• The Shang were the first literate culture in
East Asia and are well known for crafting
ornate bronze ritual vessels. They were also
China's first administrators, developing a
coherent bureaucracy for their empire, and
were able to marshall the human labor
required to build rammed earth walls such as
those found at the Huanbei Shang City.
• According to legend, the
Shang Dynasty was founded
sometime around 1600 BCE
by a virtuous man named
Cheng Tang, who overthrew
the evil king of the
• Tang’s given name is Lu.
One of his ancestors is
identified as Yilu, who was
married to Jiandi, the
daughter of Gaoxin. Yilu had
a son called Yao Situ, who
was appointed as vassel by
the Xia King for his
contribution to the people.
Thirteen generations later,
Tang’s father was born. He
was named Zhugui.
• Cheng Tang
• Wài Bǐng
• Wò Jiǎ
• Zǔ Xīn
• Zǔ Yǐ
The Shang Dynasty was
a monarchy governed by a series of kings, 29 or
30 in total, over the
course of almost 600 years.
Why was the Shang Dynasty
nicknamed The Lost City?
• The largest walled city of the Shang Dynasty,
possibly one of the capitals of the empire, has
been unearthed at Anyang in northern China.
The city dates to the Middle Shang period (ca.
1450-1250 B.C.), a little understood time in
the study of Shang culture.
• Four rammed earth walls that enclosed 1,160
acres of area. Now named the Huanbei Shang
City (Huanbei means north of the Huan River).
• The oracle bones
are flat bones,
shells or cattle ribs
blades, that were
used by the Shang
rulers for divining
• It is known that the Shāng
people also wrote with brush
and ink, as brush-written graphs
have been found on a small
number of pottery, shell and
bone, and jade and other stone
items, and there is evidence
that they also wrote on bamboo
(or wooden) books just like
those found from the late Zhōu
to Hàn periods, because the
graphs for a writing brush and
bamboo book (冊 cè, a book of
thin vertical slats or slips with
horizontal string binding, like a
Venetian blind turned 90
degrees) are present in the
oracle bone script.
• There were mainly agriculture, hunting and
animal husbandry as the economic forms in
Shang dynasty. A number of ceremonial
bronze vessels with inscriptions date from the
Shang period; the workmanship on the
bronzes attests to a high level of civilization.
Why was it one of the greatest Asian
• Shang Yang was not only a political but also a military
leader. He led victorious Qin forces against Wei at the Battle
of Maling in 341 B.C.E.
• The following year, he showed a distinct Machiavellian
touch when he persuaded the duke Xiao that the state of
Wei should be the prime target for a military campaign
because of its proximity and potential danger.
• The duke agreed and sent Shang Yang with an army to
attack Wei. Shang Yang persuaded Ang, the Wei
commander, to parley a truce.
• Having agreed to a covenant of peace, he then had his
guards capture Ang and launched a successful onslaught
against the Wei army. This led to their retreat, the
abandonment of Anyi, and the ceding of land.
• One site of the Shang capitals, later historically called
the Ruins of Yin (殷墟), is near modern day Anyang.
Archaeological work there uncovered 11 major Yin
royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual
sites, containing weapons of war and remains of
animal and human sacrifices.
• Tens of thousands of bronze, jade, stone, bone and
ceramic artifacts have been obtained; the
workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of
civilization. In terms of inscribed oracle bones alone,
more than 20,000 were discovered in the initial
scientific excavations in the 1920s to 1930s, and over
four times as many have since been found.
• Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties has been called
bronze dynasty in China's history. The
production technique of Shand was the most
advanced in the same age among other parts
of the world. The bronze of Shang was not
only an intruments of drinking or keeping, it
was also a kind of culture, which can reflect
many aspects of the age.
• The products of bronze was
mainly used by the noble
families and the emperors and
loyal members. They seemed
the bronze as a sign that have
higher social position. It was
said that a 830 kilograms of
bronze pot was made by two
to three hundred workers.
• The Shang worshipped the “Shang Di,” who was
the supreme god that ruled over the lesser gods
of the sun, the moon, the wind, the rain, and
other natural forces and places.
• They also worshipped their ancestors because
they believed that although their ancestors lived
in heaven after their death, they were still
actively involved in the affairs of family and
• The kings
their ancestors using
oracle bones and
sacrifices to them.
• As in many other
sacrificed animals to
royal ancestors and
to various nature
gods, using human
and animal sacrifices
to ask the ancestors
or gods for help and
to feed the ancestors
or gods to keep them
• The Battle of Muye is a decisive battle in
the course of King Wu’s punitive
expedition against the despotic King Zhou.
At that time, the Shang Dynasty was under
the rule of King Zhou who implemented
tyranny and resulted in corruptive politics,
sufferings of common people, intra-
aristocrat conflict, and turbulence of the
whole society. In the meantime, Zhou, a
principality of Shang was increasingly
powerful. King Wen of the Western Zhou
Dynasty and his son King Wu then
launched a battle of “Expedition against
Zhou“ in the name of King Zhou’s cruelty.
Under this circumstance, King Zhou had no
choice but to head for Muye in person to
meet enemies from the neighboring
• . Before the battle, the army of
Zhou went into camps in Muye
and took a mass pledge which
is called “Mu Pledge“ in
history. During the battle,
slaves and prisoners of war in
the army of Shang supported
King Wu inwardly and turned
around their daggers and
spears successively to assist
the army of Zhou. Under their
joint effort, over ten thousand
soldiers in the army of
Shang had fallen apart.
Realizing that nothing could be
done to save the situation,
King Zhou escaped in a panic
to the capital Chaoge on the
same night and mounted onto
the hathpace, burning himself
• The Shang Dynasty
thus came to an end
and the Zhou
with its capital
located in Gaojing in
the Weihe River
• The rulers of Shang Dynasty attached great importance to
agriculture. Fishing began to grow as an industry as the people
fished in the fresh waters.
• In the handicraft industry, the work was subtly allotted to many
different workers and crafts were made in large quantities and
varieties, showcasing the different techniques used during this
time. The bronze wares in particular reached a high level of artistry
that signified the advanced civilization of Shang Dynasty. The most
famous bronze work from this time is the Simuwu Quadripod,
weighing 832.84 kg (about 1836 pounds) it is the largest and
heaviest Chinese bronze vessel. Porcelain wares were also invented
during this time, the jade carving techniques were of the highest
quality and the woven silk fabrics displayed the great skill and
capabilities of the artisans.
• With the grown of the agriculture and handicraft industries, the
commodity exchange was promoted and the role of the commodity
exchange dealer began to appear in the late Shang Dynasty.
Culture and Arts
• In the field of music, there was also great progress. The
improvements in the bronze casting techniques allowed for delicate
musical instruments to be made. In Yin Xu (Yin Yuins) in Xiao Tun
Village of Anyang City, archeologists discovered musical instruments
of the Shang Dynasty including: Xun (Ocarina made of baked clay),
drums, and copper cymbals.
• Great advancements can also be seen in the written characters of
Shang Dynasty which are considered the oldest Chinese written
form for communication. The characters were usually carved on
tortoise shells, animal bones, bronze wares or some other utensils.
Many Oracle Script pieces that have been found in the Yin Ruins
offer us many important events happened during that period.
• The sculpture produced during this time was also
superb. Various kinds of patterns were carved on
bronze, jade, and pottery wares. On other goods, like
stones, animal bones, and horns, fine pictures can also
• In terms of beliefs, the people of the Shang Dynasty
believed that God dominates the world. They also
worshipped their ancestors, the sun, the moon, the
river, and the earth and sacrifice ceremonies were
typically grand events. In addition, the art of fortune
telling was popular during this time.
• The Oracle Scripts contain records about solar
and lunar eclipses, stars and other celestial
happenings. The records clearly demonstrate
great advancements in astronomy. During this
time, the calendar system continued to
advance and in the area of math, people
performed elementary accounting distinctions
between odd and even numbers appeared.