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The Qin Dynasty lasted from 221 to 207 BCE and was the first dynasty of the Chinese Empire. Despite its short rule, the dynasty saw many notable advances and achievements. The dynasty’s greatest achievement was unifying China after its years in the Warring States Period. Interestingly, the word Qin (pronounced Chin) is where the name China was derived from. Its founder, Qin Shi Huang, was also the first Chinese Emperor. This name was self-given, with Qin coming from the dynasty name, and the latter meaning First Emperor. Its decline began after the death of Qi Shi Huang, as most of the empire had revolted against his successor, Hu Hai.
See the fact file below for more information on the Qin Dynasty or alternatively, you can download our 28-page The Qin Dynasty worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Ancient China was one of the longest lasting and oldest civilizations in the history of the world. Along with Mesopotamia, Indus, and Egypt, China is one of the four great civilizations of the ancient world with its history dating back to more than 4,000 years ago. Today, located in the eastern part of Asia, it is the most populated country in the world.
THE RIGHT TO RULE
- The word dynasty comes from the Latin word dynastia, from dynastéia (δυναστεία), meaning “power”, “dominion”, or “rule”.
- A dynasty is a sequence of rulers from one family over a long period of time. The head of the family generally becomes the king or emperor of the land. When they die, a different member of the family, usually the eldest son, inherits the role. A new dynasty starts when a different family rules.
- The Chinese believed that a ruler’s right to be king or emperor was given by the Mandate of Heaven, which signified the gods blessing a person with the right to rule. This was given through the ownership of the Nine Tripod Cauldrons cast in the Xia Dynasty.
- To keep the Mandate of Heaven, the ruler had to be just and good. A ruler or dynasty losing its power meant that the ruler must also have lost the Mandate of Heaven. One who has the Mandate of Heaven is called the Son of Heaven.
ANCIENT CHINESE KINGDOMS
- Xia Dynasty (2070–1600 BCE): Little is known about the Xia Dynasty, possibly the first dynasty in Ancient China. Its name and most of its history could possibly be legend only. The Xia dynasty supposedly consisted of clans living along the Yellow River.
- Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BCE): The Shang ruled along the Yellow River. The dynasty’s capital was Yin, its territory reaching the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. Jade articles and bronze objects from the Shang Dynasty dating back to 1600 BCE have been found to support its early archaeological records, being the first dynasty to still have remaining historical records.
- Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC): The Zhou Dynasty was the first to use the Mandate of Heaven to justify their family’s rule. This era was divided into three periods: the first was around 1045-771 BCE and called the Western Zhou. It was a peaceful time before the king lost authority in 770 BCE, and the Zhou territory was divided into seven federal states governed by kings. The king was left with direct control over a small region of land and received tributes from the states.
- This was followed by the Spring and Autumn Period from 770-476 BCE. This was when Confucius, a philosopher and politician, lived and became part of China’s history for the emergence of his philosophy, Confucianism.
- Many years after Confucius’ death, his teachings were still adopted in the government.
- Last was the Warring States Period in 475-221 BCE.
- Qin Dynasty (221–207 BCE): This was the beginning of the Chinese Empire, when Qin Shi Huangdi became the first Chinese Emperor. Though a considerably short period, many advances were made during this era, and used in future dynasties.
- Han Dynasty (206–220 BCE): The Han Dynasty was known for connecting China with Central Asia and Europe by starting the Silk Road trade. The dynasty established a bureaucratic system and adopted Confucianism to create an organized government. It is considered one of the most powerful and important dynasties in China’s history.
- China’s Dark Ages (220–581 CE): This was a period when China was not in unison under a single leader. As the Han Dynasty ended, the Three Kingdoms Period (220–265 CE) and the Jin Dynasty (265–420 CE) began. China was again fractured into the Southern and Northern Dynasties in 420–589 CE. The emergence of different religions occurred in this time, Buddhism being one of the most prominent.
- Sui Dynasty (581–618): The Sui Dynasty unified the rest of China and had great accomplishments, such as building the Great Canal and rebuilding the Great Wall. Many of the period’s government institutions were also integrated in later dynasties.
- Tang Dynasty (618–907): Also known as the Golden Age of China as arts, literature, poetry, tri-colored glazed pottery, and woodblock printing flourished. A rebellion occurred as some regions refused to follow the state’s authority, ending the era.
- Five Dynasties (907–960): This was a period of division ushered in by the rebellion that ended the Tang Dynasty.
- Song Dynasty (960–1279): The Song Dynasty was a period of great technological and scientific advances, with the invention of gunpowder, paper, printing, and the compass.
- Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368): Kublai Khan, a Mongol ruler and grandson of Genghis Khan, founded the Yuan Dynasty after defeating the Song in war. Dadu, modern-day Beijing, was made its capital. Trade, technological advances, and China’s introduction continued in this rule.
- Ming Dynasty (1368–1644): The Ming came into power by overthrowing the Mongols and began the last ethnic Chinese dynasty, the Ming Dynasty. The Great Wall was finished and the Forbidden City was built in this period. It fell into decline due to natural disasters and unfair governance leading to rebellions.
- Qing Dynasty (1644–1912): The Qing Dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in Chinese history. It is known for its forced trade, and became a semi-colonial, semi-imperial country after the First Opium War in 1839. Modern China’s territory was established at this time.
ORIGINS OF QIN DYNASTY
- The last period of the Zhou Dynasty was known as the Warring States Period which divided China into seven federal states: Qin, Chu, Zhao, Wei, Han, Yan, and Qi.
- The Warring States Period lasted from 475 to 221 BCE.
- Qin Ying, also known as Feizi and believed to be a descendent of Gao Yao, an ancient political advisor, was given rule over the city of Qin. It stands today as the city of Tianshui. It became known as the state of Qin under the rule of King Xiao of Zhou, the eighth king of the Zhou Dynasty, and became an area allotted for breeding and raising horses in 897 BCE.
- Qin Ying’s descendant Duke Zhuang was favored by King Ping of Zhou, thirteenth king of the Zhou Dynasty, and sent as a leader of a war expedition eastward. This was when he formally established the Qin.
- In 672 BCE, the Qin state began a military expedition into Central China, though not engaging in serious invasions, wary of neighboring tribesmen.
- In 256 BCE, King Zhao of Qin’s forces conquered West Zhou by defeating King Nan of Zhou, claiming the Nine Cauldrons, therefore symbolically becoming the Son of Heaven. However, his rule ended in 251 BCE, and his son King Xiaowen who succeeded him died merely three days after the coronation.
- He was then succeeded by his son King Zhuangxiang of Qin. Seven years after the fall of West Zhou, King Zhuangxiang conquered East Zhou, which led to the end of the 800-year Zhou dynasty.
- For three years, King Zhuangxiang of Qin ruled Qin, and was succeeded by his son Ying Zheng in 246 BCE at the young age of 13 years.
- King Zheng founded the Qin Dynasty in 221 BCE, and gave himself the title “Qin Shi Huangdi” or “Qin Shi Huang”, meaning “Qin (dynasty name) First Emperor’, therefore becoming the First Emperor of Qin.
- The self-invented title “emperor” would continue to be used by Chinese rulers for the next two millennia.
- The beginning of the Qin Dynasty was caused by the downfall of China’s longest-ruling regime. Qin Shi Huang and his Qin state united China by conquering the other warring states and uniting them under imperial government over a span of nine years.
FEATURES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Qin Dynasty was unifying China. As Qin Shi Huang conquered a vast territory with various cultures and languages, he worked to unify his people.
- To do this, he worked on the standardization of a non-alphabetic written script replacing previous regional scripts, so that words with the same meaning in the country’s different languages would be written using the same characters. This was implemented in all of China. An imperial academy was also founded to oversee all texts.
- Weights and measures were also standardized. Bronze models for measurements were cast and sent to local governments to make trade and commerce easier across the regions.
- Bronze coins were also created to standardize money across China.
- The Straight Road was created, and became the pathway for the transportation of materials for the Great Wall of China.
- 300,000 workers were tasked with transporting the materials and constructing the Great Wall. It is regarded as the longest fortification in the world at 21,196 kilometers in length.
- For every new conquest made, a replica of the defeated state’s ruling palace was constructed along the Wei River, across Qin Shi Huang’s palace. Singing girls from the conquered states were also brought in from the conquered states.
- Weapons from Qin triumphs were gathered, melted down, and cast into sculptures in the capital, Xianyang.
- Qin Shi Huang’s tomb was designed as an underground city that he would rule in the afterlife.
- It included bronze sculptures, animal burial grounds, chambers and halls, administrative buildings, temples, and a replica of the imperial armory.
- 700,000 workers were sent to build Qin Shi Huang’s tomb at the foot of the Lishan Mountains. Laborers consisted of craftsmen, prisoners, and people working to repay debts, and having no money to pay the fine for their violations, they were tasked with building the mausoleum.
- Historical records indicate that the mausoleum led to the deaths of many due to hardship during its construction, and all workers were buried with the emperor to keep the secret of the tomb with them.
- The tomb was still in construction by the time of the emperor’s death in 210 BCE. It is regarded as one of China’s most important archaeological finds by UNESCO.
- The Terracotta Army is a depiction of the emperor’s forces in his tomb created with the purpose of protecting him in the afterlife.
- They were life-size statues of around 8,000 terracotta warriors, 600 terracotta horses, chariots with horses, and cavalry horses. There were also figures of entertainers.
END OF QIN DYNASTY
- Qin Shi Huang’s death occurred while traveling in eastern China in 210 BCE. In an effort to keep his death secret, the officials traveling with him had 10 carts filled with fish travel with them to hide the stench of his corpse.
- They forged a letter from the late emperor to be sent to the crown prince, ordering him to commit suicide. Fu Su, the crown prince, did as ordered in the letter. This allowed the officials to crown Qin Er Shi or Hu Hai, the eighteenth son of Qin Shi Huang.
- However, most of the empire revolted against Hu Hai two years later. Xiang Yu, a Chinese rebel leader, triumphed against the Qin army in battle, killed the emperor, destroyed the capital, and fractured the empire into 18 states. Liu Bang, in control of Han in Western China, revolted for three years against Xiang Yu. Xiang Yu took his own life in 202 BCE, and Liu Bang founded the Han Dynasty and became its first emperor.
The Qin Dynasty Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Qin Dynasty across 28 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Qin Dynasty worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Qin Dynasty which lasted from 221 to 207 BCE and was the first dynasty of the Chinese Empire. Despite its short rule, the dynasty saw many notable advances and achievements. The dynasty’s greatest achievement was unifying China after its years in the Warring States Period. Interestingly, the word Qin (pronounced Chin) is where the name China was derived from. Its founder, Qin Shi Huang, was also the first Chinese Emperor. This name was self-given, with Qin coming from the dynasty name, and the latter meaning First Emperor. Its decline began after the death of Qi Shi Huang, as most of the empire had revolted against his successor, Hu Hai.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Qin Dynasty Fact File
- Legalism: Pros and Cons
- Qin Achievements
- Qin Questions
- Determine the Dynasty
- Terracotta Army
- The First Emperor
- Success of Squander?
- Legacy to Last
- Depicting a Dynasty
- Qin Inventions
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.