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Shang Dynasty Profile | Shang Dynasty Basics

We know of the Shang Dynasty (traditionally, c. 1766-c.1050 B.C.), because there is archaeological evidence from this Bronze Age civilization, including oracle bones and bronze artifacts. Legend says it began when T'ang overthrew the last and decadent Xia emperor, Chieh.

The Shang built city-states in northeastern China, around the Yellow River, for which reason they are called the Yellow River Civilization. Different city-states served as the capital for different rulers.

The Shang worshiped Shang Ti 'Lord on high', ruler or the heavens, gods, and mankind.

Farming improved during the period and spades, sickles, and stone ploughs were used, mostly for millet and wheat. There were usually well-watered fields, with no evidence of irrigation until the Chou Dynasty, but oracle bones suggest there might have been rice cultivation since there is a character for rice. [See History of Rice, from Kris Hirst, Archaeology Guide.] There may have been cultivation of sorghum. The king announced when it was time to plant. There was a 12-month 360-day calendar with recognition of the need to adjust to the solar cycle by means of intercalary months.

The Chou (Zhou) dynasty followed the Shang.

During the period of the Shang Dynasty in China, the Minoan Civilization was going strong in the Aegean, the Hebrews went to and left Egypt, and there was an Olmec civilization in Central America.

Source: (www.wsu.edu/~dee/ANCCHINA/SHANG.HTM) World Civilizations - The Shang

On rice, see "Some Problems of Shang Culture and Institutions: A Review Article," by Ping-ti Ho. Pacific Affairs, Vol. 34, No. 3. (Autumn, 1961), pp. 291-297.

For a look at other dynasties in China, see Periods of Ancient China

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