History of explorations. According to Chinese sources, an embassy was sent to China by Marcus Aurelius in 166 AD and Byzantium sent ambassadors in the 7th and 8th centuries, while the first missionaries arrived in China (A-lo-pen in 635-646 and Kiho in 744). Two more missions were sent from Constantinople in the early 11th century. From the 7th to the 13th century Islamism closed the way to the east to Europeans (the Arabs themselves developed travel and trade in Asia) until the formation of the Mongol empire; then Qubilay Khan, conquered China (Yuan dynasty, 1271-1368), received the Polos in Beijing. Until 1340 there were many travelers, including the Franciscans Giovanni da Montecorvino and Giovanni dei Marignolli, as well as Odorico da Pordenone (ca. 1286-1331) and F. Balducci Pegolotti (1310-47). Another interruption in external relations was caused by the gradual Islamization of the peripheral provinces of the empire and the end of the Mongol dynasty, replaced by that of the Ming (1368-1644). The voyages of the Portuguese (Afonso de Albuquerque, Jorge Álvares, Rafael Perestrello) resumed in the 16th century, but caused a strong reaction and in a short time the relations were limited to the port of Patane, except for some clandestine expeditions. The missionary activity of Augustinians, Franciscans (Basilio Brollo) and above all of Jesuits (Matteo Ricci, Emanuele Diaz, Giulio Aleni, Johann Adam Schall, placed by the imperial government at the head of the astronomy tribunal, Martino Martini, Alessandro de Rhodes also resumed., Prospero Intorcetta, Johann Grueber of Linz, Bouvet and Gerbillon, who began to build a map of the empire on an astronomical basis), who made a great contribution to the knowledge of the internal provinces thanks to the favor of the emperor Kangxi (1662-1722). In the early 18th century. The disputes between Capuchins, Dominicans and Jesuits intensified and the favor accorded to foreign religious ceased, almost all of whom were expelled. Meanwhile, Portuguese commercial enterprises were joined by those of Dutch merchants (Pieter van Goyer, Jacob van Keyser and Pieter van Hoorn) and Russians (Petrov, Jalyšev, Evashko Pettliu, Ysbrandt Ides, John Bell of Antermony) since 1544, the first Russian missionaries added in 1808 (Jakinf Bičurin); from the 17th century. England also appeared with Weddel’s travels, followed by the embassies of Macartney (1792-94) and Amherst (1816-17). The systematic exploration of the China began in the 19th century, with coastal expeditions and hydrographic works (Macleod, Basil Hall, Gutzlaff, Berncastle, Blakiston, Dowson, Palmer) and with the paths of the Jesuit fathers (Huc, Gabet). Between 1868 and 1872 F. von Richthofen reached almost every part of the empire, and after him of great importance were the missions (1874-75) of AR Margary, Grosvenor, Colbor Baber and Sosnovskij, followed by the Jesuits J. McCarthy, Cameron and S. Chevalier, and by French travelers (Madrolle, Bonin). At the beginning of the twentieth century, the trips to western China (Litton, Carey, Davis, Ryder, the missionary Fergusson) were relevant. The explorations continued in the 1920s (PE Licent, Teilhard de Chardin), after the partial interruption due to the First World War.
Cultivation system. In the cultivation of the land, under the dynasties of the Qin (221-206 BC) and the Western Han (206 BC-9 AD) new tools and cultivation methods were introduced: mechanical three-foot seeder, more advanced plows, hand-operated wheels and pestles moved by means of a lever system for grinding, water mills, alternating plowing of strips of earth for dry soils. The Eastern Han (25-220) contributed to improving cultivation systems through the process of concentration of land ownership: it gave the opportunity both to choose the most suitable product for the soil thanks to the larger land and to introduce new equipment thanks to greater financial resources. The use of animals for plowing spread everywhere and new equipment was introduced (seeding machines, wind, water and animal power mills). The medieval period (220-589), on the other hand, witnessed a great gap between the North and the South. To the north, “state colonies” were created to repopulate the fields abandoned by the peasants exhausted by conflicts: these were encouraged through the ‘tax exemption; in the south the system of the great property was preserved. The Sui (581-617) divided the land into several categories: arable land (lutian), land transmissible by inheritance (yongyetian) and land kept as a vegetable garden and intended for housing construction (yuanzhaitian); the lands were also divided into heritable lands and lands connected with the exercise of public functions. The Tangs (618-907) added to the system of “agrarian equalization” (juntianzhi) of Sui some measures to facilitate the elderly, the unable to work and widows. Under the Song (960-1279), agricultural production in the north was characterized by dry cereals, legumes, vegetables and fruit; in the South, on the other hand, rice cultivation was developed thanks to the introduction of new types of rice imported from South-East Asia, the cultivation of cotton and sugar cane was introduced, water energy was used for threshing and grinding, the system improved irrigation system and introduced a new fertilization system. During the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) Qubilay Khan (1215-1294) adopted a policy aimed at the development of agriculture, encouraged the cultivation of uncultivated lands, favored the cultivation of cotton and spread among the population treatises on agricultural techniques and on sericulture. The Ming (1368-1644) introduced new agricultural techniques, increased the cultivated area, developed the S double harvest process and introduced a type of rice suitable for hilly areas in N. Under the Qing (1644-1912) the Kangxi Emperor granted the peasants the right of ownership on the lands they had previously cultivated as settlers (1669). New products from America were introduced (potato, peanut, maize), new water works were carried out and rice and double crop processes were developed. Under the Qing (1644-1912) the Kangxi emperor granted the peasants the right of ownership over the lands they had previously cultivated as settlers (1669). New products from America were introduced (potato, peanut, maize), new water works were carried out and rice and double crop processes were developed.
Exam system. It was the system used in the imperial century for the recruitment of officials and the imperial bureaucracy. Participation in the exams, open only to men, required years of study and memorization. Therefore, the huge expenses incurred by families for tutors and private teachers, to which were added those for long trips to the exam centers, made it practically impossible to maintain a candidate except by the more affluent classes. In this sense, the examination system constituted the main mechanism for the self-preservation of the bureaucratic class. According to computerminus.com, the exams were fundamentally focused on the literary knowledge of classical sources, in particular of the Confucian tradition. The candidate not only had to know how to produce texts according to classical models, but he also had to be able to adapt its contents according to the political needs of the time. Passing the exams meant power, wealth and prestige for the families of the candidates. For this reason, many repeated the test several times, until it was passed. During the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), access to bureaucracy was through parental ties, wealth and the “reporting” system. However, starting in 165 BC, officials recommended for employment had to take written exams to ascertain their literary readiness. In 124 BC, Emperor Wudi established the first imperial university, where recommended young people took annual courses that ended with a written test, based on the knowledge of Five classics Confucians. It was the Sui dynasty (581-617) that formalized the system of examinations to select the candidates who could obtain positions in the administration. Under the Tang dynasty (618-907) the system consolidated, thanks above all to Empress Wu. The exams were held annually with the participation of 800-2000 candidates, but only a very small percentage (1%) passed the test. In 702 exams were also introduced for military officials. The examination system was further developed by the Song dynasty (960-1279). The exams had a three-year frequency and were divided into three levels: after the provincial level there was the metropolitan one; the candidates deemed worthy were then sent to court to take an exam in the presence of the emperor. The Songs introduced several reforms, including the anonymity of the papers and the correction made by two different commissioners. In addition, candidates were required to express their views on government practice. During the Mongolian dynasty of the Yuan (1279-1368) the examination system was temporarily abandoned to be reintroduced later, on an ethnic basis, with quotas reserved for the Mongols. With the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) the examination system became the main method of entry into the imperial bureaucracy until the end of the empire. Neo-Confucianism was adopted as a criterion for the interpretation of Five Confucian classics and the “eight-legged essay” was taken as the standard for the answers. The Manchu dynasty of the Qing (1644-1912) kept the system of examinations substantially unchanged until their complete abolition in 1905.