Introduction - Chinese DynastiesThe early history of Chinese civilization is divided into dynasties. By definition a dynasty is a succession of rulers who are from the same family or clan. The dynasty was named after the ruling family. As with world history in general it is not always easy to draw a nice neat line or name an exact date where one period ended and another started. Often the transition from one dynasty to another was a long chaotic process involving wars and taking many years for the new dynasty to gain complete control. Also, at times different regions of China were ruled by different people and not under the rule of one dynasty. Some dynasties like the Ming Dynasty lasted for centuries and others lasted for just a few decades. On this site we provide lists of ancient Chinese dynasties facts including information about specific dynasties. You will find interesting information on how they came to power, when they ruled, who their great leaders were, what their culture was like, and some of the amazing art, inventions, and architecture they left behind. This information is written for both kids and adults.
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Timeline of Ancient Chinese DynastiesAs mentioned earlier the timeline of the ancient dynasties of China consist of some overlapping periods and can be confusing. The list below is a basic timeline. Some of the dates are subject to debate or interpretation.
- Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors (Before 2070 BC)
- Xia Dynasty (2070-1600 BC)
- Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC)
- Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC)
- Eastern Zhou Dynasty (divided into Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States period) (770-221 BC)
- Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC)
- Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-9 AD)
- Xin Dynasty (9-23 AD)
- Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220 AD)
- Three Kingdoms (220-265 AD)
- Western Jin Dynasty (265-317 AD)
- Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420 AD)
- Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589 AD)
- Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD)
- Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD)
- Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (907-960 AD)
- Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127 AD)
- Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD)
- Liao Dynasty (907 or 916-1125 AD)
- Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD)
- Western Xia (1038-1227 AD)
- Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD)
- Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 or 1662 AD)
- Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD)
Interesting Ancient Chinese Dynasties Facts
- The last Chinese dynasty was the Qing Dynasty which ended in 1911 with the Chinese Revolution (Xinhai Revolution) which resulted in the formation of the Republic of China.
- The last emperor of China was Puyi. He was the last ruler of the Qing Dynasty. An interesting fact is that he became ruler when he was three years old.
- The first three Chinese dynasties, the Xia, Shang, and Zhou, are often referred to as the "3 holy dynasties".
- The first dynasty established in China was the Xia Dynasty. Most of what is known about this early dynasty comes from legends.
- Qin Shi Huang ruler of the Qin Dynasty became the first emperor of a unified China.