Why is the Warring States Period important

A study of Central Eurasian innovations in warring states China and their impact on war and domination

Hofmann, Christine (2012) A study of Central Eurasian innovations in warring states China and their impact on war and domination.
Master thesis, University of Vienna. Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies
Supervisor: Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Susanne

PDF document
All rights reserved
Download (991Kb)

Link to u: search

Abstract in English

This thesis examines the contacts of pre-imperial China with the outside world, in particular with the peoples of the steppes to its north and west, and their impact. Archaeological findings show that China was maintaining regular contacts with the peoples of the neighboring Central Eurasian steppes from as early as the 2nd millennium B.C. While trade was the main motivation behind these interactions, they also ensured that many important material as well as conceptual revolutions entered China. During the Warring States period, the era marked by war and turmoil that preceded the first unification of China in 221 B.C., two very important innovations again changed the face of military endeavors and of China’s political landscape and society: iron technology and cavalry warfare. While there is little doubt that horseback-riding was adopted, this work argues that iron technology likewise was imported via interactions with the Central Eurasian peoples, and therefore two of the most important innovations of the time were direct results of China’s contacts with the steppes. Following this, the significance of these innovations is analyzed by looking at their role in the outcome of struggles and wars and their general impact on the distribution of power in this era of political tower. In the course of this analysis, it can be seen that many developments would seem to have been significantly conditioned by access to innovations or the lack thereof.

Keywords in English

Central Eurasia / Warring States / innovation / iron metallurgy / sword / horseback riding / cavalry / Qin

Abstract in German

The present work deals with early contacts between the China of the late Zhou dynasty, especially the Warring States Period (Zhanguo), and the neighboring steppe peoples, as well as some innovations that reached China through these contacts and their effects on the political and social developments of this period . Archaeologicals clearly show regular contacts between the early, prehistoric Chinese and the world “outside”. Although these contacts were originally mostly driven by mercantile motives, the trade in physical goods also led to the exchange of less tangible things, such as cultural customs, ideas or technologies. During the Zhanguo period, some very radical innovations from the west reached the central plains of China: the most important innovation of this period, iron processing and riding (horses), in particular the method of mounted archery with which the cavalry in Chinese armies for the first time was established. The present work first tackles to show that both innovations were adopted from the steppes and thus represent a direct consequence of China's contacts with the outside world. Afterwards, the effects of these innovations and, in a broader sense, the effects of the contacts with the steppe peoples in general on the Warring States, i.e. on the outcome of confrontations and other developments in this eventful time, are discussed. In the course of this discussion it became clear that the access to the steppe and thus close contacts across borders as well as all the advantages that resulted from it did indeed have the potential to bring about great changes and to significantly influence the developments of this time.

Keywords in German

Warring States / Central Asia / Innovation / Iron Processing / Sword / Cavalry / Qin

Document Type: University thesis (master thesis)
Author:Hofmann, Christine
Title:A study of Central Eurasian innovations in warring states China and their impact on war and domination
Circumference:115 pp.
Institution:University of Vienna
Faculty:Faculty of Philological and Cultural Studies
Publication year:2012
Language:eng ... English
Supervisor:Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Susanne
Assessor:Weigelin-Schwiedrzik, Susanne
Classification:15 history> 15.79 China
AC number:AC09036072
Document ID:19827
(The PDF layout is identical to the print version of the university thesis.)

Copyright notice: The Austrian Copyright Act applies without restriction to documents that are offered in electronic form via data networks; in particular, according to § 42 UrhG, copies and reproductions are only permitted for personal and private use. For details, see the legal text.

Edit document (only for administrators)