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China Geography

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Geography of China and Shang Dynasty

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China Geography

  1. 1. Ancient China Geography & Shang Dynasty
  2. 2. The development of civilization in early China was aided by features like long rivers, fertile soils, temperate climates, and isolated valleys. ● China’s first civilizations developed in river valleys ● Two major rivers supplied water for earliest civilizations ● Chang Jiang, also called Yangzi ● Huang He, or Yellow River ● Both flow east from Plateau of Tibet to Yellow Sea Rivers, Soils, Climates ● Annual floods deposited rich soil, loess, on flood plains ● Valley of Huang He particularly fertile due to loess ● Fine dusty soil ● Carried into China by desert winds Loess China’s Geography
  3. 3. Yellow River Civilization ● China’s two major rivers are the Yangtze and the Hwang He. Both empty into the Pacific Ocean draining China’s heavily populated fertile plains. ● The earliest Chinese civilizations were found along the Hwang He (Yellow) river which suffers violent flooding each year. It’s nickname is China’s sorrow.
  4. 4. Isolation ● Combination of rivers for irrigation, fertile soil for planting allowed Chinese to thrive, as did China’s relative isolation ● Mountains, hills, desert protected China from invasion ● Himalaya Mountains separate southern China from India, rest of southern Asia; vast Gobi Desert prevented reaching China from west Crops ● Most of eastern China covered with fertile soils; some regions better suited than others for growing certain crops ● Southern China—warm, receives plenty of rainfall, excellent region for growing rice ● Further north—climate cooler, drier; suitable for grains, wheat, millet
  5. 5. ● Archaeological discoveries suggest Chinese civilization began in Huang He valley ● People started growing crops there 9,000 years ago Beginnings of Civilization China’s Geography
  6. 6. Shang: 1523-1028 BCE
  7. 7. According to ancient Chinese records, the Shang dynasty formed around 1766 BC, although many archaeologists believe it actually began somewhat later than that. ● China ruled by strong monarchy ● At capital city, Anyang, kings surrounded by court ● Rituals performed to strengthen kingdom, keep safe Government and Society ● King’s governors ruled distant parts of kingdom ● King also had large army at disposal ● Prevented rebellions, fought outside opponents Order ● Shang China largely agricultural ● Most tended crops in fields ● Farmers called on to fight in army, work on building projects—tombs, palaces, walls Agricultural Society The Shang Dynasty
  8. 8. Leisure ● Ruling elite had free time to pursue leisure activities, hunting for sport ● Wealthy enjoyed collecting expensive bronze, jade objects Afterlife ● Tombs held remains of sacrificed prisoners of war ● Believed in afterlife where ruler would need riches, servants Artifacts ● Much of what is known comes from studying royal tombs ● Contained valuable items made of bronze, jade Ancestor Worship ● Shang offered gifts to deceased ancestors to keep them happy in afterlife ● Steam from ritual meals nourished ancestors’ spirits Shang Culture
  9. 9. Oracle Bones As part of worship, Shang asked ancestors for advice ● Sought advice through use of oracle bones ● Inscribed bits of animal bone, turtle shell ● Living person asked question of ancestor ● Hot piece of metal applied to oracle bone resulting in cracks on bone’s surface ● Specially trained priests interpreted meaning of cracks to learn answer
  10. 10. Oracle Bones
  11. 11. Writing ● Development of Chinese writing closely tied to use of oracle bones ● Earliest examples of Chinese writing, questions written on bones themselves ● Early Shang texts used picture symbols to represent objects, ideas End of Dynasty ● Shang ruled for more than 600 years, until about 1100 BC ● Ruling China’s growing population proved too much for Shang ● Armies from nearby tribe, Zhou, invaded, established new ruling dynasty Bronze ● Shang religion led to great advances in working with bronze ● Highly decorative bronze vessels, objects created for religious rituals ● Also built huge structures like tombs; created calendar, first money systems Shang Achievements and Decline