Ancient Chinese civilization, as we understand it today, is the result of cultural influx that has evolved from various city-states established in the Yellow River valley, all through the Neolithic period. Archaeological research reveals that the earliest written records belong to the 1550BCE - 1046 BCE era, maintained by the Shang Dynasty. The history of the land has been unveiled on turtle shells, with carbon dating going back to 1500 BCE. All throughout the history of China, various dynasties have been credited with specific progress. While the Zhou Dynasty is credited with the development of culture, literature and philosophy; the Shang Dynasty is credited with development of modern Chinese writing. Similarly, the Qin Dynasty is credited with the unification of various warring kingdoms and the setting up of bureaucratic systems.
The Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties had developed, over a period of years, conflicting political consolidations. The differences led to battles for supremacy and territorial expansion. The imperial era began with the establishment of the Qin Dynasty. During this era, China witnessed the much-needed unification of the warring states. The era lasted a little more than a decade. The Han Chinese territory was united within a centralized government that was run from Xianyang, near modern-day Xi'an. The Qin Dynasty is credited with the spread of the doctrine of Legalism and rather rigid adherence to a specially developed legal code. This era witnessed absolute power being vested in the emperor.
The Qin philosophy of legalism was responsible for establishing a rule that was military in nature. The Chinese empire was expanded and unified with the help of brute action against political opposition. As much as the Qin ruler was hailed for bringing the political states together, he was also criticized for the burying and burning of scholars. However, there is no denying that the rules and laws propounded laid the foundation of the modern school of political governance in China. The Qin Dynasty is also credited with the building of the Great Wall of China. Even though the wall was augmented later and enhanced in structure and design during the era of the Ming Dynasty, the cornerstones of its basic design and strategic importance lie in the genius of the Qin reign.
The Qin Era is also credited with the development of the written language and weights and measures used in China and later, other countries around the world. This era witnessed the establishment of a special Chinese currency. Qin reign offered much respite after China's tribulations during the Spring and Autumn Periods and that of the Warring States. During Qin reign, the emperor added uniformity to even something as basic as the length of cart axles, alongside educational curriculum and trading systems. The six warring kingdoms of Qi, Yan, Chu, Han, Zhao and Wei were integrated within a common political system. The Qin non-hereditary aristocratic system replaced the quasi-feudalistic one handed down by the Zhou kings.
The Qin Era prospered under the guidance of advisers like Li Si. Although centralization was rooted in rather ruthless methods, the codes and bureaucratic procedures fueled a commonality in writing, coinage and scholarship. The entire empire followed standardized seal script characters and farming practices. Weapons were stacked in the capital to prevent uprisings, while separating physical walls were destroyed to prevent the resurgence of feudalism. A national conscription comprised compulsory military service for males between the ages of seventeen and sixty. Qin imperialism enriched China with numerous public work projects and an infrastructure that was non-existent in other surrounding empires.