River Systems Huang He (“Yellow River”) in north, Yangtze in south Huang He leaves loess— fertile silt—when it floods Unpredictable flooding
Environmental Challenges Huang He floods can devour whole villages ▪ Nicknamed “China’s Sorrow” Geographic isolation means lack of trade; must be self-sufficient Only about 10% of land is suitable for farming China’s Heartland North China Plain, area between two rivers, center of civilization
The First Dynasties Around 2000 B.C.E., cities arise; Yu, first ruler of Xia Dynasty Yu’s flood control system tames Huang He Shang Dynasty, 1700 to 1027 B.C.E., first to leave written records King Yu “Conquering the Yellow River equates to controlling the whole of China.”
Early Cities Built cities of wood, such as Anyang—one of its capital cities Upper classes live inside city; poorer people live outside Shang cities have massive walls for military defense Elaborate palaces and tombs
Chinese Civilization Sees China as center of world; views others as uncivilized The group is more important than the individual Family Family is central social institution; respect for parents a virtue Elder males control family property Women expected to obey all men, even sons Social Classes King and warrior-nobles lead society and own the land
Religious Beliefs Spirits of dead ancestors can affect family fortunes Oracle bones used to consult gods; supreme god, Shang Di ▪ Priests scratch questions on animal bones and tortoise shells
Development of Writing Writing system uses characters to represent ideas ▪ Combinations of characters were used to convey more complex ideas ▪ Character for a tree was one ▪ Forest = Set of 3 trees People of different languages can use same system ▪ No link between spoken and written word ▪ Unites them Huge number of characters make system difficult to learn
Similarities allows for scholars to read the ancient writings today.
Bronzeworking Massive caldrons ▪ Used for offerings Bells Silk
The Zhou Take Control In 1027 B.C., Zhou Dynasty takes control of China Mandate of Heaven The belief that a just ruler had divine approval Developed as justification for change in power to Zhou Dynastic Cycle—pattern of the rise and decline of dynasties
Control Through Feudalism Feudalism—system where kings give land to nobles in exchange for services Over time, nobles grow in power and begin to fight each other
Improvements in Technology and Trade Zhou Dynasty builds roads, canals to improve transportation Uses coins to make trade easier Produces cast iron tools and weapons; food production increases Ancient Coins from China
A period of Warring States Peaceful, stable Zhou empire rules from around 1027 to 256 B.C. In 771 B.C.E., nomads sack the Zhou capital, murder monarch Luoyang becomes new capital, but internal wars destroy traditions
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