Welcome to the mystery and wonder that is ancient China. In the subsequent readings, you will learn that Chinese culture developed differently from any other ancient civilization. Chinese history is a lesson in paradoxes. Their past is full of natural disasters and wars; yet some of the most beautiful art, literature, and architecture have been created and preserved through the 13 dynastic periods, spanning 4,000 years into the 20th century. These trends are reflected by three of the most influential dynasties of China: the Shang, Han, and Tang.