Xia dynasty | Definition, Dates, & Facts

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The first Chinese dynasty was the Xia. From around 2070 BC to 1600 BC, the Xia Dynasty held power before the Shang Dynasty took over.

The Xia Dynasty—did it actually exist?

There is currently much discussion among historians as to whether the Xia Dynasty actually existed or is only a Chinese myth. As to whether the dynasty existed or not, there is no solid proof.

How are the Xia known to us?

Ancient Chinese books like the Classic of History and the Records of the Grand Historian contain descriptions of the history of the Xia. But there haven’t been any archeological finds that support the literature.

Why is it considered to be the first Chinese Dynasty?

The king was chosen according to talent before the Xia Dynasty. When the kingdom started to be transferred to a relative, typically from father to son, the Xia Dynasty came into existence.

Five Emperors and Three Sovereigns

The history of the kings before the Xia Dynasty is told in Chinese folklore. The Three Sovereigns were China’s first monarchs. They helped to create humanity and possessed divine abilities. They also developed farming, writing, medicine, and other innovations. The Five Emperors followed the Three Sovereigns. Up until the beginning of the Xia Dynasty, the Five Emperors ruled.


Yu the Great laid the foundation for the Xia Dynasty. By constructing canals to assist regulate the Yellow River’s floods, Yu had established a reputation for himself. He was crowned Xia king. Under his 45-year rule, the Xia expanded its power.

After Yu’s passing, Qi became the next king. China’s leaders had previously been picked based on their abilities. This marked the beginning of a dynasty in which the rulers were all related. Yu the Great’s descendants would hold power for almost the next 500 years.

The Xia Dynasty has had seventeen known kings. Some of them were regarded as good tyrants, such as Yu the Great, while others were wicked. King Jie was the Xia’s last emperor. King Jie ruled with brutality and tyranny. After his overthrow, the Shang Dynasty ascended to power.


A king oversaw the Xia Dynasty as a monarchy. Feudal lords reigned over several provinces and areas of the country under the king. Every lord promised to support the king. Yu the Great, according to legend, split the country into nine provinces.


The majority of Xia were farmers. Despite having developed bronze casting, they still used bone and stone for their daily implements. The Xia created innovative agricultural techniques, like as irrigation. They created a calendar as well, which is frequently credited with being the precursor to the conventional Chinese calendar.

Facts worth knowing about the Xia Dynasty

Some archaeologists speculate that the new finds from the Erlitou civilisation could be Xia relics.

Gun, the father of Yu the Great, originally tried to halt the water with walls and dykes but was unsuccessful. Yu was successful by channeling the water to the ocean via canals.

According to some historians, the Xia Dynasty only exists in Chinese mythology and didn’t actually exist.

Ancestor worship is regarded with beginning in China with Shao Kang, the sixth monarch of the Xia.

Bu Jiang was the Xia ruler who ruled for the longest. He is regarded as one of the most learned kings of the Xia.