Chronology for Discussion of Early Relations between China and the Peoples of Inner Asia




770-256 BCE

Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

551-479 BCE

Life of Confucius.

3rd century BCE (?)

Composition of Laozi, the classic text of Daoism.

221-207 BCE

Qin (Ch'in) Dynasty, whose emperor was buried near capital of Ch'ang-an (Xian) with famous army of terracotta soldiers.

206 BCE-220 CE

Han Dynasty, with division into Former or Western Han (to 9 CE), capital at Ch'ang-an,  and Later or Eastern Han (from 25 CE), capital at Luoyang.  Beginning of "Silk Road."

209-174 BCE

Rise of Xiong-nu (Hsiung-nu) under their Shan-yŁ Mao-tun.

198-134 BCE

Ho-ch'in treaty arrangements between the Xiong-nu and the Han--negotiated as equals, although in fact the Xiong-nu seem to have had the upper hand.

140-87 BCE

Han Emperor Wu-ti.

139-126, 115-  BCE

Missions of Zhang Qian (Chang Ch'ien) to West.

121-101 BCE

Campaigns leading to Han control of Hexi Corridor and victories as far west as Ferghana.

60- BCE

Han protectorate general and military colonization in west; fortifications built in Dunhuang region.

ca. 60 BCE

Civil war among Xiong-nu.

53-51 BCE

Southern Xiong-nu accept tributary status.

1st decades CE

Brief Xiong-nu revival.

ca. 40s

Xiong-nu civil war leading to permanent division into northern and southern Xiong-nu.

2nd half of 1st century CE

Buddhism arrives in China.


Han reassert control over Tarim Basin


Hsien-pi (a Manchurian tribe) defeat northern Xiong-nu.


Han withdrawal from western regions for fiscal reasons.


Last mention of northern Xiong-nu in Han sources.

220 CE-589

"Age of Division" (i.e., no unified Chinese state); includes rule by non-Chinese northern dynasties.

311, 316

Fall of capitals Luoyang and Ch'ang-an to Xiong-nu.


Earliest documentation of a Buddhist cave at Dunhuang.


Northern Wei Dynasty (of Xsien-pi origin).

beg. mid-6th century

First Turkish empire.


Unification of China under Chinese Sui Dynasty.


T'ang Dynasty