Questions tagged [ancient-china]

Ancient China refers to the oldest period in Chinese history, prior to unification under the Qin Dynasty (221 B.C.) and the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – A.D. 220).

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How did the First Emperor of Qin "burn the books" prior to the invention of paper?

The first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang, is recorded as burning books (among other things). At the same time, the invention of paper is generally ascribed to the Han Dynasty, i.e., the dynasty after ...
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3 votes
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Have any cultures had a four-element system different from fire, earth, air (or wind), and water?

Ancient Greek culture (Empedocles, Aristotle) had fire, earth, air, and water. Such a system is also known in Buddhism and alchemy. Sometimes the third of these elements is conceived as wind. Hinduism ...
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How fast and how far could one travel, by means of horse relay posts, in ancient China in 1500CE?

I'm trying to find out how people used to travel by horse, when they had to go to a very distant territory. I have done research on horseback riding, horses and relay stations. I found out that the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Why is it said that the Qin dynasty was the first to unite China?

I have often heard that the Qin dynasty was the first to unite China. For example, Wikipedia says: Qin Shi Huang, or Shihuangdi, was the founder of the Qin dynasty, and first emperor of a unified ...
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5 votes
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How was the term "Mandate of Heaven" used during the rise and fall of Chinese dynasties?

The Mandate of Heaven (Chinese: 天命; pinyin: Tiānmìng; Wade–Giles: T'ien-ming; lit. 'Heaven's will') is a Chinese political philosophy that was used in ancient and imperial China to justify the rule of ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Did most major ancient cultures (e.g. the Mesopotamians) consider the heart as the main cognitive organ?

The Egyptians, Greeks (e.g. Aristotle), and Chinese certain did so. They believed that thinking was done by the heart. Was this true about all major ancient civilizations? Were there exceptions? ...
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4 votes
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What does this sentence from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms mean?

The third paragraph of the first chapter in Romance of the Three Kingdoms (translation by R. Moss), states: On the fifteenth day of the fourth month of the second year of the reign Established Calm [...
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13 votes
1 answer
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Did ancient Chinese and/or Japanese scholars speculate about what lay across the Pacific?

Before the age of exploration, a good number European scholars speculated about the Atlantic beyond the Iberian peninsula, whether it was the location of Atlantis, or whether or not Japan could be ...
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Why did China not become a democracy to cure involution? [closed]

I am new to politics-related questions, then please be kind if I am not asking a good question here(from your perspective). To get rid of being caught and involved in trouble I cannot not post this ...
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6 votes
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What was the Tang Dynasty definition of imperial 嫡子?

The distinction between 嫡子 and 庶子 was supposedly crucial in struggles for the Chinese imperial throne. It is often repeated (example) that only sons of the Empress were considered 嫡子。 Here it is ...
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How did Shang & Zhou Dynasty China use incense?

According to Wikipedia's Incense and Incense in China articles "At around 2000 BCE, Ancient China began the use of incense in the religious sense, namely for worship. Incense was used by Chinese ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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Help on finding out about a sword

After my mother passed away, I found this sword. I'm trying to get any information on it. It's one-piece, and appears to be brass under all the erosion but I could be wrong about the metal. I think it'...
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11 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of the cross on a Chinese bronze Gu Chalice?

The ancient Chinese had a bronze chalice called the Gu 觚, some of which feature a square cross near the bottom. Others feature a single slit hole there, as if the slit (cross or single) has a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What type of ancient Chinese headgear is this and what more do we know about it?

This is Zhao Bing, Emperor Bing of Song, the 18th and last emperor of the Song Dynasty. Is this headgear a Tongtianguan? And whatever type of headgear it is, what more do we know about it? What does ...
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Book (and/or podcast) recommendations for providing a historical & cultural context for Sichuan?

A couple friends and I plan on taking a tour in the southwestern region of China, specifically Sichuan & Yunan, around spring of next year. I find that it always makes the trip more engaging and ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How much (area) territory did Chinese dynasties control?

I am looking for the area of the territories controlled by the different Chinese dynasties since Zhou all the way to the Qing. There are maps available of the different territories but I haven't found ...
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What was the de facto rule by which the imperial title was transmitted in various Chinese dynasties?

I seek to find information about which rules or trends - if any - applied in Chinese imperial succession during different dynasties. I found this source, but I can’t get access and what I see in the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Did Cao Cao really say the greatest traitor resembled an honest man?

The greatest traitor has always resembled an honest man and the greatest falsehood comes across as truth. Righteousness and evil cannot be discerned by their appearance. People have decided wrongly ...
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Who was 'Viscount Yi' and what did he do to survive in the court of a madman?

There is an interesting answer by Valorum over on Scifi, which includes a quote from source material about a 'Viscount Yi': “I combined that notion with the kind of imagistic shorthand sometimes used ...
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Is there any idea of why Cao Cao's parents would give him a nearly identical name to the family name?

I've been doing a lot of reading up about the Three Kingdoms era of China, and Cao Cao stuck out to me as an interesting name. After some research I found that the words in Chinese are different, and ...
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1 answer
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In Romance of the Three Kingdoms why do people still use bamboo sticks when paper had already been invented?

By the time of the setting of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, paper had already been invented. Why do kings often (according to the movies) receive letters on bamboo sticks? Is this historically ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Why did emperors of India and China have so many mistresses?

Some Indian and Chinese emperors had more than 50 mistresses. Wasn't it difficult to please so many women and maintain peace among them? What caused them to have so many women?
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4 votes
1 answer
433 views

Where is an image of the oracle bone that describes the nova?

(Related to my previous question) Does anyone have a link to an image of the oracle bone that has this specific inscription: The inscriptions include the oldest observation of a nova (1300BCE) ‘A ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What are the best resources for studying oracle bone inscriptions?

Can someone please recommend the best resources for studying Chinese oracle bone inscriptions? Rather than general or specific information about oracle bones, I'm looking for collections or catalogs ...
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2 answers
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When were the three periods in which the silk road was most popularly used? [closed]

Apparently, there were 3 periods when the Silk Road was very popular and I am having trouble finding out when they were.
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10 votes
1 answer
247 views

What is the earliest recorded example of an extradition treaty or law?

While reading a news article on someone being extradited from overseas to face justice in the U.S. it started me thinking about the history of the extradition process. Wikipedia and The History Vault ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What literature explains life in Han dynasty tomb towns?

I've read in the book, The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han by Mark Edward Lewis, that ancient Chinese Emperors, upon their death, would have massive tomb hills/temples erected for their bodies to ...
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42 votes
1 answer
18k views

Did Chinese emperors wear a rectangular hat with suspended gems?

The mythical Jade Emperor is sometimes depicted as wearing a mortarboard hat with strings of jewels suspended from its edges: According to Shen Yun's post: Hanging from the front and back of the ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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When did Northern India and N. China begin to dominate in global demographics?

Video: Human Population Through Time This simple video says that there were 170 million people in the world at the beginning of the current era. Each dot represents a million people -there are about ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Did the first emperor of China die of mercury poisoning?

Did the first emperor Qin Shi Huang die of mercury poisoning? If so, how do we know? I've seen lots of claims that he did (and claims that he didn't), but no citation explaining what primary source ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Did Ancient China use lead in their food/water industry as much as the Romans?

The Romans used lead a lot. Water pipes might be the most famous, but there were lead plates and lead vessels to prepare food or drink too. Apparently lead was an inevitable byproduct of silver ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Do indigenous Latin Americans share any common "recent" ancestors with the Chinese?

I'm trying to understand this genetic map World map of Y-DNA Haplogroups and reading this article Settlement of the Americas. The article says North America and South America were settled by people ...
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4 votes
3 answers
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How did the Chinese crossbows that shot bullets work?

It's commonly accepted that East Asian people invented the crossbow. However, it seems they had crossbows that shoot bullets as well. As an example, Jing Fang uses this description when explaining his ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Scholar-farmer-artisan-merchant social ordering in ancient/medieval China

The phrase scholar-farmer-artisan-merchant (士農工商, shi-nong-gong-shang) is well-known in China and other Confucian countries. These were the four broad classes of people in ancient/medieval China. The ...
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2 votes
1 answer
372 views

The history of toys: Who invented the first porcelain dolls?

I've been reading about the history of toys online, as part of a personal project. One thing that surprised me was that every article I've found lists porcelain toys as having been invented by ...
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10 votes
2 answers
720 views

What is the historical evidence for asserting Huns were one and the same as Xiongnu?

This question is very close to a previous question, Who were the Huns and/or Xiongnu?, but I hope it is clear that I'm not asking the same point. In fact, I'm asking about the common assumption such ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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Are fiefdoms near the Capital assigned to trusted allies or the opposite, and why?

Our professor of Chinese History (in a document you can't access without a university account) when talking about feudal age China (before 221 BCE) makes a passing remark. She says in Ancient China ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Why was the Records of the Three Kingdoms composed before that of the Later Han?

Our professor taught that the Chinese historiographic tradition demanded each dynasty compose the history of the previous one, using the 'veritible records' (實錄) or court diaries (起居注) provided by ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What did ancient countries call themselves? [closed]

Especially non-European nations -- I'm under the impression that the names given to these countries, e.g. "the Maurya Dynasty", "the Qin Dynasty", "the Akkadian Empire", "the Old Kingdom of Egypt", ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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Are any archeological remains found from the Yellow Sea, China

During the last ice age when the sea level was lower, much of the continental shelf was exposed. For example, the North Sea was previously a low-lying region which is called "Doggerland". There are ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Name of a small state west of the Xiongnu and south of Wusun c. 50 A.D [closed]

There was a very small state in Western Mongolia which played a part in the politics of ancient Mongolia, circa 50 A.D. It sounded something like Wu-Shan-Mu or Wu-Shi-Mu. During a war between the ...
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1 vote
2 answers
268 views

What was the role of state sacrifices and music in Ming China?

I don't understand what is the role of music in their lives and what is the relevance between sacrifices and music? As a historical ethnomusicologist, I wish I could do fieldwork in the Ming court, ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Which were the most entrepreneurial AND prosperous cities in different eras? [closed]

[For what I mean by "an entrepreneurial and prosperous city," see the bulleted points below.] We're looking for a name for a research project. We're trying to be creative with the name and one of the ...
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4 votes
3 answers
472 views

Was there a "literate class" outside the Shi in Zhou-dynasty China?

According to wikipedia, during Zhou dynasty China's ... distinct class system, which lacked an organized clergy but saw the Shang Zi-clan yeomen become masters of ritual and ceremony known as Shi (...
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2 votes
3 answers
611 views

Why have eunuchs been so influential in Chinese history?

Throughout the history of China, eunuchs amassed power, destabilised dynasties, and commanded armies. They were a major cause in the decline of the Han, Tang and other dynasties. What customs or ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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How did ancient China invent such wonders as fear systems and calendar before ancient Europe? [duplicate]

What were some methods Chinese used to come up with such amazing creations like paper, compass, clocks, steel with chrome for keeping the blade from rusting etc. What were their "scientific methods?"...
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1 vote
2 answers
833 views

Did anyone ever try to beat the Great Wall of China by digging secret tunnels under it?

I know the Great Wall was useful to defend against enemies on land, but is there any record that people ever tried to beat the Great Wall by digging tunnels under it? If not, why didn't it happen?
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9 votes
1 answer
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Who was the earliest historian of the Greco-Roman world to write something substantial about China?

I recently came across an article about the Byzantine historian Theophylact Simocattis and learned that he wrote about the reunification of China by Emperor Wen. I also know that Cosmas ...
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11 votes
2 answers
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What was the standard spoken language (dialect) in the Three Kingdoms period?

Mandarin is the standard spoken language (dialect) in today's China, meaning distinct regions may have their own dialect, but they can all use Mandarin to communicate with each other. Since all ...
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31 votes
4 answers
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Why does the Great Wall of China follow such a bendy route?

Why does the path of the Great Wall of China bend back and forth so much? Naïvely, it would have taken less material and guards to defend if it had taken a straighter path, so there must have been ...
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