When did people first come to China?
Modern humans first came to China from Central Asia and/or India about 50,000 BC. These were Stone Age people, who lived in caves with their dogs and wore fur and leather. They hunted and gathered their food. Around 14,000 BC they started to make pottery jars. They were the first people in the world to make pottery.
The Bronze Age in Chinese history
Soon after 3000 BC, people in China learned from Central Asian people how to use horses to pull wheeled chariots. By 2000 BC, Chinese people had entered the Bronze Age and had started to use writing. Soon afterwards, about 1800 BC, the Shang Dynasty conquered most of China and ruled it under one Emperor. From this point on, people measure most Chinese history in dynasties – one family of related rulers.
The Iron Age in Chinese history
About 1100 BC, the Zhou dynasty conquered China. They learned to fight from horseback instead of from chariots. Then China’s army needed a lot more horses, and China started to trade more with Central Asia, selling silk cloth to get horses.
By about 700 BC, Chinese metal-workers learned to make iron tools and weapons. This was the time of Confucius. But beginning in 481 BC, China fell apart into many little Warring States that fought each other.
Who built the Great Wall of China?
Han Dynasty China
But the Qin dynasty only lasted a short time before the Han dynasty took over in 202 BC. The Han dynasty was very successful. They traded along the Silk Road with the Sogdians, and bought things from as far away as the Parthians, the Roman Empire, and East Africa. They invaded India and brought back Buddhism to China. But by 220 AD, China had fallen apart again.