February 20, 2010

The Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE)

The Qin dynasty was very short, yet of great importance. The founder, Qin Shihuangdi, established centralized rule and divided China into provinces. He relied on his own loyal servants to rule the provinces rather than established nobility and disarmed regional military forces.

Qin Shihuangdi standardized laws, currencies, weights and measures. This united the country and greatly improved trade. He also standardized script in such a way that people speaking two different languages would be still be able to read the same word with the same meaning.

Harsh punishments were used to squash dissent, such as the execution of people who criticized him or his regime. Shihuangdi did not like learning or academics. He ordered 460 scholars to be buried alive and required the burning of all literary, ethical and history books.

In his tomb, a myriad of terracotta wariors, horses and chariots were discovered buried underground. In addition, numerous servants and builders of the tomb, and many of his concubines were also buried with him. The terracotta figures were found broken apart and each one was had to be pieced back together.

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