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Summary Article: Chinese dynasties from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Period Dynasty Major events
c. 2205–c. 1776 BC Hsia or Xia1 agriculture; use of bronze; first writing
c. 1776–c. 1027 BC Shang or Yin first major dynasty; first Chinese calendar
c. 1027–c. 256 BC Zhou developed society using money, iron, and written laws; age of Kung Fu Tzu (Confucius)
221–206 BC Qin unification after period of Warring States; building of Great Wall begun; roads built
206 BC–AD 220 Han first centralized and effectively administered empire; introduction of Buddhism
220–265 Wei, Shu, Wu (Three Kingdoms) division into three parts; prolonged fighting (Three Kingdoms) and eventual victory of Wei over Shu and Wu; Confucianism superseded by Buddhism and Taoism
265–317 Tsin beginning of Hun invasions in the north
581–618 Sui reunification; barbarian invasions stopped; Great Wall refortified
618–907 T'ang centralized government; empire greatly extended; period of excellence in sculpture, painting, and poetry
907–960 Wu Tai (Five Dynasties) economic depression and loss of territory in northern China, central Asia, and Korea; first use of paper money
960–1279 Song period of calm and creativity; printing developed (movable type); central government restored; northern and western frontiers neglected and Mongol incursions begun
1279–1368 Yüan beginning of Mongol rule in China, under Kublai Khan; Marco Polo visited China; dynasty brought to an end by widespread revolts, centred in Mongolia
1368–1644 Ming Mongols driven out by native Chinese; Mongolia captured by 2nd Ming emperor; period of architectural development; Beijing flourished as new capital
1644–1912 Qing (Manchu) China once again under non-Chinese rule, the Qing conquered by nomads from Manchuria; trade with the West; culture flourished, but conservatism eventually led to the dynasty's overthrow by nationalistic revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-sen



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