GEOGRAPHYArchaeologists pinpointtwo areas as thebeginnings of Chinesecivilization: the YellowRiver and the YangtzeRiver. The areabetween these riversemerged as one of thegreatest food-producing areas of theancient world.The Xia (Syah) dynastywas founded over 4000years ago in this areaand was replaced bythe Shang dynasty inabout 1750 BCE.Only 10% of China is suitable for farming, as most ofthe land is mountains and deserts. China is surroundedby mountains and oceans that keep the people of Chinaisolated from other people. Like Egypt, this led to longperiods of peace and prosperity.There were areas in conflict, however – especially thenorthern border with Mongolia, where battles over landand territory occurred.
SHANG DYNASTYThe Shang Dynasty ruled from approximately 1750 BCEuntil 1122 BCE.During the Shang Dynasty, farmers were ruled by thearistocracy (upper class) whose main concern was war.Power and wealth was passed down through families fromone generation to another.Archaeologists have found evidence the Shang Dynastymay have had as many as five different capital citiesbefore settling on Anyang, just north of the Yellow River.The Shang King ruled from Anyang. Thecountry was divided into territoriesgoverned by aristocratic warlords whodefended their territories. The kingcontrolled large armies that defended thenation.
SHANG DYNASTY – RELIGION & CULTURE The early Chinese had a strong belief in lifeafter death. They conducted human sacrifices inan effort to win the favor of the gods. Eventuallythis belief in the afterlife would develop into theveneration (worship) of ancestors. The Shang had a mastery of bronze casting.With bronze they made pots, vases, urns,weapons, and other objects. Many bronzeobjects have been found in tombs under urbancenters throughout Shang China.
DYNASTY CYCLE IN CHINAThe Zhou Dynasty overthrew theShang and set up their owndynasty in 1027 BCE.The Zhou justified their takeoverby claiming they had a Mandateof Heaven, or a divine right torule. The Mandate of Heaven wasused to explain the DynasticCycle. A dynasty would remain inpower only as long as it wasproviding good government.When a dynasty went into declineand abused its power, it was saidto lose the Mandate of Heaven. Anew leader would emerge andclaim the Mandate and establisha new dynasty. Then the dynasticcycle would begin again.
ZHOU DYNASTY1122 BCE – 256 BCEThe Zhou dynasty was the longest-lasting in Chinese history. The Zhou rulerscontinued the political system of the Shang dynasty, with a king at the top and agovernment bureaucracy to help the king rule.Kings who got their power through the Mandate of Heaven were expected torule according to the proper “way”, called the Dao. It was the king‟s duty to keepthe gods pleased in order to protect the people.The idea of the Dao in ruling meant that the Chinese had the right to revolt anykingwho was corrupt or abused his power.The Zhou Dynasty declined when the city-states becamestronger and challenged the ruler with civil war. The rulershad declined morally and intellectually, and in 403 BCEcivil war broke out, beginning a period known as “ThePeriod of the Warring States”. In 221 BCE, the Qin (Chin)took control of China and created a new dynasty.
LIFE IN THE ZHOU DYNASTY Under the Zhou, the Chinese discovered how to makesilk from the cocoons of silkworms. Silk would becomeChina‟s most valuable export, eventually linking them withmost of the world through trade. Chinese artisans alsoexcelled in book making. The first books were made bybinding together long, thin strips of wood or bamboo.Chinese scholars would then carefully paint characters onwith brush and ink. The earliest book, Book of Songs,which includes a poetry describing a variety of Chineselife.
LIFE IN THE ZHOU DYNASTY• Life during the Zhou Dynasty– The Aristocracy owned the landand the peasants worked landowned by the lord. Towns hadmerchants who were „owned‟by the lord like slaves. TheChinese traded along the SilkRoad.• The Family in Ancient China– The family was the basiceconomic and social unit. FilialPiety: son or daughter gives uppersonal needs to serve malefamily head. Farming requiredthe entire family, and sonsinherited from their fathers. Menwere the head of the family..Women were subordinates, butin the royal family had someinfluence.• Economic & TechnologicalGrowth– 6th-3rd centuries BCE were a timeof growth. Irrigation controlledwater, iron plowshares increasedfood, Silk was traded.• The Chinese Written Language– Chinese is a primarilypictographic language, whichmeans picture symbols are usedto represent an idea. When 2 ormore pictographs are used torepresent an idea it is calledideographic writing. Most otherlanguages started using symbolsthat represented phonetics, orletter sounds. China has nevercompletely abandoned usingpictures in their writing.
CHINESE EMPIRES: QIN DYNASTY221 BCE – 170 CE Qin Dynasty: 221-206 BCE Legalism was adopted by the Qin leaders. The government was centralized with three key parts: Civil Bureaucracy Military Censorate (Inspectors who kept tabs on the civil workers) China was divided into provinces and counties. Members of the CivilBureaucracy were appointed, with censors watching the civil servants. Qin had a strong foreign policy and extended the Chinese border to theSouth The Great Wall: the Xiongnu beganinvading from the north, near the GobiDesert. Qin Shihuangdi (the Chineseruler) began building the Great Wall toprotect China. “The Wall of TenThousand Li” a li = 1/3 of a mile.The Fall of theQin Dynasty: Afterthe first ruler, thedynasty wasoverthrown,followed by civilwar.One of the most unusualdiscoveries from the Qinperiod is the Terra-cottaArmy. Archaeologistsbelieve the army wascreated to accompany theQin emperor in death.
CHINESE EMPIRES: THE HAN DYNASTY202 BCE – 220 CEPolitical Structure: TheHan dynasty got rid ofLegalism and harsh politicalpolicies, but kept division ofcentral government into 3ministries: military, civil andcensorate. During the HanDynasty, Civil servants hadto pass an exam to work forthe government.Expansion of the Empire:Stretched to northernVietnamSociety in the Han Empire:The Han dynasty was a time ofprosperity throughout China.There was one group, however,who suffered: free peasants.Their taxes were low, but theywere expected to providemilitary service and forced laborup to one month a year.The expansion of the population caused areduction in the amount of land owned by freepeasants – they did not have enough land toprovide their families with food and were oftenforced to sell their land to wealthy nobles, makingthem tenant farmers on the land.
HAN DYNASTY Technology: New technologies helped the Handynasty prosper. The Chinesedeveloped textile manufacturing(making cloth), water mills, andship rudders and aft rigging,making it easier to sail and trade.Trade expanded and Chinaincreased its wealth. The most notable technology wasthe invention of paper during theHan dynasty.Silk ManufacturingShip rudders (at bottomleft) helped steer ships.Water mills wereused for grindinggrain and casting iron
FALL OF THE HAN DYNASTY – 220 CE The Han empire declined over a long period oftime. Their rulers became corrupt and worriedmore about their royal court than the Chinesepeople. The landed aristocracy – noble families– began to replace the central government asthe force of power in China. By 170 CE, warsand uprisings brought about the collapse of theHan dynasty. In 190, rebels sacked the Hancapital. China was again plunged into civil warand the next great dynasty would not arise for400 years.
PHILOSOPHY/RELIGION IN EARLY CHINA• Daoism– Based on theteachings of Laozithe Old Master, wholived at the sametime as Confucius.The Way of the Daoare the writings ofDaoism. Daoismdoes not care aboutthe concerns of theUniverse (where wecome from), butlooks at how weshould act while weare here. To followthe will of Heaven isto do nothing.People should actspontaneously andlet nature take itscourse.• Legalism– Unlike Confucianismof Dao, thisphilosophy professedthat humans wereevil and we couldonly be on thecorrect path if givenharsh laws withharsh punishments.This was a systemof impersonal laws.Rulers needed tocreate order becausepeople were notcapable of beinggood. A fear ofpunishment wouldcause people toserve the ruler.• Confucianism– Confucius was a real manthat wanted to be apolitical advisor. He iscalled “Master Kung,” thefirst teacher. His thoughtswere recorded in theAnalects. His interest inphilosophy was politicaland ethical, but notspiritual. He felt that aperson should behave inthe way of the „Dao‟. Hebelieved governmentshould be run by superiormen.Important Concepts:Duty: all people had to setaside their needs for thefamily/society. Work hard andimprove life on Earth.Humanity: Compassion andempathy for others: “measurethe feelings of others by onesown”.Simply put, it seems that Confuciuswas more interested in how to getwhat one wants out of life, and how tobehave in society. In contrast toConfucius, Lao Tzu (Laozi) was moreinterested in being in harmony withthe world around him.Yang Shang, founder of legalism
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