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Facts on Ancient China's Civilization for Kids

by Amy M. Armstrong, studioD

Ancient China was a land of mystery to the rest of the world. Little communication with the outside world meant Chinese civilization and culture was left alone to develop and flourish. By the time European explorers entered China, its written language was established, its medical community had advanced knowledge of the human circulatory system and engineers were mastering the use of natural gas a heating source.


Ancient Chinese civilization was cut off from the rest of the world. Its geographical location on some of the world's most fertile lands of the East China Plain is surrounded by immense deserts and high mountains to the west, impassable jungles to the south, vast steppe ranges with frigid climates and no vegetation to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Because the fertile lands of the East China Plain produced plenty of food, the peoples settled there had little reason to leave and significant natural obstacles to deter them from doing so.

Settled Along Rivers

As is the case with many ancient civilizations, what would later become the Chinese civilization began next to rivers. Nomadic peoples from Central Asia and India migrated to the fertile lands of China and began creating settlements around 4,000 B.C. In the north, the regular flooding of the Yellow River deposited rich soil for farmers to grow millet -- a mildly sweet grain that the people ate. In the south, regular flooding of the Yangtze River supported rice fields.


Ancient Chinese civilization is credited with many inventions that remain in use. Many of those inventions were in use in China long before European civilizations discovered them. Those inventions include paper, silk, matches, wheelbarrows, gunpowder, the decimal system, waterwheels, sundials, porcelain dishes, lacquer paints, pottery wheels, fireworks, paper money, the compass, the seismograph, dominoes, jump ropes, kites, tea ceremonies, folding umbrellas, ink, calligraphy, animal harnesses, suspension bridges, playing cards, printing, wallpaper, crossbows and even ice cream, according to the Kids Konnect website highlighting a report on ancient China.


The people of ancient China kept the methods of producing silk from silkworms a closely guarded secret for centuries. They first began making this soft cloth around 3,000 B.C. Smuggling silkworm eggs or cocoons out of China was punishable by death. Europeans learned of silk when the Roman empire expanded east. Merchants began sending caravans along what later became known as the Silk Road to China to obtain silk.

Dynasty Government

Dynasty-style government dominated ancient China from abou t1,800 B.C. when the Shang Dynasty conquered most of China. A dynasty is a type of government run by a family of rulers closely related to one another. The rulers are often very cruel to and demanding of their subjects. When one dynasty defeated another, many people were killed in the battles. Dynasty rule remained in effect in China until 1912 when the Republic of China defeated the Ch'ing Dynasty.

Great Wall Of China

The first emperor of this ancient civilization believed a wall was necessary to protect China from nomadic tribes living in the steppe region north of China in Mongolia. These nomads often raided northern Chinese villages. The first sections of the wall were built between 220 and 206 B.C. Construction on the wall continued through to the Ming Dynasty, which ruled China for 276 years from 1368 to 1644. The wall provided security with the ability to station military troops nearby but also the opportunity to collect taxes from travelers using the top of the wide wall and from merchants taking goods from China to Europe.

About the Author

Amy M. Armstrong is a former community news journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing features and covering school districts. She has received more than 40 awards for excellence in journalism and photography. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Washington State University. Armstrong grew up on a dairy farm in western Washington and wrote agricultural news while in college.

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