Prehistoric China — Up to About 1600 BC
Prehistoric China's chronology is divided into the Paleolithic Age,
the Neolithic Age, and the Bronze Age.

Without any reliable historical record, most of what has been pieced
together about prehistoric life in China comes from speculation
about human activity at archaeological sites and unearthed relics.
The rest comes from what might be truth within Chinese mythology.

The Xia Dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BC) — Early Bronze Age China
Possibly the first dynasty in ancient China, it's generally believed
that the Xia Dynasty consisted of several clans, living along the
Yellow River. Most of the evidence for the Xia Dynasty, including
its name, is perhaps just legend.

There was a bronze age Yellow River civilization at this time at
Erlitou in Henan, however artifacts don't show conclusively that
this was the Xia Dynasty of later writings.

Ancient China (c. 1600–221 BC)
bronzeAncient bronze objects of the Shang Dynasty have been
unearthed. Chinese civilization began along the Yellow River in the
Shang era, and spread from there when bronze age culture reached
its peak. Then traditional Chinese philosophies, such as
Confucianism and Daoism developed in the feudal Zhou era as
China expanded in territory and population.

Ancient China finally fractured into warring kingdoms for 200 years,
and its reunification marked the start of the Imperial China age.

The Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC)
The Shang Dynasty was the first with historical records remaining
— inscriptions on bones and bronze objects. Its capital was Yin
(Anyang) and its territory was between the lower reaches of the
Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

The Zhou Dynasty (1045-221 BC)
Major philosophies and religions emerged that were the basis of
Chinese belief in later eras, such as Confucianism and Daoism.

This era was divided into three periods: the Western Zhou Dynasty
(1045–771 BC); the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC), and
the Warring States Period (475–221 BC). It marked the transition
from tribal society to feudal society.

Imperial China (221 BC – 1912 AD)
The imperial China period makes up the bulk of Chinese history.
With the cyclical rise and fall of dynasties, Chinese civilization was
cultivated and prospered in times of peace, then reformed after
rebellions and conquests.
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