THE QIN DYNASTY
The Qin came to power in 221 B.C.E and lasted until 207 B.C.E., a dynasty
that is recorded to be the shortest in China's history, in part because
its rulers were attempting to create an empire in a short period of
time, at the expense of its peasants and slaves, and created tensions
that lead to the dynasty's downfall. They were one of the western states
that existed during the Warring States Period. They conquered the other
Warring States, unifying China for the first time. Their leader named
himself the First Emperor, or Shi huangdi, thus beginning the tradition
of having emperors for rulers. The Qin, while not the most culturally
advanced, were militarily powerful. They utilized many new technologies
in warfare, especially cavalry. The Qin are sometimes called the Ch'in,
which is probably where the name China originated.
Nobody had known the significance of the Qin until the late 20th Century
(1974), with the spectacular archeological discovery of a life size army
of 7500 terracotta military figures, guarding the tomb of Shi huangdi
(the First Emperor). There is an assumption that the terracotta army
replaced the real military figures that had been buried with its rulers.
The terracotta soldiers were fitted with real weapons, chariots, pottery
The achievements of the Qin are numerous. They standardized the language
and writing of China, This was necessary for nobility to communicate
across the country; administrators had to be able to read the writing of
the commands to which they were sent. Also, currency became
standardized as a circular copper coin with a square hole in the middle.
Weights and Measurements were also made uniform, especially for
Moreover, The Qin established several public works projects. The Great
Wall was built in the north, to protect against invasions. From the
capital, A 500 mile highway called Straight Road, and the building of
several imperial roadways covering over 4200 miles in length were
completed. To ship grain and other foodstuffs from the mountains to the
West River, a 3-mile wide canal covering 1250 miles was dug and to this
day, the canal is still utilized.
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