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Intro 


Referenced Time Chart of Reigns, Eras & Dynasties
(also featuring U.S. Presidents and British Prime Ministers)

A time-saving history resourceArt from the Chinese Tang Dynasty, AD 618-907

This chart sets out to plot the parallel courses of Britain, China, Korea and Japan over 2,000 years, so as to arrive at mutually intelligible timelines that facilitate a shared understanding of history in East and West. Perhaps such a bird's eye view can provide a starting point, or even the framework, for some more in-depth study and discussion.

From these pages it can quickly be determined which person or entity held sway in Britain or East Asia (and more recently, the United States of America) in any given year, and how long they had been there prior to that. When, for example, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth on 16th September 1620 with pilgrims bound for America, King James I of England had been on the throne for all of 18 years, Japan was the same distance into its isolationist Edo period, while over in China the Ming Dynasty was in its 253rd year. 

Should you wish to know more, simply locate the hyperlink in the initial year of the reign, era, dynasty, presidency, prime ministership or historical event you happen to be interested in. Links to many more defining episodes can easily be 'plugged' into the chart without having too much impact on its overall size, and this should further enhance its future usefulness.
  

Background

This project was first inspired by the realization that the average Englishman is at a complete loss as to the age of a late Ming dynasty vase, while the average Japanese has a hard time knowing off the cuff exactly how far back such and such an event took place because of that country's adherence to a system of temporary time-reckoning based on an incumbent emperor's reign. 

Since history and current affairs are inextricably linked, I am hoping that this Referenced Time Chart of Reigns, Eras and Dynasties will help enable readers in both East and West to better relate to and draw useful lessons from the successes and excesses of our common past.

David V. Appleyard, editor

The Battle of Hastings, 1066

Great Wall of China — The Chinese Dragon  by Kah Joon Liow

When seen from above the Great Wall of China looks like a dragon zigzagging over mountain tops. The Chinese call it “Wan Li Chang Cheng” which means “Wall of 10,000 Li”. (10,000 li = 5,000 km)

The Great Wall of ChinaActually, the Great Wall is 7,200 km long. Height wise, it is 4.5m to 9m. Depth wise, it is 4.5m to 8m. The entire structure was built by hand using stone, bricks, soil, sand, straw, wood, clay or whatever was available depending on the terrain.

Three main Chinese dynasties — the Qin (B.C 221-207), Han (B.C 206-A.D 220) and Ming (A.D 1368-1644) — built the Great Wall of China. All had one purpose — to keep out the “barbaric” Huns in the north who frequently invaded Chinese border areas. In all, tens of millions of people labored on the Great Wall. Many died.

Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, is credited with kicking off this massive project 2,200 years ago. By connecting old sections with newly built ones, the Qin Dynasty erected 4,800km of wall in 10 years — more than one km a day!

After the Qin, the Han Dynasty extended the Great Wall through the Gobi Desert. Watchtowers were added to the walls. Smoke spirals produced by burning wood and straw mixed with wolf dung functioned as an alarm system. One smoke column meant a force of 100 men was attacking, two columns signaled that more than 500 men were approaching, and so on.

The Great Wall of China we know today was built by the Ming Dynasty 600 years ago. By then the ancient wall was in ruins. The Ming rulers rebuilt most of it over a period of 200 years. That the wall is still in good condition today is due to an invention of that era, the adding of rice flour to make super strong bricks and mortar!

Kah Joon Liow is the author of the children’s book "A Musical Journey: From the Great Wall of China to the Water Towns of Jiangnan". This book allows children to experience China’s diverse land and people through interesting facts, beautiful drawings and delightful music. You can read chapters of the book and listen to the music at Living Chinese Symbols.

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This page last updated 2016-03-12
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