A Unit Study on Ancient China

Ancient China is an unusual unit study, not something that you normally see. Here are some ideas and activities to use to implement such a study.

Use the Google Search Engine to research the following archaeological finds. You should get a detailed description of what was found.

Cave at Zhoukoudian
Peking Man
Remains of Houses of Yangshao Culture of Banpo
Evidence of Longshan Culture in Northeast China
Terra Cotta Army in Emperor’s Tomb
Bodies Buried in Chinese Tombs
Oracle Bones
Written records of ancient China
Paintings from ancient China


1. How were these early Chinese similar to other ancient civilizations either before or after this historical period?

2. How does the developoment of technology play an important role in the survival of a civilization?



Imagine that you have been selected as the head chef for an ancient Chinese emperor. Plan a lavish dinner. Describe the types of dishes you are preparing, the ingredients, how the are prepared, and how they will be served. Remember to keep all of your choices in agreement with your location and time period.

Confucius lived during the reign of the Zhou dynasty in a time of upheaval. Although technically the Zhou emperors ruled China, the real power was in the hands of local feudal lords. The philosophers of the time went about the country side trying to restore order to traditional Chinese society.

Translate some of Confucius’ sayings into your own words:
1. Listening to music brings harmony to the mind. Right conduct brings harmony to existence.
2. When people are educated, the distinction between classes disappears.
3. Without learning the wise become foolish; by learning, the foolish become wise.
4. When the ruler behaves himself correctly, the people will also.
5. Let your parents’ only reason for worry be whether you are healthy.
6. Your parents gave you bodies, hair, and skin, every bit of you. Take care of them.
7. The superior man loves quality; the small man loves comfort.
8. The superior man is always himself. In a low position, he does not court; in a high position, he is not condescending. He is himself, and content to be so.

Research Activity Idea: Research other philosophers, religious leaders, teachers, etc. such as Jesus, Buddha, and Socrates. How are these men alike? How did their purposes and teachings differ?

Compare ancient Chinese and ancient Egyptian burial practices.
1. Compare their beliefs in life after death.
2. Compare any of their festivals to honor the dead.
3. Compare their special burial sites.
4. Compare their techniques for preserving and preparing the body for burial.
5. Compare what they buried with their dead.
6. Compare the different tomb styles.
7. Compare their servants or gods of the dead .

Research Topics:
Moism
Buddhism
Legalism
Ancestor worship
Daoism/Taoism
Yin and yang
Confusianism

Take an on-line tour of the Forbidden City.

Study the art of silk making in ancient China then put the following steps in the correct order:
a. batches of moths are kept in special houses where temperature, light, and are are controlled by braziers, air vents, and blinds. This is to control reproduction so that the moths in each batch will mate at the same time.
b. the cocoons are then plunged into boiling water to unravel the silky fibers. Each cocoon consists of a thread about half a mile long.
c. once the silkworms hatch from their eggs, they are kept on bamboo trays and fed fresh mulberry leaves to store fat while they mature.
d. silk making begins with the adult silk moth, wich is raised solely for reproduction.
e. as the silkworms mature, they spin cocoons from a jellylike substance in their silk glands.
f. the fine silk fibers are woven into different types of cloth, from filmy gauze to heavy brocades.
g. after about a week, some cocoons are steamed or baked to kill the worms inside. Some of the cocoons are left to nurture and release moths to reproduce.
h. once the cocoon fibers are unraveled, several are reeled together on a spool to make a thread strong enough for spinning.
i. since the moths’ lives are controlled so they will mate at the same time, the eggs also are produced and hatch at roughly the same time.

Study questions for the Great Wall of China:
1. Who ordered the Great Wall built?
2. When and why was it built?
3. Who did the actual labor?
4. How long did it take to build the wall?
5. Why is the wall so famous?
6. How long is the wall?
7. What is the wall made of?
8. How tall is the wall?
9. How was the wall defended?
10. How were messages sent along the wall?

On-Line Study Resources:
Daily Life in Ancient China
Ancient China on the Web
World History: China. This is a wonderful site full of fun and useful links!
Ancient Chinese Art
Ancient Chinese History links


Bibliography for your ancient Chinese unit study:

The Seventh Sister : A Chinese Legend
Seven Chinese Brothers
The Journey of Meng : A Chinese Legend
Eyewitness: Ancient China
Legend of Mu Lan : A Heroine of Ancient China
Ancient China : 2,000 Years of Mystery
Ancient China (Nature Company... Science in Ancient China
The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor
Eyewitness: Ancient China
Ancient China (Journey into Civilization)


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