Chinese civilization has endured for thousands of years, held fast by the notion of unity, and challenged by the constant struggle to maintain it. To understand this notion, how it evolved, and why it has endured for thousands of years, is to understand the very essence of Chinese civilization.
For 3,500 years, China was ruled by a succession of kings, emperors, and their respective dynasties. The dynastic years were a time of repeated fragmentation and reunification, with frequent wars followed by periods of peace that sometimes lasted for centuries. As each dynasty came to power, it strove to expand and maintain its power over a vast territory of diverse lands and peoples until it ultimately failed and another dynasty took power. Despite constant political turmoil and frequent wars, Chinese culture and civilization flourished and took shape during the dynastic years. Each dynasty left behind a unique legacy, whether in the form of cultural and artistic achievements; new religions and philosophies; or innovative ideas about government, society, military strategy, and economy. Together, they form the foundations of Chinese civilization.
This curriculum unit introduces students to the first 2,500 years of Chinese history and offers students an in-depth view of Chinese civilization from the nascent years of the Shang Dynasty through the golden age of the Tang Dynasty.
Lesson One introduces students to the important events, people, and achievements of the Shang Dynasty, (1600-1050 BCE).
Lesson Two introduces students to the important ideas and philosophies of the Zhou Dynasty (1050-256 BCE).
Lesson Three introduces students to the accomplishments of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE).
Lesson Four introduces students to the significant events, people, ideas, and achievements of the Han Dynasty (202 BCE-220 CE) .
Lesson Five introduces students to the events, social issues, and religions of the Six Dynasties (220-581 CE).
Lesson Six introduces students to the Sui and Tang Dynasties (581-907 CE). Students learn how the short-lived Sui Dynasty laid the foundation for the Tang Dynasty's great success, longevity, and cultural achievements.
The Conclusion engages students in a culminating time capsule activity that requires them to draw upon what they have learned in all six lessons.