Chinese History

After becoming a concubine for Emperor Xianfeng at the age of 16, Cixi rose to power when he died and her young son inherited the throne. She governed China from behind a screen for more than 45 years, and eventually sealed the fate of the Qing Dynasty.

Ancient alcohol can tell us a lot about a society. In this episode, Sarah and Deblina cover millennia-old residues left behind in Chinese pottery, Egyptian jars and more. They also explore the science behind identifying the ingredients of these brews.

When people think of pirates, they usually picture male, western scoundrels flouting the law throughout the Caribbean. However, piracy is not a solely western pursuit. Listen in as Deblina and Sarah recount the exploits of pirates in the South China Sea.

During the Tong Dynasty, Chinese women were often treated as second-class citizens. This made the rise of Empress Wu even more extraordinary. But did her work have a lasting effect? Learn more about how -- or if -- Empress Wu permanently changed China.

The Trung sisters were daughters of a Vietnamese lord in the first century, when Vietnam was occupied by the Han Dynasty. Listen in and learn how these remarkable leaders fought to free their kingdom and why they remain highly revered in Vietnam today.

In 1850, a disillusioned would-be bureaucrat named Hung Hsiu-ch'uan became the head of a rebellion against the Qing dynasty. Learn the story of this rebellion -- and how it influenced modern China -- in this episode.

In the 19th century, Britain tried to remedy a trade deficit with China by hooking the country on opium. Tensions rose as more and more Chinese citizens became opium addicts, eventually leading to war. Learn more about the Opium Wars in this episode.

As one of history's most well-known globetrotters, Marco Polo is credited with many important contributions to Western civilization. Many believe pasta is one of these contributions -- but is it a myth? Learn more in this podcast from

Approximately 7,000 clay soldiers guard the burial site of Qin Shi Huangdi, China's first emperor. Learn more about the emperor's mysterious army in this podcast from

Author Gavin Menzies believes a fleet of Chinese explorers reached the Americas before Christopher Columbus, but he's been repeatedly challenged to defend this claim. Check out this podcast from HowStuffWorks to learn more about revisionist history.