History of Far East

This page tells about the history of the Far East.

Indus Civilization

One of the most highly developed urban communities in the world emerged in the lower valley of the river Indus in modern day Pakistan. Indus settlements were marked by some of the most advanced plumbing and drainage systems in the world had brick lined sewers running under the streets. Since some of the writing has yet to be deciphered, many important questions about the Indus civilization has yet to be answered, no weaponry has yet to be found, nor any evidence of organized religion.

There is no explanation of the sudden collapse of the Indus civilization around 1500 BC.

Early Chinese Civilization

The earliest form of Chinese civilization, known as the Xia dynasty left very few clues as to their existence. But were believed to have existed around 2100 BC in the Yellow River valley. The Shang dynasty which was based near modern Anyang (Yinxu) from 1766 BC is better understood as a result of inscriptions on more than 100,000 tortoiseshells. Shang people tried to predict by heating the bones and shells of animals (know as orack bones), which are the earliest known records of Chinese writing. By 1500 BC, the Shang dynasty was flourishing and advances included the casting of bronzes, sacred vessels and weapons, the development of sophisticated writing system and the intricate carving of Jade and Ivory. In about 1046 BC, the rulers of the Zhou dynasty took over from the Shang rulers that survived for 800 years, the longest lived dynasty in Chinese history.

Far East

Buddhism

The Buddhist faith came from teachings of Siddarth Gautama born in 563 BC in northern India. He came from a wealthy background but gave up all his money when he was 29 and live as a beggar so he could search for the meaning of life. In 528 BC he sat beneath a bodhi tree and became enlightened. He then became a teacher. The theme of a teaching was Buddhism. He thought that only by giving up selfish desire can one be released from the endless cycle of birth and rebirth. He became known as Buddha meaning the Enlightened One. Monks speared his teaching throughout India. India and China became trade partners and Buddhism spread to China.

Buddhism spread to Korea in the fourth century and then later to Japan. Then Buddhism declined in India and was replaced by Hinduism.

The Golden Age of India

The Maurya and Gupta Empire

From 321 to 185 BC,  the Maurya empire was the largest and most powerful empire in India. It was the first example of the state system and was founded Chandragupta Maurya. He also conquered Afghanistan and Pakistan. After beating Alexander the Great, former general Mayrya's son and grandson then took over and promoted Buddhism. After the grandson's death, Chandragupta I enlarged the empire to include the most of India. The Gupta Dynasty was often called the golden age of India because art, architecture and literature flourished during long periods of peace and prosperity large palaces and temples were built. Major literature was written in Sanskrit which were crucial development of Hinduism which are still told in Asia today. The Guptas invented the Arabic method of writing numbers, the decimal numerical system and concept of zero. The Gupta empire collapsed in the sixth century.

The Qin and Han Dynasties of China and Confucius

From 485 to 221 BC, China was divided into competing kingdoms. The Kingdom of Qin from which the name China is derived was the first united China empire. They established a system of writing and weights and measures. They built a great wall of China and statues of the army. Performing arts flourished and so did painting and sculpture. Advances were in made science and technology including the invention of paper, seismograph and compass. The borders encompassed Korea, Vietnam and route known as the Silk route a road carried silks to the western world. Chinese philosopher Confucius emphasized moderation and  virtue over individual gain.

References

  • The History of the World in Bite-Sized Chunks. Marriott, Emma. MJF Books. New York. 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-60671-187-3