Classical China
China was another of the origin points of early civilization in the world.  In the Chinese case, civilization emerged in the Yellow River valley.  What I find especially interesting about studying early Chinese history--aside from the unique factors that tended to promote cultural continuity over a long period of time, such as the development of a written script, the fear of outside invasion and the importance accorded social stability--is the complexity of the sequence of ruling dynasties.  One of the most important of these dynasties was the Zhou, which technically lasted almost one thousand years but in reality lasted only about four hundred years; that is still a long time.  It was during the Zhou Dynasty that the key political concept central to classical China emerged, i.e., the idea of the "Mandate of Heaven."  Rulers claimed the "Mandate" as their source of authority, conferred on them by ien (heaven); and who could dare to dispute the will of heaven, i.e., no one!  Since heaven encompassed all lands, an emperor was lord of all; and since there was only one heaven, there had to be only one ruler on earth.  Please feel free to review my lecture notes (rtf file) on early Chinese history.  You may send me any suggested corrections or additions.
Some recommended online lectures and websites:

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