Han Dynasty Collapse

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Executive Summary

The goal of this essay is to understand the collapse of a complex society known as the Han dynasty. The Han dynasty ruled over from 202 BCE – 220 CE. Nearly 400 years of history, the Han dynasty is known for its peace and prosperity and its rich ecological and cultural background. A background that aids in the understanding of this complex societies demise. Thus, most explanations for the collapse of this complex society will come from Joseph Tainter’s (1988) book, The Collapse of Complex Societies. Specifically, using three of Tainter’s approaches to explain the collapse of the Han dynasty, listed as such: catastrophe, intruders, and class conflict, societal contradiction, elite mismanagement or misbehaviour. Furthermore, other
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The first time period is commonly referred to as Western Han (206 BCE – 2 CE). It received its name because the capital, Chang’an, was located in western China. However, in 2 CE, a break in Han history occurred until 25 CE. A non-Han emperor named Wang Mang seized the throne and established a new dynasty called the Xin dynasty. The reign on Wang Mang and his dynasty did not last long, as he was overthrown by a peasant revolt in 25 CE. This initiated the reestablishment of the Han dynasty, commonly referred to as Eastern Han (25-220 CE). It received its name based on the relocation of the capital from Chang’an to the city of Loyang, which was located further east in China.
It is important to identify the different time periods for which the Han dynasty ruled because several factors contributed to the collapse of the early Western Han dynasty, Wang Mang’s ruling, and then the later Eastern Han dynasty. All of which, in some way or another, were influenced by catastrophe, intruders, class conflict, societal contradiction, elite mismanagement or misbehaviour.

1.2 Establishing a
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