SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Emperor of the Tang Dynasty giving Audience, 9th century. From a contemporary Chinese manuscript. Ruling from 618 to 917 AD, the Tang Dynasty was the Golden Age of ancient Chinese history. A period of peace and prosperity, with many advancements in engineering and technology, social structure, literature, poetry and the arts. Inventions included gunpowder, clockmaking, printing, and porcelain. Foreign trade flourished via the Tang Silk Road with silk, jade, porcelain, lapis lazuli, spices among the precious goods exported, and imports of gold, gems, ivory, glass and perfumes. In 851, two Muslim merchants, Abu Zayd Hasan Ibn Yazid al-Sirafi and Sulaiman al-Tajir (Soloman the Merchant) gave a detailed account of the organisation of government, social order, taxation, pensions, legal system, public medical provision, extortionate port duties and how fingerprints were used as signatures.
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