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Describe how the First Emperor unified China by subduing warring factions, seizing land, centralizing government, imposing strict rules, and creating with the use of slave labor large state building projects for irrigation, transportation, and defense (e.g., the Great Wall).


Who was the first emperor?

  • Qin Shi Huang
  • Ruled from 246 BC to 210 BC
  • Before he became ruler, there were 7 different states with various rulers who were fighting for control
    Qinshihuang.jpg
    Qin Shi Huang

Unifying China

  • Huang was able to create a very powerful army
  • Over the course of 9 years, Huang was able to gain control of all the states
  • Became a unified state
  • After he became emperor, Huang made the following changes:
    • Abolished nobility and replaced them with his officials
    • Built a road system
    • Established Xianyang as a capital
    • Simplified the writing system
    • Standardized weights and measures
    • Created new coins
    • Created a canal to link the Yangtze and Pearl Rivers
    • To defend China from northern invaders, Huang ordered the creation of a defensive wall
      • Became the first part of the Great Wall
      • Anyone who stood in his way was forced to work on the wall
      • Thousands died in its creation
      • Click here for more information of the builders of the Great Wall
    • Many of his construction and labor project required the use of slaves, who were also used in his army
    • Outlawed Confucianism
    • Books that disagreed with him were destroyed
      • He also ordered over 1000 deaths of scholars

Quest for Immortality

  • Huang feared death and worked to avoid it
  • He hired doctors and alchemists to create potions to extend his life
    Xian_guerreros_terracota_general.JPG
    The Terracotta Army
  • Most of them contained mercury, which most likely killed him
  • In case he died, he ordered a huge tomb to be made
    • Included rivers, models of his palaces, and traps to catch invaders
  • Also ordered a terracotta army to be made
    • About 8,000 clay soldiers were created to guard his tomb
    • Included terracotta horses, chariots, and weapons
  • Click here for an article on Huang's tomb from National Geographic
Biography icon for wiki.pngFor more information about Huang, click here

lessonplan.jpgClick here for lesson plans on the First Emperor and Imperial China

Terracotta horse and two soldiers from the Terracotta Army buried near the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin, at Lintong, Shaanxi Province, 1974
Terracotta horse and two soldiers from the Terracotta Army buried near the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin, at Lintong, Shaanxi Province, 1974

Multimedia.pngClick here to view pictures of the terracotta army

Multimedia.pngDiscovery Channel Video of "The First Emperor: The Epic Battle" 1hr 6min "Preview some amazing live action scenes re-creating the enigmatic life of the first emperor."

Enchanted Learning Link

Click here for resources and information from Mr. Donn's webpage.

timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of the unification of China
timeline2_rus.svg.pngClick here for a timeline of the Chinese dynasties


The Great Wall
The Great Wall