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Terracotta Army in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor.

Terracotta Army in the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor.

Public Domain, Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Qin or Ch'in (likely origin of "China") existed during the Warring States Period, but came to prominence as the new imperial dynasty (221-206/207 B.C.) when its first emperor, the absolute monarch Shi Huangdi (Shih Huang-ti) unified China.

The government of Qin China was Legalist, which came from Han Feizi (d. 233 B.C.) [source: Chinese History (Mark Bender at Ohio State University)], a system that held the power of the state and its monarch's interests paramount. This policy led to a strain on the treasury and, ultimately, the end of the dynasty.

The Qin is described as a police state with the government holding absolute power. Private weapons were confiscated. Nobles were transported to the capital. The Qin standardized weights, measures, coinage -- the bronze round coin with a square hole in the center, writing, and chariot axle widths. Writing was standardized to permit bureaucrats throughout the land to read the documents. It may have been during the Qin Dynasty or late Han Dynasty that the zoetrope was invented. Using conscripted farm labor, the Great Wall (868 km) was built to keep out northern invaders. An army of more than 7000 terra cotta soldiers (or servants) was put in a tomb to protect (or serve) the dead emperor Shi Huangdi, who had ruled for 37 years.

Shi Huangdi's son replaced him, but was overthrown and replaced by the Han Dynasty in 206.

Pronunciation: Chin
Also Known As: Ch'in
The Qin Dynasty is known for the terra cotta army put in the emperor's tomb to serve him in the afterlife.


  • (mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/china/early_imperial_china/qin.html) Minnesota State University Qin Dynasty
  • Sarah Milledge Nelson, Brian M. Fagan, Adam Kessler, Julie M. Segraves "China" The Oxford Companion to Archaeology. Brian M. Fagan, ed., Oxford University Press 1996.
  • Cultural China: Kaleidoscope Science and Invention

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