The Ancient Ryukyus generally refers to the period from the 12th century, at the beginning of the Gusuku (Castle) Period, through to the establishment of the Ryukyu Kingdom, to the invasion of the Ryukyus by the Shimazu Clan from Kyushu in 1609.
The Ryukyu Kingdom built up trading relationships with China, East Asia, Korea, Japan, and other neighboring Asian and East Asian nations. This era has been called The Great Age of Trade.
The First Ryukyu Dynasty founded by Sho Hashi was succeeded by the Second Ryukyu Dynasty. Among the greatest of the kings was King Sho Shin, the third to ascend the throne in the second dynasty. During his reign, the kingdom was thoroughly organized, power was centralized and many construction projects were carried out. Sho Shin's reign is suitably called the Golden Age of the Ryukyus.
During the Ancient Ryukyu period, Okinawa received influences from Japan and Asia. It experienced a blossoming of its own distinctive history and culture while forming and developing itself as an independent nation. But in 1609, due to a military invasion by the Shimazu Clan, the kingdom functionally lost its independence as a sovereign nation and became closely tied to the Shogunate system in Japan.