Chinese History – Easy to read

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Yangtze River, China - a wide, green river with green plants growing on the banks

Yangtze River, 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. By around 8000 BC, these people were starting to farm rice, and by 6000 BC they kept sheep and chickens.

By about 3000 BC, people in China were using pottery and living in houses. Soon afterward they learned from Central Asian people how to use horses to pull wheeled chariots.

stone carving of people hunting

Zhou dynasty hunting scene, Luoyang (ca. 1000 BC)

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.

About 1100 BC, the Zhou dynasty conquered China. 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.

Map shows Han Dynasty China, the Mauryan Empire, the Sogdians, Tibet, and the Parthian Empire

Map of Asia in the time of the Han Dynasty

In 221 BC, the Ch’in dynasty succeeded in putting China back together again. They made China even bigger than it had ever been before, and they built the Great Wall of China. But the Ch’in 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.

Learn by Doing – China History Bingo

Bibliography and further reading about China:

More Chinese history
Ancient China

By |2018-04-25T12:10:40+00:00June 6th, 2017|China, History|5 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Chinese History – Easy to read. Study Guides, June 6, 2017. Web. August 15, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. Me April 16, 2018 at 9:50 am - Reply

    doesnt help with any studies not helpful

    • Karen Carr April 16, 2018 at 10:07 am

      What were you trying to find out? I’d be happy to answer your questions.

  2. liqiddeppre February 7, 2018 at 7:00 am - Reply

    nice…. helps studies

  3. abe February 6, 2018 at 7:04 am - Reply


    • Karen Carr February 6, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Glad we could help! (It says, “This is very good”)

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