China's Golden Age (618-1279)
Standards: 7.3.2
Historical Interpretation 2
Advances in Farming, Technology, and Trade

Key Terms and People

land tenure: refers to the way land is owned and distributed in a region

literacy: the ability to read and write

money economy: an economy in which people use currency rather than barter to buy and sell goods

porcelain: a hard white pottery of extremely fine quality

Section Notes


  • One reason the Song Dynasty moved the capital to the south was because rice grew very well in the humid South. Rice yielded more food per acre than other grains. With more food available, the population soared. Advances in farming included irrigation systems, pumps and water control devices, and the development of new strains of fast-ripening rice. Rice is grown in flooded fields called paddies. Before the Song Dynasty, the Tang government altered China's land tenure system. The government allowed wealthy families to purchase much of the good farmland. Most peasants now worked as tenant farmers.


  • Shipbuilding and Navigation: The ships could can hold 500 people, they had multiple decks and masts, watertight compartments, and rudders to make them easy to steer. In addition, navigation became easier with the invention of the magnetic compass.
  • Gunpowder and Printing: Chinese also discovered gunpowder. They first used gunpowder in fireworks. By the song era, however, they were using gunpowder to make bombs rockets and other weapons. The Chinese invented paper at least 2000 years ago, block printing about 1600 years ago, and more recently movable type. With movable type, the pieces could be assembled as a needed to print the page of text. This eliminated the need to carve a new block of text for each page of a book, like block printing. Printing lowered the cost of books. Now common people could hope that their sons might grow up to join the scholar-official class.

Trade and Industry

  • Many factors helped the growth of trade; one was increased farm production, another was a drop in transportation costs, and the third was the development of a money economy. With extra farm products or food, people could now trade for craft items like pottery and cloth, in addition transporting goods became easier and less expensive with the completion of the Grand Canal in the early 600s. The Grand Canal is the world's oldest and longest man-made waterway. It connects China's two great rivers, the Huang He in the north and the Chang in the south. During this time period, the Song government issued the world's first paper currency. Paper money was easy to use, especially in trade over long distances.
  • As trade increased, industries expanded as well. For example, industries such as the production of silk, ceramics and iron all expanded during the Song Dynasty. Iron was essential in many industries, such as salt production. It was also used in weapons, tools, nails and even Buddhist statues.

Summary: China under the Song Dynasty developed better technologies and grew more food. These changes brought prosperity and a rising population to China.

Study Guide Questions

Why did Chinese farming shift to the south?

Explain how new ways of farming increased farm production in China.

Name three technologies developed during China's Golden age?

Which new technology do you think had the greatest impact on Chinese society? Why?it?

Practice Test

Homework: Choose one
  1. Workbook Chapter 10, section 3 (Page 127)
  2. Answer three of the study guide questions using complete sentences.
  3. Draw a picture of something important from this section and summarize this section of the text (three sentences minimum).