The Han Dynasty

The Han Dynasty was one of the great dynasties of Ancient China. Much of Chinese culture was established during the Han dynasty, which is sometimes called the Golden Age of Ancient China. It was an era of peace and prosperity that allowed China to expand into a major world power.

The Han Dynasty ruled for over 400 years, from 206 BC to 220 AD. It was the second Imperial dynasty after the Qin Dynasty.

The Han Dynasty began with a peasant revolt led by Liu Bang, son of a peasant family. Once the Qin Emperor was killed there was a war for four years between Liu Bang and his rival Xiang Yu. Liu Bang won the war and became emperor. He changed his name to Han Gaozu and established the Han Dynasty.

One of the first things that Emperor did was to establish the civil service. He gathered educated men to help him run the empire. Later Han emperors established examinations and schools to make sure that only the most intelligent men would run the government. This method of government ran for over 2,000 years.

The period of the Han Dynasty was a time of invention and science. One of the most important inventions was paper. Paper allowed the government to easily keep records and pass on instructions throughout the empire. Other important inventions include iron casting, crop rotation, and acupuncture as well as advancements in medicine, mathematics, building, agriculture, engineering, and astronomy.

A trade route from China to Europe, called the Silk Road, was a great source of wealth and luxury items. The biggest products in the Han economy were iron, salt, copper work, and silk.

Social status was very rigid. There were 20 ranks of status and each level had increased privileges. Merchants were ranked low while craftsmen, doctors, and farmers were ranked fairly high.

Many people lived in the cities. The rich lived in big houses that were finely decorated with carpets and art. They wore silk robes and were well educated. Life in the city was difficult for the poor who lived in crowded houses and often went without food. Life in the countryside was better for the peasants. They had to work hard, but they generally had food and shelter. Taxes were reduced during the Han Dynasty and people who tilled the soil were often respected. Merchants were generally not respected, but they were able to become rich as trade expanded due to the Silk Road and general peace in the country. Laws were made to make merchants wear white clothes and pay high taxes.

Buddhism first came to China during this time.

Source: The Han Dynasty
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