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Central shrine decor at Somapura Mahavihara, a Buddhist center of learning from the Pala empire.

The Pala Empire: An Indian Dynasty Ruled by Protectors of Buddhism

The Pala Empire was an empire that was centered on the area of Bengal and Bihar, in the north and northeastern parts of India. This empire was founded during the 8th century AD and existed for about...
The Tomb of Amenhotep for the guardian to deity Amun has been discovered in Luxor.

Elaborately Painted Tomb for Nobleman and Amun Temple Guardian Uncovered in Luxor

A colorfully painted tomb dating to Egypt’s New Kingdom of the 18th Dynasty has been discovered in Luxor. Called the ‘Tomb of Amenhotep’, experts say it belonged to a nobleman and temple guardian for...
A ceramic female polo player, from northern China, Tang Dynasty, first half of the 8th century, made with white slip and polychrome. From the Musée Guimet (Guimet Museum), Paris. (Public Domain) Background: ‘Xuanzong's Journey to Shu’, in the manner of the mid-8th century Tang artist Li Zhaodao, an 11th-century Song dynasty remake.

The Tang Dynasty: The Arts Flourished, Family Ties Broke, and a Concubine Became Empress

While Europe was masked in the Dark Ages, China was flourishing in the Tang Dynasty. Woodblock printing gave them books, testing made government jobs available to common citizens, paper spread...
Attendant figurine (Sui Dynasty, 581 - 618) at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum - Sha Tin, Hong Kong. (CC0) Background: Votive plaque with Seated Buddha Shakyamuni, Attendant Bodhisattvas, and Monks, China, Sui dynasty, 581-618 AD, gilt bronze - Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University.

The Sui Dynasty: 37 Years, Two Emperors and One Grand Canal

The Sui Dynasty may not have existed very long, but this imperial dynasty made an impact on Chinese culture long after the memories of its rulers faded away. Peasants were both delighted with and...
Detail of a figure of a Xianbei warrior. (Editor at Large/CC BY SA 2.5) Background: Filial sons and virtuous women in Chinese history, a lacquer painting over a four-panel wooden folding screen; from the tomb of Sima Jinlong in Datong, Shanxi province, dated to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386–534 AD)

The Xianbei: A Chinese Dynasty Emerges from Nomadic Warriors of the Steppe

The Xianbei people … invade our frontiers so frequently that hardly a year goes by in peace, and it is only when the trading season arrives that they come forward in submission. But in so doing they...
Modern representation of Sima Yan, the first emperor of the Jin Dynasty. (CC BY SA) Background: Detail of a moulded-brick mural identified as the “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove and Rong Qiqi.” (Gary Lee Todd/CC BY SA 4.0)

The Jin Dynasty: The Sima Clan Fights to Hold China Together

The Jin (晉) Dynasty was an imperial dynasty that ruled China between the 3rd and 5th centuries AD. It was established following the Three Kingdoms period, during which China was fragmented into three...
Liu Xiu, Emperor Guangwu of Han, Liu Heng, Emperor Wen of Han, or Cao Pi, King of Wei. (Public Domain) Background: Dahuting tomb banquet scene, mural detail, Eastern Han Dynasty. (Public Domain)

Part II: The End Comes Slowly - The Last Han Dynasty Emperors

Read Part I Here Wang Mang’s usurpation of the throne and the establishment of the Xin Dynasty brought the Han Dynasty to a temporary end. Displeasure with the Xin Dynasty, however, caused rebellions...
Was Wang Mang a visionary, or a murderous villain – or both? (Wang Mang art italkcafe.com, The Analects of Confucius; Deriv)

The Emperor is Dead, Let Confucianism and Chaos Reign! The Rise and Fall of Wang Mang and the Xin Dynasty

Some saw Wang Mang as an evil usurper – others a selfless visionary. Either way, an emperor lay dead, and a learned Confucian scholar sought to bring peace and harmony, but the dynasty would descend...
A portrait painting of Emperor Gao of Han (Liu Bang), from an 18th-century Qing Dynasty album of Chinese emperors' portraits. (Public Domain) Background: A tomb painting of a late Eastern-Han period lively banquet.

A Golden Age of China, Part I: Early Han Dynasty Emperors

The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty in Chinese history. This dynasty was a long one – it was established during the 3rd century BC and lasted all the way until the 3rd century AD. It was...
 A portrait painting of Emperor Gao of Han (Liu Bang), from an 18th-century Qing Dynasty album of Chinese emperors' portraits. (Public Domain) Background: ‘Entry of the First Emperor of the Han Dynasty into Guanzhong’ (early 12th century) by Zhao Boju.

The Rags to Riches Story of Liu Bang: Peasant, Rebel, Chinese Emperor

Liu Bang’s life is a rags to riches story. He was born into a peasant family but rose to become the emperor of China. In fact, Liu Bang (known also as Emperor Gaozu of Han) was the generally...
Fittings in the form of tigers, Baoji, Shaanxi province, Middle Western Zhou dynasty, c. 900 BC, bronze - Freer Gallery of Art.

The Zhou Dynasty: The Longest-Lasting Dynasty in Chinese History

The Zhou Dynasty was the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history. It persisted all the way from the 11th to the 3rd century BC. The rulers of this epoch were no strangers to battle, but they also...
The area where the ancient underground city was discovered in Turkey's Trabzon province represented here.

Ancient Underground City Found Hidden in Turkey's Trabzon Province

Archaeologists from Turkey have announced the discovery of an underground city dating back 4,000 years and ostensibly belonging to a Byzantine dynasty. The lost city was unearthed during urban...
The four-handled tureen adorned with dragons, birds and spikes

Bronze Artifacts Found in 3,100-Year-Old Tomb Tell of Dynastic Take Over

Chinese archaeologists have discovered ritual tureen and “soup bowls” next to a badly decomposed body in a Zhou dynasty-era tomb. Among the remains there were also uncovered two wine vessels, which...
The rear wall of the coffin chamber in née Wu's tomb. Image: Chinese Cultural Relics

Inscriptions on Song Dynasty Tombs Narrate the Captivating Tale of an Ancient Chinese Couple

Archaeologists have announced the discovery of two 800-year-old tombs that narrate the story of an ancient Chinese couple. The tombs were found in a construction site in Qingyuan County, in China's...
The imposing mortuary temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. Design by Anand Balaji.

Butehamun, Opener of the Gates to the Underworld: Dismantling Sacred Places of the Dead

At the very end of the Twentieth Dynasty and through to the beginning of the early Twenty-First Dynasty, one after another, the many royal dead in the Valley of the Kings were divested of their...
A full-size model of a "middle-sized treasure boat" (63.25 m long) of the Zheng He fleet at the Treasure Boat Shipyard site in Nanjing built ca. 2005.

Could Clues From the Ocean Floor Finally Lead to Zheng He’s Lost Treasure Ship?

A recent investigation off the coast of Sri Lanka is offering hope that the lost treasure ship of Zheng He, one of the most famous admirals in Chinese history, may finally be found. This ship sank...

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