Chapter 3 - Chapter 3: China in Antiquity Human communities...

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Chapter 3: China in Antiquity Chapter 3: China in Antiquity Human communities have existed in China for several hundred thousand years Simple Neolithic communities hardly more than villages, but became more complex societies Yellow and Yangtze River valleys the core regions in development of Chinese civilization Only 12 percent of the total land area is arable; rest mountains and deserts Geography a dominant feature of Chinese life and history Over the next two thousand years, the northern frontier became one of the great fault lines of conflict in Asia as Chinese attempted to protect precious farmlands from the marauding peoples When China unified and blessed with capable rulers , it could usually keep them out The Shang Dynasty Beginning of Chinese civilization at the Xia (Hsia) dynasty more than four thousand years ago Xia dynasty was replaced by a second dynasty, the Shang, around sixteenth century BC Shang dynasty was agricultural society ruled by aristocratic class; major occupation was war Appearance of chariots in China in the mid-second millennium BC coincided roughly with similar developments elsewhere Shang king responsible for defense and controlled large armies Chinese ruling elite believed in the existence of supernatural forces ; thought that they could communicate with those forces to obtain divine intervention King was viewed as an intermediary between heaven and earth Classes were becoming increasingly differentiated ; aristocrats not only made war and served as officials, but they were also the primary landowners; mostly peasants Small number of merchants, artisans, slaves Shang were best known for their mastery of the art of bronze Created a sophisticated writing system that evolved into written language still used today 11 th century BC: Shang dynasty overthrown by an aggressive young state Zhou (Chou) which lasted for 800 years and became the longest-lived dynasty in Chinese history Last of the Shang rulers was a tyrant who oppressed the people and caused the ruler of the Zhou principality to revolt and establish a new dynasty Zhou dynasty (1045-221 BC) Zhou dynasty believed it ruled China through mandate of Heaven King ruled as a representative of Heaven ( cosmic order ) but not as a divine being King was responsible for governing the people with compassion and efficiency ; to appease the gods to protect the people from natural calamities or bad harvests. By 6
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Chapter 3 - Chapter 3: China in Antiquity Human communities...

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