China’s geography played an important role in its development. China is about the same size as the United States. There are several physical barriers that separates China from its neighbors
Over much of China’s north is a vast desert called the Gobi Desert. To the west is a large area of mountains.
The Himalayas are a very large mountain range that extends over much of southwestern China. Ancient China was isolated from the rest of the world.
To the east there are low lying plains that make up a very fertile region for farming.
Two great rivers flow from west to east. The Huang He and the Chang Jiang. Like other rivers, they would often flood leaving fertile silt on the land.
In 2200 BC a series of dynasties began to rule China.
Dynasty : a series of rulers from the same family.
The first family that ruled were the Xia .
The first ruler of the Xia was Yu the Great.
In the 1500s BC , a new family rose to power- the Shang . They ruled with a monarchy . The king would have advisors who helped him rule.
Social Class (Shang)
King, royal family, nobles, warriors Craftworkers Farmers Slaves Shang Social Order
Innovations and Inventions (Shang)
China’s first writing system. It contained over 2000 symbols to represent ideas and words.
Oracle Bones Priests would carve writing on animal bones or turtle shells asking the gods about the future.
The bones would then be heated and cooled resulting in cracks. The priest would read the cracks and ‘predict’ the future and then would advise the king.
The Shang also began to work in bronze. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin. The artisans ( craftworkers ) would make beautiful bronze containers for cooking and religious ceremonies.
They also made axes, knives, and ornaments from a stone called jade.
The Shang also used bronze body armor , powerful bows and war chariots in their armies.
Chinese practiced an ancestor-worship where they would call upon their ancestors to help them.
In the 1100s BC the Zhou came into power. They believed they had the Mandate of Tien or Heaven to rule. According to this rule, the supreme god supported good rulers of the Zhou.
This Mandate of Heaven would only support good kings. If a king was found to be bad, then Heaven would support another leader. Using this philosophy they rebelled against the Shang.
The Zhou introduced a new system of government called feudalism . The king would grant land to war leaders called lords, and in return they would have to give their loyalty to the king and provide military support. The lords would grant land to farmers, and in return they would have to work some of the land for the lords and serve in their armies.
Emperor Nobles Nobles Farmers Farmers Gives land to nobles Gives land to the farmers Zhou Feudal Society
Emperor Nobles Nobles Farmers Farmers Farmers farm for the lords and serve in their armies Give their loyalty and provide military support Zhou Feudal Society
Zhou Social Order Emperor Lords ( landowners) Farmers or Peasants