Ancient Chinese Civilization


The Ancient Chinese Civilization originated around 4000 B.C. from Neolithic farming communities along the great Yellow River in the North China Plain. Each season, the Yellow River would flood the coastal plain, forcing the farmers to built levees to hold back the flood waters. They also built canals to bring water to their fields. This was the beginning of technology in China. Because of the farmers’ success, the population of the area grew. The hard work of these ancient China’s farmers also allowed powerful kingdoms to develop throughout China.

In 1700B.C, a kingdom called Shang dynasty grew along the Yellow River, thus marking China’s completion of the transition from Neolithic culture to civilization.

Social Structure

– top of the social structure and rules over all the people

– relation to the imperial family or people who gained status through military accomplishments

– battling raiding tribes, conquering land and bringing people under Chinese rule

– government servants, people highly educated

– lower class people, produce food for society

– people who trade goods and etc.

The social structure in Ancient China is influenced greatly by military positions. That was why military technology at that time was far advanced, allowing the civilization to conquer more cities which were the centres of trades and government. It is also proved that Ancient China was a civilian government as The Great Wall of China, The Silk Road and Terracotta Warriors were resemblance of military purposes. The emperor was at the top of the social structure; he was the head of the Chinese army and was looked up upon as a ruler.

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Emperors were usually the heirs who were the first son or favourite son of the previous emperor. The emperor’s position was vital to the nation because it kept the people safe and secure from raiders. The nobles were family members of the emperor or people who gained social status through military accomplishments like generals in the army. They were also rich and powerful land owners. Soldiers were next in the social status as it depended on them to drive out raiding armies and conquer more land for the empire. Without them, the empire would face the threat of getting conquered by foreigners. Officials were scholars who passed the Confucian exams that allowed them to become civil servants. They greatly influenced the difficult decisions made by the emperor. The peasants were the lower class in society but were quite important as they produced food for the community. The lowest class were the merchants. This was because they hardly contributed anything to society and all they did were trade goods.

The Chinese had developed many interesting and unique cultural practices such as foot

binding, acupuncture, ancestor worship, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and many others. It is believed that isolation produced the origin of China’s culture. Foot binding is the process of wrapping the feet with silk binding to bend the toes under, break the bones and force the back of the foot together. It is a very painful process but it was the symbols of health, wealth and fertility to the Chinese. Whereas, acupuncture is a form of treatment for chronic illnesses by inserting fine, thin needles into acupuncture points known as the meridians. Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism are the three most important philosophies/religions of Ancient China. Every Chinese were being influenced by them. Besides, capable people had to sit for Confucian examinations to get official posts to help keep the emperor in power of the kingdom.

Through the early civilization, ancient China already enjoyed a developed and advanced

agriculture and irrigation system and advanced painting, pottery and botanical knowledge before occupying a leading position in science and technology through its independent tradition of medicine,

and its four great inventions, namely, the compass, gunpowder, printing and paper making. They also kept the most detailed and earliest astronomical records and astronomical observatory apparatus. Cast iron was also produced on an industrial scale. However all these and other important discoveries were held back by the country’s feudal bureaucratic system from making further progress and prevented them from developing modern science and technology.

Many of these inventions and discoveries are being used by the modern world today. Ancient China’s interesting and unique practices are also still being practiced by the people all over the world. Take for example the practice of ‘qi-kong’ the art of inhaling and exhaling with specific body movements for blood circulation.

Throughout the reign of different dynasties, the culture of Ancient China did change especially during the Mongolians and Manchurians rule. The Chinese nobility were not allowed to be part of the government and were also not allowed to trade with the outside world or to learn any other languages, the people were forced to change their clothes and hairstyle. Chinese men were required to shave their heads and wear queues whereas the women were forbidden to bind their feet. For instance, the now famous national dress for woman known as Qipao or cheongsam was originally the Court dress of the Manchurian ladies.

Rebellions and uprisings during the Manchurians rule gradually weakened the empire. In about 1800’s, Britain started to trade with China. They were interested in silk and tea but have nothing suitable to trade except opium. Many in China got addicted to opium causing the deterioration of China’s economy. War broke out between China and Britain when China banned opium from coming into the country causing the empire to weaken even more. With the British winning the war and more uprisings, the last dynasty finally collapsed marking the end of the oldest and greatest civilization in history.

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Ancient Chinese Civilization. (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

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