Ancient China Vocabulary

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Ancient China Vocabulary

  1. Confucianism: In China, a system of beliefs and behavior based on the teachings of Confucius, who said that people should live good lives by studying ancient traditions; stressed the importance of respecting one’s family and ancestors.

  1. Dynasty: A line of rulers who belong to the same family.

  1. Emperor: The supreme ruler of an empire.

  1. Empire: A group of lands and peoples ruled by one government.

  1. Erosion: The gradual wearing away of soil and rock by wind, glaciers, or water.

  1. Famine: A widespread lack of food resulting in hunger and starvation.

  1. Grand School: A school begun by Confucian scholars in China that trained students for government jobs.

  1. Levee: A wall built along a river bank to prevent flooding.

  1. Loess: A fine, yellow soil that is easily carried by wind and rain, found in China.

  1. Mandate of Heaven: The belief that the Chinese emperor’s right to rule came from the gods.

  1. Noble: A member of a ruling family or one of high rank.

  1. Oracle Bone: In ancient China, a cattle or sheep bone used to predict the future.

  1. Province: A division of land within an empire or country.

  1. Seismograph: A scientific instrument that could detect earthquakes hundreds of miles away, invented during the Han dynasty (p.177).

  1. Steppe: A dry, grassy, treeless plain found in Asia and Eastern Europe.

  1. Summary: A brief statement of main ideas.

  1. Topic Sentence: A sentence that contains the main idea of a paragraph, often the first sentence in a paragraph.


  1. Anyang: The ancient Chinese capital of the Shang dynasty.

  1. Great Wall of China: A long defensive wall extending 1,500 miles through northern China; built between 1300 and 1600.

  1. Huang River: (aka The Yellow River) A river that flows from the Tibetan plateau, across northern China, and into the Yellow Sea.

  1. Northern China Plain: A large, lowland region of eastern China that is watered by the Huang River; birthplace of the Chinese civilization.

  1. Qin (chin): An ancient province in northern China that rose to power under Emperor Shihuangdi in 221 B.C.

  1. Qinling Mountains: A mountain range in north–central China.

7. Xianyang: Capital city of the Qin dynasty during the rule of the Emperor Shihuangdi.


  1. Confucius: (551-479B.C.): Chinese philosopher who stressed the need to respect tradition; his teachings discussed the right and wrong uses of power.

  1. Fu Hao: A Chinese king’s wife who led troops to war. Her tomb contained records of her life and times.

  1. Han Gaozu: A farmer-turned-general who, in 206 B.C., overthrew the Qin dynasty; he founded the Han dynasty.

  1. Shihuangdi: Chinese emperor who founded the Qin Dynasty and unified China with a standardized system of writing and money; his tomb contained the famous “clay army”.

  1. Wudi: Han emperor who ruled China from 140 B.C. to 87 B.C.; he set up a system of schools that prepared students for government jobs.

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