Tang and Song Achievements

Essential Question

What were the achievements of the Tang and Song Dynasties in the areas of agriculture, trade, and technology?

Tang and Song Achievements


During the Tank and Song period, China started to farm in South China and completely changed how it farmed to be more productive.


The Chinese invented many important inventions like the compass, gunpowder, tea, paper, and printing. We will focus on these inventions in a future lesson.


During the Song Dynasty trade expanded to new levels. The Chinese had a lot of extra food that they could trade for craft items like cloth or pottery.


Farming Rice

One of the most important changes during the Song period was the Chinese stopped farming wheat and barley and started farming rice in South China. The climate was humid and perfect for rice farming. The Chinese developed advanced irrigation techniques to create flooded fields for paddies for rice to grow in. They invented water pumps and other devices to provide the crops with water. The Chinese also discovered new types of fast-ripening rice that grew so quickly farmers could grow two or even three crops a year.

Land Tenure

Land tenure is the way land is owned and distributed in a region. The Tang dynasty allowed wealthy families to purchase much of the good farmland. This forced peasants to rent land from wealthy families and work as tenant farmers.

Farming production improved so much that between 750 and 1100 the population of China DOUBLED from 50 million to 100 million people!


Shipbuilding & Navigation

The Chinese were the greatest shipbuilders in the world. Their boats could hold 500 people. The ships had multiple decks and sails. The ship also contained water-tight compartments that could be sealed off and prevent the ship from sinking. The Chinese also invented rudders or movable plates at the back of the ships that allowed them to be steered easily. Shipbuilding, with the help of the compass, allowed the Chinese to sail across the open seas and open up trade routes to India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Water Pump

Allowed farmers to easily bring water from rivers to the crops.


Ceramics that made valuable trade goods.


Used to move heavy projects in construction projects

Improved Animal Harness

They made harnesses that allowed for easier control of drafts animals and tired them out less quickly.

Chinese Weaving & Spinning Machines

Allowed for the production of trade goods like cloth clothes


Grand Canal

The Grand Canal is the world's oldest and longest man-made waterway. It is a 1,100 mile-long canal that connects the Huang-He River with the Chang River. It is filled with barges carrying rice and other goods across China. The Grand Canal also connects to several small canals and waterways that stretched for thousands of miles. The fast transportation of the Grand Canal greatly reduced transportation cost.

Money Economy

China developed a money economy where people bought goods with a currency like coins rather than barter for goods. Copper coins, called cash, were the main currency during the Tang Dynasty. The coins were heavy and hard to manage in large amounts so the Song Dynasty created a paper currency that was easier to use when trading long distances.

Expanding Industries

As trade expanded industries were created to produce trade goods. Silk productions rose during the Song Dynasty. China also began to produce porcelain, hard white pottery of extremely fine quality. Porcelain was a major trade good prized all over the world. One of the largest industries was iron. Iron was essential for weapons, tools, nails, statues, and other goods essential to industries.

Discussion Questions

  • Why were the Tang and Song achievements in farming important?

  • Why were the Tang and Song achievements in technology important?

  • Why were the Tang and Song achievements in trade important?

  • Which Chinese invention/discovery do you think is the most important? Why?

Activity 1: What achievements did the Tang and Song Dynasties make in farming, technology, and trade?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the questions in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.

Activity 2: Khan Academy "China: The First Great Divergence"

Read the article China: The First Great Divergence" Remember to annotate the article as you read. After you have read, write two or more paragraphs explaining what is the "First Great Divergence?"

Extension Activities