1. Education
Bronze vessels from Zhou Dynasty  at the Baoji Bronze Museum in Baoji of Shaanxi Province, China.

Bronze vessels from Zhou Dynasty at the Baoji Bronze Museum in Baoji of Shaanxi Province, China.

(Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

The Long-Lasting Chou Dynasty > Basics

The Chou or Zhou dynasty ruled China from about 1027 to about 221 B.C. It was the longest dynasty in Chinese history.

The Chou first coexisted and then fought with the earlier Shang Dynasty, living to the west of them in what is now Shensi Province, with a capital originally in Hao (Zongzhou).

In 722 B.C., the Chou dynasty capital moved east to Luoyang (in modern Henan Province). Its empire was a proto-feudal one with at least 20 "feudal" lords [see feudalism article] maintained by an extended family network. By 771 B.C., the power had shifted, and so the earlier period is now referred to as the Western Chou (Hsi Chou) dynasty and the later period, the Eastern Chou (Tung Chou), which is itself divided into a Spring and Autumn period and a Warring States period.

By the Spring and Autumn period, the power of the king had waned and was split among five hegemons, with the king more a figure head in charge of ancestor worship than an administrator.

During the Chou dynasty in China, ox-drawn ploughs, iron, horseback riding, coinage, chopsticks, and the crossbow were introduced. Roads, canals, and major irrigation projects were developed. The philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism also emerged.

Alternate Spellings: Zhou Dynasty

Examples: "Chinese historians have long recognized ... conflict between theory and fact by dividing the Chou period into early or western Chou..., during which the dynasty really exerted authority, and later or eastern Chou, subdivided into the 'Spring and Autumn' period... during which powerful feudal nobles took over de facto control as 'Protectors,' and the 'Warring States' period..., which was what the name implies."

  • "Periodization of Chinese History," by Meribeth E. Cameron. The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Jun., 1946), pp. 171-177.

Sources include:

  • "Ancient China - The Yellow River Culture" www.wsu.edu:8001/~dee/ANCCHINA/YELLOW.HTM
  • "Timetable of Chinese History" www.yutopian.com/history/

Go to Other Ancient / Classical History Glossary pages beginning with the letter

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | wxyz

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.