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Shih Huang Ti (Qin Shi Huang) 289-210 BC

Ch'in Shih-huang-ti was a formidable figure in ancient Chinese history. he established the parameters of dynastic rule that all others would follow for the next 2,000 years. Ch'in Shih-huang-ti then formed a government that was based on the ideals and principles of Legalism, as taught to him by his advisors. Legalism held that people were essentially selfish and base and needed a strong central government with strict rules and harsh punishments in order to function as a society.  A harsh, sometimes cruel, autocratic rule was the result, replacing the old feudal system of aristocracy and nobility. Other schools of thought and philosophy were outlawed, especially Confucianism. Many of its teachers were executed and their books burned. By 221 B.C. Ch'in Shih-huang-ti had conquered his rival states and unified China. In an effort to reinforce the idea of a unified China, Ch'in Shih-huang-ti instituted a program to standardize the Chinese language, as well as measurements for width and length, and a series of roads and canals were built to converge on the capital city of Xianyang.

To protect his state from a Hunnish tribe of people to the north known as the Hsiung Nu, Ch'in Shih-huang-ti embarked on an amazing effort to connect the walls and fortresses, created during the Warring States Period, to protect his kingdom. The result was the Great Wall of China. It spanned, not including its many branches, 4,160 miles (6,700 km), and is one of the largest manmade features on Earth. Construction started under General Meng T'ien in 214 B.C., and lasted 10 years. Another structure of astounding proportions built under Ch'in Shih-huang-ti was a massive burial compound, known as the Ch'in Tomb. It was discovered byarchaeologists in 1974, near the present-day city of Xiam. The tomb, encompassing 20 square miles (50 sq km), was a huge subterranean complex, landscaped to resemble a low, wooded mountain. In the chamber, 6,000 life-sized terracotta soldiers were found in battle formation, and in adjoining chambers thousands of smaller figurines were found. A stable of skeletonized horses was discovered and the remains of bronze gilded chariots accompanied them. Valuable gems, jade carving of trees and animals, as well as silks were also unearthed. The emperor's actual burial tomb has yet to be excavated. It was purported that it took 700,000 men more than 36 years to complete. Ch'in Shih-huang-ti and the Ch'in dynasty were regarded as evil aberrations, but the fact remains that the Ch'in dynasty served as the basis for all subsequent dynasties.   


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