Achievements: Around 300 BC the first copper coins (money) are created in China and become widely used as currency. However, the rapid spread of Iron Working techniques during the Warring States period would lead Iron to dominate production and Military Affairs.
The name Warring States Period was derived from the Record of the Warring States, a work compiled early in the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 221 AD) long after the Warring States Period had ended.
The Family has always been considered by the Chinese as the fundamental unit of their society. In the "Spring and Autumn Period" of the Zhou Dynasty era "Filial Piety" had been praised by the sage Confucius and thinkers of all schools took for granted that a well-run family was one in which parents looked out for the interests of their children, and in return children obeyed their parents and supported them in their old age. In the Han Dynasty period the exaltation of Confucius as a superior thinker and especially the practice of Filial Piety was carried to new heights. In the Han Dynasty Era men could be made officials of the Empire, if they had an outstanding reputation of filial piety. Thus, the early Confucian scripture known as the "Classic of Filial Piety" was probably and most likely first produced during the Han Dynasty. It remains well read today.
The "Classic of Filial Piety" is a book that purports to describe conversations between the Sage Master Confucius and his pupil Zeng Zi, dealing at length with matters involving adherence to tradition and respect for the elders and family affairs.
In the Han Dynasty, Confucianism also became more politicized, with filial piety clearly developed as a political virtue. In the Han Dynasty Confucian theory was further developed and was taken to include a role for the Emperor as the ultimate father of the Nation, and (hopefully) benevolent father tending to his flock of children and earning love and respect in return. The Classic of Filial Piety was thus used as an instrument of State Building and was widely used throughout the Era by scholars, but also as a toll for teaching children the basic moral dogma's and according rules of the society they were growing up in.
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Summary History of the Han Dynasty
Summary of History, Rulers, Main Events and Achievements. 206 BC - 221 AD
This page was last updated on: September 16, 2017
This page was last updated on: September 16, 2017
The preceding Dynastic Period : The Qin Dynasty 221 BC to 207 BC
You Tube Video: The Rise and Fall o/t Western Han Dynasty (220 BC - 9 AD).
In accordance with the strengthening of Confucianism as State Doctrine the development of trade was by and large discouraged during the Han Dynasty. On the ladder of rank within Society, traders were seen as people who were easily seduced by money and the evil effects that came with it (in today's terms one would say: Confucianists were in principle against whole-sale Capitalism), and thus they were seen as a lower caste, regardless of the wealth these traders sometimes acquired. This was only in principle however, in reality trade was necessary evil. However, Confucian scholars preferred to see it only as a means of distributing (the ownership of) tools and necessary household items such as pottery, or agricultural tools and seeds for sowing. Confucian scholars frowned heavily upon the unlimited acquisition of wealth, and they placed a heavy accent on social responsibility. Social benevolence and philanthropy were considered essential for those in high positions, and became a means of promotion within the ranks.
Meanwhile, private traders did exists throughout the Empire finding considerable tolerance among the elite classes. Money equaled substantial power in Han society.
During the succesful reign of Emperor Wu Di (156 B.C. – 87 B.C.) of the Han Dynasty Era, an Imperial Monopoly on Iron and Salt was announced, dealing a heavy blow to the private cartels which had earlier amassed considerable profits from this trade, and speculations in times of scarcity. The decision to impose the Imperial monopoly had various reasons among which the need to gain revenue needed for the mobilizing of armies in defense of the ever hazardous northern border regions. Contrary to expectations however, the new system of gaining state revenue through trade in salt and iron was taken as an affront by the Confucian scholar gentry at large, leading - after the death of Wu Di - to a deep political crisis within the Empire. That is, according to Confucianism trade was a morally abject occupation and therefor the State could and should in no way engage in such activities itself. The State was the Emperor, so how could the Emperor be a teacher, model and benevolent Father if at the same time he engaged in this lowly activity. Although eventually the Emperor helped by his Chief Minister prevailed over the Confucian scholars, the social turmoil caused by the debate significantly weakened state cohesion for a long time there after and resistance among the workers of the state administrative apparatus simmered for years.
With the growth of state revenue through the management of the sale and distribution of salt and iron, the later Emperors of the Han Dynasty were able to train and organize their armies successfully, better defending the border than before. However, for a long time - in fact through the Han Dynasty and long there after - Xiong Nu, nomadic tribes from the north still raided successfully into Han Dynasty territory as before.
During the Han Dynasty period, a second version of what today is known as the Great Wall of China was built in the northern border regions, as well as along the path leading westward to what would gradually become the beginning of the famous "Silk Road" trading pathways into Central Asia. The "Great Wall" of the Han Dynasty was however by no means a continuous wall as it is said to have been built during the preceding Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 207 B.C). The Qin Great Wall was made of rammed earth and it said to have crumbled and turned to dust in mere decades, thus in the militarily expansive Han Dynasty, the Chinese relied more on a system of watchtowers and fire-beacons in order to increase response time and help communications needed to organize a fast counter offensive. Nevertheless, substantial lengths of Han Dynasty Era Great Wall of China remains exist, mainly in the far western regions of China known as the Hexi Corridor in Gansu Province. At the time of the Han Dynasty this was a crucial stretch of territory needed for international trade of silks and other wares, thus it became fairly well protected, and parts of mud wall and crumbling fire beacons can be seen stretched along the way. Mind you, some 1200 or more kilometers. For the people and travelers of the time, it was a remarkable improvement opening routes that were previously hazardous and near impossible to travel. Furthermore, the "Wall" along the road served as a clear demarcation of territory and also helped in keeping the citizenry of the border territories within the realm. Under the Qin Dynasty life in the border regions was so harsh, and the people so extorted by their Emperor that they often fled to try their luck with the enemy tribes on the plains. In the Han Dynasty this problem was gradually solved by increased patrols.
The earliest surviving Chinese medical texts are fragments of manuscripts found in Tombs dating to the Han Dynasty Era. Besides general theory, these texts cover drugs, gymnastics, minor surgery and also magic spells.
The medical text which was to become the main source of medical theory throughout ancient Chinese history also is estimated to date back to the Han Dynasty Era. This book is know as the "Book of the Yellow Emperor" or more officially the "Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine". Although the book purports to have been written some 3000 years B.C. by the mythical Yellow Emperor himself, this is clearly not the case.
The Golden Reign period of Emperor Wu Di of Han:
In the year 168 B.C. during the Han Dynasty, a tomb was sealed at Mausoleum site near the City of Changsha, today the Capital of Hunan Province. When rediscovered in the year 1973, the tomb was found to contain a collection of priceless ancient books among them various early versions of known Chinese texts, medical works and also a fabulous star chart, a listing of comet sightings by Chinese astronomer observers going back well over a 1000 years before the date of the tombs sealing. Among the texts found in what today is most populary known as the Mwangdui Silk Texts ( 馬王堆帛書), the star charts provide invaluable information including mentions of the appearance of an extraordinary bright celestial object (comet) in the year 1468 BC (during the Shang Dynasty Era) which may have been the brightest comet seen in human history.