AP World History Notes

Chapter 5: Early Societies in East Asia

  • 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.

    • Yao was extremely tall, often associated with a mountain, and modest, sincere, and respectful. He brought harmony to the rest of China.
    • Shun ordered the four seasons, and established units of time, weight, and measure.
    • Yu is known for being a vigourous and tireless worker who tamed the Yellow River.
  • Humans appeared in east Asia as early as 400,000 years ago.
  • Mesoptotamians, Egyptians, and Indians put pressure on east Asia to experiment with agriculture.

    • People of souther Cina and southeast Asia had domesticated rice by 7000 BCE.
    • By 5000 BCE, neolithic villages throughout  the Yangzi river valley (Chang Jiang) depended on rice as a major food staple.
  • After 3000 BCE, the Yangzi river valley and Yellow river velley inhabitants lived in agricultural villages and frequently traded with each other.
  • During 2000 BCE, they established cities, built large states, anc onstructed distinctive social and cultural traditions.
  • The Yellow River courses 4,700 kilometers (2,920 miles) before emptying into the Yellow Sea.
  • Loess (n) - an extremely fine and powder-like substance that was deposited on the plains of northern China.

    • So much loess is in the Yellow River that it has turned yellow and has the consistancy of soup.
    • Geographical conditions supported agriculture -- most years there was enough rainfall for their crops, so they had no need to build complex irrigation systems, like in Mesopotamia.
  • The Yellow River caused so much destructin in China that they put ons of labor into dredging river and and building dikes.
  • Abundant harvest in Northern China supported the growth of Neolithic societies, all of whom had different potting and architecture and most likely different political, social, and culteral traditions.
  • The Yangshao society (5000-3000 BCE) wad discovered in 1952 in modern Xi-an.

    • Excavations at the site, Nampo, revealed elaborately painted pottery and bone tools.
  • The Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties, which were heredity states which extended their controll over progressively larger areas over time.

    • Many historical accounts have been made of the Xia dynasty, however, much information on the Shang and Zhou dynasties came from legendary accounts which scholars were weary of.
  • The Xia dynasty came into being at about 2200 BCE.

    • The Xia dynasty also established a precedent for hereditary monarchal rule in China.
    • The Xia dynasty was founded by the sage-king Yu
  • Shang dynasty - 1766 - 1122 BCE.
  • Bronze metallurgy transformed Chinese socieity, and was used by the Shang dynasty to displace the Xia dynasty.
  • The Chinese also had chariots, which were esentially copies of their Indo-European counterparts.
  • The Chinese had bronze metallurgy and chariots by 1200 BCE, and the Shang elites were able to monopolize the bronze industry.
  • Shang rulers clearly had an abundant of military sources force -- records mention armies of 3,000-30,000.
  • The Shang empire relied on a network of local authorities controlled by Shang kings.
  • According to tradition, the Shang dynasty  moved their capital six times.

    • The site of Shang capitals was not only the site of administration and military command but also bronze foundries, arts, crafts, trade, and religious observances.
  • The Sang named one of their earliest capital Ao.

    • The city walls stood 10 meters (33 feet) high with a base some 20 meters (66 feet) thick.
    • The walls were built of earth packed against wooden forms.
  • Yin, located near modern Anyang, was the capital during the last two or three centuries of the Shang dynasty.

    • Archaeologists have identified a complex of royal places, archives with written documents, residential neighborhoods, two bronze foundries, etc.
  • The Zhou dynasty dwelled in the Wei River valley, north-western China.

    • They were a tough sinewy people, and at once point were allied with Shang forces, but eventually caused the Shang dynasty to decline.
  • Shang and Zhou ambitions collided in the twelfth century BCE.
  • The last Shang king was corrupt, and many of the Shang empire transfered loyalty to the Zhou dynasty.
  • The Zhou dynasty ruled from 1122 - 256 BCE.
  • Zhou political ruling was based on the idea that the ruler had "the mandate of heaven" or the approval of the gods.

    • Zhou dynasty rulers had the "mandate of heaven" and emperors called themselves the "son of heaven."
  • The Zhou dynasty was so large that it had to rely on decentralized governent, where power authoirty and responsibility were entrusted to subordinated who owed allegiance tribute and military suppor to the central government.
  • The system of decentralized government eventually declined as subordinates became independent from the dynastey.
  • 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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How to cite this note (MLA)

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 5: Early Societies in East Asia" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 05 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2017. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/world-history/outlines/chapter-5-early-societies-in-east-asia/>.
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