What important political and cultural events took place in China during the 2nd Century AD?

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Julie Feng | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The 2nd century, the period from 101 to 200 in accordance with the Julian calendar in the Common Era, included several significant political and cultural events in China. During this century, the country saw the rise and fall of the Han Empire. In the beginning of the century, the Han Dynasty of China had extended its imperial influence into Central Asia and was expanding its empire and lands at a steady rate. Their power was firmly concretized, and that allowed the Empire to reach farther. However, as the second half of the 100 year period approached, the people began to feel more and more restless. It was during the second half of this century that open rebellion and spreading corruption in the government began to become definitive. 

The Han Dynasty is considered a "golden age" in China's long history. Even to this day, the major ethnic group in China call themselves the "Han" people and Chinese script is referred to as "Han" characters. During this era, many important cultural, artistic, and scientific breakthroughs happened. It was during this time that Cai Lun invented paper and the papermaking process, Zhang Heng invented the world's first water powered armillary sphere for astronomical calculations and the first seismograph to detech earthquakes, and Zhang Zhonhjing vastly improved medicine. Furthermore, military expansion began to lay the foundations for China's famous Silk Road Trade Network. 

In the second half of the 2nd Century, Han Imperial authority started being challenged. Immense and powerful Daoist societies, based on their religious faith, started uprisings. These included the Yellow Turban Rebellion and the Five Pecks of Rice Rebellion. In 189 AD, the Emperor Ling died, which set off a chain of violent events. Military officers brutally massacred the palace eunuchs, which left room of certain members of the aristocracy, as well as military governors, to become warlords. This martial coup started dividing the empire. By early in the next century, the Han Dynasty had collapsed. 

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