Yunnan has a very long history . Minkind first appeared at least a million or perhaps as much as three million years ago . For many years Peking Man , discovered in 1921, was the oldest know example of prehistoric man in China -until geologists begin planing the Kunming-Chengdu railway in 1965 and saw Yunnan's fossils. An old cowhered from the village of Yuanmou , northwest of Kunming, mentioned that had villages had been grinding up "dragon bones " as medicine for years . The surveyors, recognizing the common name for fossils , found a gully near Yuanmou whose cliff-like walls contained quantities of ancient mammal fossils . Among them , a young geologist discovered two human front teeth , famous for its abundance of animal and plant fossils .
The fisrt recorded Chinese invasion was in 339BC, when a prince of the Yangzi River valley sent his general over the mountains to conquer the "southwest barbarians' .The campaign lasted ten years ,during which his return to China was cut by the prince's rivals . When the general found himself isolated , he set himself up as the king of Dian in capital near present-day Kunming. For two centuries his descendants ruled the kingdom , completed cut off from China ,and intermarried with the Dian people .
The Han Dynasty
The great Dynasty ruled China from 206BC to AD 220 and struck up an important silk trade with Europe . Citizens of the Roman Empire quickly developed a taste for silk togas . One branch of the transcontinental trade , know as the Southwest Silk Road , ran through to India . The Han emperor , wishing to control the entire trade route , launched the second Chinese invasion of Yunnan . The King of Dian welcomed the invaders , hoping his new allies would help him to subdue neighbouring tribes , He thereupon received an imperial seal recognizing Dian as a tributary state . But the Chinese army could not get past Yunnan's formidable western mountains and eventually withdrew . Dian's tribal chiefs ruled in the name of the emperor and when the Han Dynasty finally collapsed , Yunnan continued on its own course as before . in time , the Dian kingdom weakened ands tribes from south seized power .
In the eight century ,six princes ruled the southwest . One of them is said to have traveled north to China , which was enjoying a golden age under the tang Dynasty(618-907). When asked where he came from , the prince replied that his home was south of Sichuan's rainy weather at which is disputed by some historians , who claim that the Han emperor chose the name many centuries earlier .
in 732, the most ambitious prince treacherously invited the other five to a banquet hall , killing them all . The triumphan prince seized their lands and named himself Nanzhao , Prince of the south . For five centuries , the Nanzhao Kingdom and it's successor , the Kingdom of Dali , remained strong and independent , on a par with Tibet , its warring neighbours . Its capital was Dali , on Erhai lake in western Yunnan.
The Coming of Kubala Kham
The Kingdom came to an end in 1253 at the hands of Kubalai Khan , the famous Mongol , grandson of Chenghis Khan , Kubalai , the famous Mongol , grandson of Genghis Khan , Kubala's efforts in the southwest were part of a greast strategy by the Mongols to subdue the Song Dynasty m first taking Yunnan ,then pressing attack from both the north and west and south , leaving an empty land , Kubalai Khan's successes were in part due to the help of tough Muslim mercenaries from persia and Central Asia ; he sent these troops to Yunnan , partly to keep them out of mischief , far from the northern capital , but also to repulated the southwest, The Muslim settlers also to repopulate the southwest . The Muslim settlers also served as the emperor's watchdog s against any movement for independence .
Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty
For centuries , the Ming Dynasty and the Qing(Manchu) Dynasty that followed it , ruled Yunnan as a colony rather than as a true province of China . It served China as a kind of Siberia ,a place of exile for criminal , dissidents and officals who fell out of favour with the emperor . The actual number of progressive thinkers and intellectuals banished there was relatively small but they brought with them the language , architecture and customs of north China . One lasting sign of their influence is the style of roofs in many centural Yunnanese towns , reminiscent of the imperial splendour in Beijing .
In 1855 , a dispute between Muslim and Chinese miners escalated into a full scale Muslim rebellion against Chinese rule . It raged on for almost 20 years . Muslims ranscaked Kunming's old temples , burned its monasteries ,destroyed Buddhist monuments and levelled most public buildings and large private homes . They set up their own capital in Dali.
Chinese troops finally crushed the rebellion with great cruelty in 1873, slaughtering Muslim men , women and children in Dali and sweeping on to massacre thousands more in smaller towns, killing many of the survivors . Yunnan was nearly depopulated for the second time in its history .