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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914 views

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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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 warlord 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 ...
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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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When is the first recorded instance of the lo-shu square?

The lo-shu square (洛書) is a 3×3 grid of numbers, usually written as dots: Legend traces its origin to the legendary Yu the Great (大禹) or Fu-hi (伏羲) ~3000 years ago, but I'm interested in historically ...
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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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887 views

Why did Emperor Xian's flight from Chang'an take one year?

During the end of the Han dynasty, the capital Chang'an fell under control of warlords Li Jue and Guo Si, who fought each other soon after. The emperor Xian escaped and eventually reached the ruins of ...
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1answer
398 views

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 ...
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1answer
150 views

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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Did the Chinese Develop Steam Engines Prior to the 17th Century?

I vaguely remember seeing a documentary on the history channel that was discussion on ancient Chinese technology. The basic theme of the program was that China developed many industrial technologies ...
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1answer
171 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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In Romance of the Three Kingdoms why do people still use bamboo sticks when paper had already been invented?

By the era of the Romance of Three Kingdoms, paper had already been invented. Why do kings often (according to the movies) receive letters in bamboo sticks. Is this historically accurate?
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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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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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228 views

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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1answer
290 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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804 views

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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1answer
10k 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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586 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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1answer
917 views

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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Why didn't the Black Death result in favorable results for surviving peasants in China?

Black Death affected Europe and China alike. In Europe, the Black Death resulted in social mobility of the peasants, and as a result, labor-saving innovations were introduced. All these laid ...
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Did the Romans know about China?

Could there be a possibility that some Romans knew that there was a country north east of India? Because as far as I know the Romans traded with Indians.
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How were Chinese Dynasties named?

What were the rules or conventions for choosing the name of a new dynasty chosen? Was there a single method for naming all of the Chinese dynasties?
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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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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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1answer
383 views

How did the Chinese crossbows that shoot 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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Did the Great Wall of China help cause the fall of the Roman Empire?

I recently came across a saying that "Rome fell essentially because China built the Great Wall" (to protect itself against the Xiongnu people, if I remember correctly) in a lecture series on peoples ...
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343 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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1answer
259 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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3answers
714 views

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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1answer
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Why was the Records of the Three Kingdoms composed before that of the Later Han?

Our professor taught that Chinese historiographic tradition demands each dynasty to compose the history of the previous one, using the 實錄 or 起居注 provided by said dynasty. Browsing the Wikipedia ...
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Why were the Mongols so victorious? [duplicate]

I read that the Mongol Empire conquered and unified China. My question is... how were the Mongols able to conquer so much when China's population almost certainly was larger during that time period? ...
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1answer
519 views

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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1answer
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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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2answers
222 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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1answer
97 views

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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4answers
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What are the oldest primary sources of recorded history in China?

There is for instance Sima Qian, according to Wikipedia the first Chinese historian, who wrote the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian) in 109 BCE. But does this primary source still exist, or do ...
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3answers
511 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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4answers
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How has Chinese GDP as a percentage of world GDP changed over time and why?

I've heard it's 33% during the Qing dinasty. 4% during cultural revolution. Now it's climbing up steadily to 11%. Where can I see the table of those actually tracking those numbers? What were the ...
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102 views

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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1answer
571 views

Was there anyone try to beat Great Wall of China by digging secret tunnels under it?

I know Great Wall is useful to defend enemies on land, but is there any record that people had ever tried to beat Great Wall by digging tunnels under it? If not, why didn't it happen?
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234 views

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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2answers
872 views

Chinese legendary figures with European appearance [closed]

I've been fascinated by the discovery of the Indo-European origin of the mummies in the Tarim basin. This article says: The new finds are also forcing a reexamination of old Chinese books that ...
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6answers
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Why did non-monarchic rule meet with so little success in ancient China?

In the ancient world, the states around the Mediterranean were ruled by various forms of monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, each of which had varying levels of success. Meanwhile, in China, monarchy ...
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Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Chinese kids the world over are frequently taught that there is "5000 years of Chinese history". What basis is there for this claim?
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What events led to the fall of the Zhou Dynasty during the Warring States period?

The title above is fairly broad, so more specifically, what specific events led to the Warring States period experienced towards the end of the Western Zhou Dynasty in ancient China? As the lineage ...
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2answers
1k views

Why didn't the Chinese repeating crossbow dominate?

Why didn't this devastating machine gun dominate the world? This fires faster than early musketeers.
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255 views

Did Ancient Chinese architecture develop anything analogous to the Greek Orders?

Pretty much every culture in the world has its own tradition of architecture, design principles, etc., reflecting what society considers "ideal." In ancient Greece, these famously became codified into ...
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4answers
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Why did Chinese use high tin bronze for swords?

Also unique for Chinese bronzes is the consistent use of high tin bronze (17–21% tin) which is very hard and breaks if stressed too far, whereas other cultures preferred lower tin bronze (usually 10%),...
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1answer
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What did Kong Rong say about Cao Cao that got Kong Rong killed?

The Wikipedia article on Kong Rong says: In 208, Kong Rong spoke ill of Cao Cao before an emissary from Sun Quan, a warlord occupying southeast China. Cao Cao then sentenced him to death. ...
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How historical are early Chinese (Shang dynasty and earlier) dynastic records?

Early Chinese dynastic records look like actual history in some places (in particular the exact dating of reigns, back to and including the Yellow Emperor). Elsewhere, there is clearly a lot of myth ...