The Xia Dynasty (Hanyu Pinyin: Xia, Wade-Giles: Hsia, Chinese: 夏朝), ca. 2033 BC–1562 BC, is the first dynasty to be described in Chinese historical records, which record the names of seventeen kings over fourteen generations. The legends of the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors precede this dynasty, and it is followed by the Shang dynasty.
Until scientific excavations were made at early bronze-age sites at Anyang, Henan Province, in 1928, it was difficult to separate myth from reality in regard to the Xia. But since then, and especially in the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the existence of Xia civilization in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. At a minimum, the Xia period marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty. In the Marxist history common in mainland China, Xia society is considered a slave society (奴隸社會).
Xia Dynasty resumed hereditary monarchy from the legendary Yellow Emperor times, and began the period of a family or a clan controlling everything in the nation (家天下). It was also during this period that the Chinese civilization developed a ruling structure that employed both a benign civilian government (文治) and harsh punishment for legal transgressions (刑罰). From this the earliest forms of Chinese legal codes came into being.
Jie, the last ruler, was said to be a corrupt king. He was overthrown by T'ang, the leader of Shang people from the east.
Sovereigns of the Xia dynasty
|Posthumous Names ( Shi Hao 諡號)1
|01 ||45 || 禹
||Yǔ|| also Yu the Great (大禹; dà yǔ) |
|02 ||10 || 啟
||Qǐ || |
|03 ||29 || 太康
||Tài Kāng || |
|04 ||13 || 仲康
||Zhòng Kāng || |
|05 ||28 || 相
||Xiāng || |
|06 ||21 || 少康 ||Shǎo Kāng || |
|07 ||17 || 杼
||Zhù || |
|08 ||26 || 槐 ||Huái || |
|09 ||18 || 芒 ||Máng || |
|10 ||16 || 泄 ||Xiè || |
|11 ||59 || 不降 ||Bù Jiàng || |
|12 ||21 || 扃 ||Jiōng || |
|13 ||21 || 廑 ||Jǐn || Guoyu: jìn, putonghua: jǐn |
|14 ||31 || 孔甲 ||Kǒng Jiǎ || |
|15 ||11 || 皋 ||Gāo || |
|16 ||11 || 發 ||Fā || |
|17 ||52 || 桀 ||Jié || also Lu Gui (履癸 lǚ guǐ) |
|1 The reign name is sometimes preceded by the name of the dynasty, Xia (夏), for example Xia Yu (夏禹).
2 Possible length of reign, in years.