History >Regime, Government and Spheres of Influence
The Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty (618-907), also known as "Li Tang" (for Li is the surname of the royal family), is known to be one of the most powerful and prosperous periods in China. In 618, Li Yuan, the King of Tang proclaimed himself emperor in Chang’an (Xi’an, Shaanxi Province) and established the Tang Dynasty, which was replaced by “Zhou” by Wu Zetian and was restored after the Dragon Revolution. The Tang Dynasty lasted 289 years with 21 emperors and was a unified dynasty with the largest territory. Because of its military strength, Tang was the only dynasty in China that didn’t build the Great Wall for defense purposes. The year 907 saw the end of the Tang Dynasty and the beginning of the Period of Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms.
The Silk Roads have been inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Silk Roads have been inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List as the “Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor” presented by China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This decision was made on 22 June 2014 by the World Heritage Committee during its 38th session ongoing in Doha, Qatar from 15 to 25 June 2014. “Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor” is a 5,000 kilometre section of the extensive Silk Roads network, stretching from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China in the Han and Tang Dynasties, to the Zhetysu Region of Central Asia. It took shape between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD and remained in use until the 16th century, linking multiple civilizations, and facilitating far-reaching exchanges of activities in trade, religious beliefs, scientific knowledge, technological innovation, cultural practices and the arts. The 33 components included in the routes network of Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor of the Silk Roads include capital cities and palace complexes of various empires and kingdoms, trading settlements, Buddhist cave temples, ancient paths, posthouses, passes, beacon towers, sections of The Great Wall, fortifications, tombs and religious buildings. Among those 33 components, 8 sites are located in Republic of Kazakhstan: Site of Kostobe Site of Aktobe Site of Kulan Site of Kayalyk Site of Talgar Site of Ornek Site of Akyrtas Site of Karamergen 22 sites in People’s Republic of China: Site of Weiyang Palace in Chang’an City of the Western Han Dynasty Tomb of Zhang Qian Site of Yumen Pass Site of Han'gu Pass of Han Dynasty in Xin’an County Site of Xuanquan Posthouse Site of Shihao Section of Xiaohan Ancient Route Site of Luoyang City from the Eastern Han to Northern Wei Dynasty Maijishan Cave-Temple Complex Bingling Cave-Temple Complex Site of Daming Palace in Chang'an City of Tang Dynasty Site of Suoyang City Site of Dingding Gate, Luoyang City of Sui and Tang Dynasties Bin County Cave Temple Great Wild Goose Pagoda Small Wild Goose Pagoda Xingjiaosi Pagodas Site of Qocho City Kizilgaha Beacon Tower Site of Yar City Kizil Cave-Temple Complex Subash Buddhist Ruins Site of Bashbaliq City The other 3 sites in Kyrgyz Republic: Site of Ak-Beshim (City of Suyab) Site of Burana (City of Balasagun) Site of KrasnayaRechka (City of Nevaket) The other nomination of the Silk Roads presented by Tajikistan and Uzbekistan: “Silk Roads: Penjikent-Samarkand-Poykent Corridor” was referred back for the revision. To date, the World Heritage List recognizes 1001 sites in 161 States Parties to the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Tang Dynasty (618–906)

After 300 years of division and fragmentation following the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220 A.D., China was once again unified under the Sui dynasty (581–618). The political and governmental institutions established during this brief period lay the foundation for the growth and prosperity of the succeeding Tang dynasty. Marked by strong and benevolent rule, successful diplomatic relationships, economic expansion, and a cultural efflorescence of cosmopolitan style, Tang China emerged as one of the greatest empires in the medieval world. Merchants, clerics, and envoys from India, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Korea, and Japan thronged the streets of Chang’an, the capital, and foreign tongues were a common part of daily life. In the beginning decades of the Tang, especially under the leadership of Emperor Taizong (r. 627–50), China subdued its nomadic neighbors from the north and northwest, securing peace and safety on overland trade routes reaching as far as Syria and Rome. The seventh century was a time of momentous social change; the official examination system enabled educated men without family connections to serve as government officials. This new social elite gradually replaced the old aristocracy, and the recruitment of gentlemen from the south contributed to the cultural amalgamation that had already begun in the sixth century. The eighth century heralded the second important epoch in Tang history, achieved largely during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (r. 712–56), called minghuang—the Brilliant Monarch. It is rightfully ranked as the classical period of Chinese art and literature, as it set the high standard to which later poets, painters, and sculptors aspired. The expressions and images contained in the poems of Li Bo (ca. 700–762) and Du Fu (722–770) reflect the flamboyant lives of the court and the conflicting sentiments generated by military campaigns. The vigorous brushwork of the court painter Wu Daozi (active ca. 710–60) and the naturalist idiom of the poet and painter Wang Wei (699–759) became artistic paradigms for later generations. Although the An Lushan rebellion in the middle of the century considerably weakened the power and authority of the court, the restored government ruled for another century and a half, providing stability for lasting cultural and artistic development. Department of Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tang Dynasty offices discovered in Daming Palace excavation

Chinese archaeologists recently found in the ruins of Daming Palace what is believed to be the zhongshu sheng, an office responsible for drafting and issuing imperial edicts during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). According to excavation team leader Li Chunlin, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Archaeology Institute, a 50-square-meter room has been unearthed in the west of the office ruins, and a relatively small room in the north of the office has also been found. The team began excavating in 2010 a 5,200-sq-m area northwest of Huanyuan Hall and Xuanzheng Hall, the main buildings of the Daming Palace, the Tang Dynasty imperial palace. The area was made the focal point of a projected five-year excavation from 2011 to 2016, approved by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, after many Tang cultural relics were found there. Two excavations, in 2011 and 2012, unearthed ruins of roads, walls, channels and an incomplete yard, said Gong Guoqiang, another excavation team leader. Gong said that the third excavation on the site began in a 1,500-sq-m area in October, and the complete layout of the yard should be unearthed by the end of the year. Experts say the room recently discovered might be the zhongshu sheng, because it was located in the west side of the Xuanzheng Hall. Historical records indicate that the zhongshu sheng and menxia sheng were in the west and east sides of the hall. Archaeologists found hundreds of artifacts around the office ruins, and many of them bore inscriptions in Chinese characters reading "official" that were used by imperial officials. During the Tang Dynasty, the central government set three sheng, or offices, and six ministries. The zhongshu sheng was for drafting and issuing imperial edicts, the menxia sheng was for checking such edicts, and the shangshu sheng was for managing government affairs. The three sheng were directly under the management of the emperor and were higher than the six ministries. Such ruins of central governmental offices have never before been discovered, Gong said, and they provide information for the research of the ancient government structures. The ruins of Daming Palace are located in the northern suburban of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province. The city was the Tang Dynasty's capital. It covered 84 sq km and had a population of over 1 million. In ancient times, it was called Chang'an and was one of the largest and most prosperous international cities in the world.

Knowledge Graph

1 The Tang dynasty was largely a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule, until the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the later half of the dynasty.

2 Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty maintained a civil service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office.

3 The popularization of woodblock printing during the Tang dynasty made the written word available to greater audiences.