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History of Imperial China

The history of Imperial China spans from the beginning of the Qin dynasty in 221 BC to the end of the Qing dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China in 1912 AD.

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Spring Outing of the Tang Court, by Zhang Xuan (713–755)
The Tang dynasty (Chinese: 唐朝; pinyin: Táng Cháo; Middle Chinese: dhɑng) (18 June 618–4 June 907) was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. It was founded by the Li (李) family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire. The dynasty was interrupted briefly by the Second Zhou Dynasty (16 October 690–3 March 705) when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, becoming the first and only Chinese empress regnant, ruling in her own right.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), the most populous city in the world at the time, is regarded by historians as a high point in Chinese civilization — equal to or surpassing that of the earlier Han dynasty — as well as a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, was greater than that of the Han period, and rivaled that of the later Yuan dynasty and Qing dynasty. The enormous Grand Canal of China, built during the previous Sui dynasty, facilitated the rise of new urban settlements along its route, as well as increased trade between mainland Chinese markets. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records stated that the population (by number of registered households) was about 50 million people. (read more...)

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Zhang Heng.jpg
Zhang Heng (Chinese: 張衡; pinyin: Zhāng Héng; Wade–Giles: Chang Heng) (AD 78139) was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, geographer, cartographer, artist, poet, statesman, and literary scholar of the Eastern Han Dynasty in ancient China. He had extensive knowledge of mechanics and gears, applying this knowledge to several of his known inventions. He is best known for inventing the world's first water-powered armillary sphere to represent astronomical observation, improving the inflow clepsydra clock with an additional tank, and inventing the world's first seismometer device, which discerned the cardinal direction of earthquakes from incredibly far distances. In addition to writing an extensive star catalogue, Zhang also posited theories about the moon and its relationship to the sun, specifically the moon's sphericity, its illumination by reflecting sunlight, and solar and lunar eclipses. (read more...)

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