618 CE - 907 CE
The Tang Dynasty was located in China and it extended westward along the Silk Road.
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After the Han Dynasty and the Sui Dynasty, China was in a time of chaos, until 618 when the emperor was killed and Li Yuan proclaimed himself as emperor and founded the Tang Dynasty.
The Japanese and Korean cultures have both been influenced by the Chinese culture and much of it was borrowed during the Tang Dynasty. For example, Buddhism, the writing system, Confucianism, and the respect for nature that these cultures have all came from the Chinese.
The Silk Road played a major role in the Chinese civilizations. It helped the Tang Dynasty extend westward because as the Tang army moved west to protect the Silk Road, that land became theirs. The road also connected China with western cultures such as the Muslim and the Byzantine Empires. The Tangs used the Silk Road to trade many things. One thing they took west was their porcelain. The Westerns thought of porcelain as a status symbol and only the high class people had porcelain.
Many things led to the fall of the Tang Dynasty, but because of economic instability and regional separatism, the dynasty finally fell apart. In 907, after the Tang Dynasty, China entered a period known as the Five Dynasties and Ten States, which was a half-century of political fragmentation.
- The Tang Dynasty invented gunpowder. They invented it on accident and they mostly used it for celebrations.
- They also made porcelain. The true porcelain, also called hard-paste porcelain, was a combination of kaolin and a type of feldspar.
- The compass came from the Tang Dynasty too. They accidentally came across this from a game they would play to predict the future. They would spin a spoon like object and they realized that it would often stop in the same spot. They soon learned this was due to the magnetism.
- The first mechanical clock was made during the Tang Dynasty by a Buddhist monk named Yi Xing. It was operated by a stream of water that powered a wheel to turn at a constant rate, one rotation every 24 hours. A system that included wheels and gears made the clock turn.
- Block printing was also created during this time.
- Along with these, the Tang Dynasty also contributed to astronomy, medicine, and the spinning wheel to our society.