese imperial capital was relocated.
  • 25 CE - 220 CE
    The Eastern Han dynasty rules China.
  • 91 CE
    The Han dynasty of China invades Mongolia.
  • c. 155 CE - 220 CE
    Life of Cao Cao, Chinese military dictator and founder of the Wei state.
  • 160 CE
    Chinese Han empire in decline.
  • 168 CE - 189 CE
    Ling is emperor in China.
  • 184 CE
    The Yellow Turban rebellion breaks out when local government offices are attacked across China.
  • 184 CE - 192 CE
    The 'Yellow Turban' rebellion is quashed by the Han in China.
  • 184 CE
    A large peasant uprising known as the Yellow Turban Rebellion (sometimes referred to as the Yellow Scarves Rebellion) threatened the city of Luoyang.
  • 189 CE
    Luoyang, the Han capital, is sacked by the Chinese warlord Dong Zhuo.
  • 190 CE
    Luoyang, the Han capital in China, is burned.
  • 190 CE
    Dong Zhou seized control of the Chinese imperial capital and placed a child, Liu Xie, as the new ruler.
  • 205 CE
    Cao Cao takes over the former Han government and appoints himself chancellor, in effect, a military dictator.
  • 208 CE
    China is divided into three regional kingdoms.
  • 215 CE
    Cao Cao represses for good the Yellow Turban rebellion in China.
  • 220 CE
    Liu Xie abdicated the throne. Wars between warlords and states continued and China would have to wait about 350 years to be unified again.
  • 220 CE
    Death of the North China military dictator Cao Cao.
  • 304 CE
    The nomadic Xiongu break through the Great Wall of China.
  • 342 CE
    Murong Huang invades Korea from China and sacks the Goguryeo capital of Gungnae, taking 50,000 inhabitants prisoner.
  • 413 CE - 478 CE
    Japanese kings send ambassadors and tribute to China.
  • c. 494 CE
    The first Buddhist caves are carved at Longmen Grottoes, China.
  • 494 CE
    The Northern Wei select Luoyang as their capital in China.
  • 528 CE
    Steppe hordes attack the Chinese capital Luoyang.
  • 581 CE - 601 CE
    Reign of Wen (aka Wendi), first Sui emperor in China.
  • 581 CE - 618 CE
    Sui Dynasty in China.
  • 604 CE - 618 CE
    Reign of Yang (aka Yangdi), second and last Sui emperor in China.
  • 618 CE - 907 CE
    The Tang Dynasty in China.
  • 618 CE - 626 CE
    Reign of Gaozu, 1st Emperor of Tang Dynasty in China.
  • 626 CE - 649 CE
    Reign of Emperor Taizong in China.
  • 634 CE
    Taizong signs peace treaty between Tibet and China.
  • 649 CE - 683 CE
    Reign of Emperor Gaozong in China.
  • 668 CE
    The Goguryeo kingdom of northern Korea collapses following an attack by the Tang Dynasty of China.
  • 683 CE - 704 CE
    Reign of Empress Wu Zetian, only female monarch of China.
  • 690 CE - 704 CE
    Reign of Empress Wu Zetian in China.
  • 712 CE - 756 CE
    Taoism becomes official religion of China under the Emperor Xuanzong.
  • 768 CE - 824 CE
    Life of Han Yu, "the Shakespeare of China".
  • 842 CE - 845 CE
    The Chinese state persecutes Buddhist monks and their monasteries.
  • 843 CE
    The Tang empire attacks and kills 10,000 Uyghur tribespeople in Inner Mongolia.
  • 907 CE - 960 CE
    The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period in China.
  • 907 CE - 1125 CE
    The Khitan tribes form the Liao dynasty and rule parts of Mongolia, Manchuria and northern China.
  • 907 CE
    Zhu Wen establish Later Liang Dynasty in China. The start of the Five Dynasties.
  • 937 CE - 975 CE
    First mention of foot-binding in Chinese texts.
  • 938 CE
    The Khitan Liao dynasty invades northern China.
  • 960 CE - 1125 CE
    The Northern Song Dynasty in China.
  • 960 CE - 976 CE
    Reign of Emperor Taizu, founder of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 960 CE - 1279 CE
    Song Dynasty in China.
  • 976 CE - 997 CE
    Reign of Emperor Taizong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • c. 990 CE - 1030 CE
    Life of Chinese painter Fan Kuan.
  • 997 CE - 1022 CE
    Reign of Emperor Zhenzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1004 CE
    Treaty of Shanyuan which brings peace between the Liao dynasty and Song dynasty of China with the latter compelled to pay annual tribute.
  • 1022 CE - 1063 CE
    Reign of Emperor Renzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1044 CE
    Defeat to the Xia state results in China's Song dynasty paying tribute.
  • 1063 CE - 1067 CE
    Reign of Emperor Yingzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1067 CE - 1085 CE
    Reign of Emperor Shenzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1085 CE - 1100 CE
    Reign of Emperor Zhizong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1100 CE - 1126 CE
    Reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1115 CE
    The Jurchen (Jin state) attack the Liao state in northern China.
  • 1115 CE - 1234 CE
    The Jurchen Jin state rules in Mongolia and northern China.
  • 1115 CE - 1123 CE
    Reign of Emperor Taizu, founder of the Jurchen Jin state.
  • 1125 CE - 1279 CE
    The Southern Song Dynasty in China.
  • 1125 CE
    The Jin state attacks Song China.
  • 1125 CE
    The Jurchen Jin state invades Song China necessitating the latter to move south and form the Southern Song dynasty.
  • 1127 CE - 1162 CE
    Reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1138 CE
    Hangzhou (aka Linan) is made the capital of the Song Dynasty, now known as the Southern Song.
  • 1141 CE
    A peace treaty is signed betwwen the (southern) Song Dynasty and Jin state.
  • 1142 CE
    The Jurchen Jin dynasty and Southern Song dynasty sign a formal peace treaty.
  • 1153 CE
    The Jurchen Jin state capital is moved from Shangjing (Harbin) to Yanjing (Beijing).
  • 1162 CE - 1189 CE
    Reign of Emperor Xiaozong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1189 CE - 1194 CE
    Reign of Emperor Guangzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1194 CE - 1224 CE
    Reign of Emperor Ningzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1205 CE
    The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
  • 1209 CE
    The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
  • 1211 CE
    The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
  • 1215 CE
    The Mongols attack the Jurchen Jin state in northern China.
  • 1224 CE - 1264 CE
    Reign of Emperor Lizong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • Feb 1234 CE
    The Mongols attack and conquer the Jurchen Jin State in northern China.
  • 1264 CE - 1274 CE
    Reign of Emperor Duzong of the Song dynasty in China.
  • 1271 CE - 1368 CE
    The Mongol Yuan Dynasty, founded by Kublai Khan, rules China.
  • 1273 CE
    Xiangyang falls into Mongol hands.
  • 1274 CE - 1275 CE
    Reign of Emperor Gongzong of the Song dynasty in southern China.
  • 1275 CE - 1279 CE
    The Mongols led by Kublai Khan attack and conquer the last remnants of Song China.
  • 1275 CE - 1277 CE
    Reign of Emperor Duanzong of the Song dynasty in southern China.
  • 1278 CE - 1279 CE
    Reign of Emperor Dibing of the Song dynasty in southern China.
  • 1368 CE - 1644 CE
    Reign of the Ming Dynasty in China.
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