Chinese legends tell of heroic figures who taught people to marry and live in families, created music, domesticated animals, invented agriculture, and introduced the calender. The most notable of these were three sage-kings named Yao, Shun, and Yu.
Mesoptotamians, Egyptians, and Indians put pressure on east Asia to experiment with agriculture.
Loess (n) - an extremely fine and powder-like substance that was deposited on the plains of northern China.
The Yangshao society (5000-3000 BCE) wad discovered in 1952 in modern Xi-an.
The Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, which were heredity states which extended their controll over progressively larger areas over time.
The Xia dynasty came into being at about 2200 BCE.
According to tradition, the Shang dynasty moved their capital six times.
The Sang named one of their earliest capital Ao.
Yin, located near modern Anyang, was the capital during the last two or three centuries of the Shang dynasty.
The Zhou dynasty dwelled in the Wei River valley, north-western China.
Zhou political ruling was based on the idea that the ruler had "the mandate of heaven" or the approval of the gods.
Technological developments also worked in favor of subordinate rulers, as Zhou kings were not able to control the production of bronze as closely as the Shang dynasty before them had.
The Zhou dynasty collapsed in early eighth century BCE.
In 771 BCE, nomadic people invaded China from the west.
By the fifth century BC E, territorial princes ignored the central government and use their resources to expand their own states. The last century of the dynasty was so violent it was known as the period of Warring States (403 - 221 BCE).
In 256 B.C.E., the Zhou dynasty ended when the last king abdicated his throne, under pressure from his subordinate, the king of Qin.
Under the Shang and early Zhou dynasty, the royal family and allied noble families occupied the most honored positions in Chinese society.
They resided in large compounds made of pounded earth, and lived on agricultural surplus and taxes.
Ruling elites possessed much of the bronze weaponry and often furnish their households with cast bronze utensils, such as pots, jars, serving dishes, bells, drums, mirrors, etc.
A privileged class of hereditary aristocrats rose from the military allies of Shang and Zhou rulers.
They possess extensive land holdings, and they worked at administrative and military tasks.
There's very little information about merchants and trade in ancient China until the latter part of the Zhou dynasty, but discoveries show that long distance trade routes reached China during Shang and probably Xia times as well.
Trade networks linked China with lands to the west and south early in the third millennium BCE.
Legendary accounts credit King Yu with the invention of sails.
There is no archaeological indication of Chinese sails before 500 BCE, but there is abundant evidence that Chinses mariners used large oar-propelled vessels before 2000 BCE.
Chinese people thought that their dead relatives could watch over them after death, but lacking an official Chinese religion, the patriarchal head of the family presided at rites and ceremonies which honored ancesstor spirits.
China did not have a recognized religion, but did mention an impersonal heavely power calle the "tean" who bestowed and removed the mandate of heaven.
Writing in China goes back to at least to the early part of the second millennium BCE.
Surviving records indicate that scribes at the Shang royal court kept written accounts of important events on strips of bamboo or pieces of cloth. Unfortunatly, all of thse materials, along with their messages, have perished.
Oracle bones were used by fortune-tellers to forecast the future. In other societies, examining the entrails of sacrificed animals, was used.
In the nineteenth century CE,peasants working in fields found oracle bones, who in turn sold them to druggists. They called them dragon bones, and ground them to be sold as a medicine. Only after 1890 did scholars realize what t hey were.
These bones allowed scholars to ge t a glimpse of the earliest Chinese writing.
A few oracle bones, a large number inscriptions on bronze cerimonial utensils, and many Zhou dynasty books survive.
Best known of Zhou dynasty works are the reflections of Confucious and other late Zhou thinkers, which served as the intellectual foundation of classical Chinese society.
Other Chinese works, mostly anonymous, show that Chinese people were often keen observers of the world and subtle commenters on human affairs.
The most highly recognized of Zhou dynasty writings were the Book of Changes, Book of History, Book of Etiquette, and Book of Rites. These served as textbooks in Chinese schools.
When the period of the Warring States was ended by the house of Qin, the emperor bought China under tightly centralized rule in 221 BCE, ordering all writings destoryed that did not have some immediate utilitarian value. He spared books on divination, agriculture, and medicine, but destoryed books on poetry, history, and philosophy, in fear that they would spark people to question his rule.
During the Zhou Dynasty, the zone of agriculture extended about 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of Xi'an, to the eastern region of monder Gansu province.
People began riding domesticated horses after 4000 BCE.
As Chinese cultivators expanded north and west, the encountered a nomaic people who build pastoral societies in teh grassy steppe lands of central Asia.
By 2900 BCE, nomadic Chinese cultivators had introduced heavy wagons.
The nomadic herders of China were often intermediarries on the trade route spanning all of central asia.
Relations between China and the nomads were very tense, and they often engages in bitter wars. In fact, the reason the Shang dynasty fell to the Zhou was because they had strengthened up to deal with nomadic attacks from the west and north.
The nomadic herders did not use writing until 700 BCE, nor did they immitate any Chinese ways.
The state of Chu challanged the late Zhour dynasty.
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