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China’s earliest civilization developed along the Huang He (yellow river) river as well as the Yangtze river.
The yellow river flooded unpredictably and provided much needed fertile soil but was called China’s sorrow because when it flooded, dams sometimes broke and killed crops and causing starvation .
The Himalayas to the south kept China’s early civilization Isolated from the Indus valley civilization.
The Gobi Desert in north, jungles in south, Pacific Ocean in East.
The Shang Government 1st Shang Ruler - Shang Tang (Zi Lu). Ruled for around 30 years ~ (circa 1675-1646 BCE)... after overthrowing the tyrant Jie, last emperor of the Xia Dynasty. Tang was a popular ruler who lowered taxes and spread the influence of his kingdom along the Yellow River. He established Anyang as the new capital and lowered the number of conscripted soldiers. Tang's reign was plagued by a series of droughts and, in the 21st year of his reign, he minted gold coins to be given to the poor so they could buy back their children sold to finance their survival.
Religious Beliefs – The ancient Chinese were like earlier other river valley civilizations in that they were Polytheistic They prayed to many gods and nature spirits, but believed that gods would not respond to the pleas of mere mortals. Therefore, the Chinese began Ancestral Worship because it was believed that they could get the ears of the gods .
The Shang Dynasty
Religious ceremonies also featured human sacrifice when a king was buried or when a new palace was being consecrated. Bad fortune such as crop failure, disease, drought or pestilence was considered a sign that the gods were angry. In this instance, the king was expected to determine which god was the unhappy one and make sacrifice to appease him! Worshipped "Shang Di" ("The Lord on High"). This god was the supreme being that ruled over the elements (e.g. rain, sun, wind) and could bring disaster (drought, famine, disease etc) as well as good fortune in the form of favorable conditions for the community. Shang Di was too powerful to communicate directly with so other gods could intercede on behalf of the people. The Shang Dynasty
The Oracle Bone
[Charge:] In the next ten days will there be a disaster? [Prognostication:] The king, reading the cracks, said, "There will be no harm; there will perhaps be the coming of alarming news." [Verification:] When it came to the fifth day, ding-you , there really was the coming of alarming news from the west. Zhi Guo, reporting, said, "The Du Fang [a border people] are besieging in our eastern borders and have harmed two settlements." The Gong-fang also raided the fields of our western borders.
China: Shang on the Huang Shang: 1700-1100 BCE
Aristocrats and bureaucrats directed the work and life of the Shang.
Warfare a constant feature.
Most commoners worked as semi free serfs in agriculture. Others were artisans, craftsmen.
In 1027 B.C a group of people claiming ancestry to the Zhou family marched out of their kingdom on the western frontier to overthrow the Shang. They set up the Zhou Dynasty .
To justify their rebellion against the Shang, the Zhou promoted the idea of the Mandate of Heaven , or the divine right to rule . In other words, they believed that their ancestors chose them to rule .
The Zhou rewarded their supporters by granted them control over different regions. This is called Feudalism in which local lords governed their own lands and owed loyalty in return.