From India, we move to ancient China.
This lecture will cover the emergence of
complex civilizations in China.
After reading through the lecture, be sure to view
At the end of the PowerPoint presentation you will find
questions that you should answer on the Discussion Board.
As usual the
discussion postings are due by midnight Sunday.
For more on Ancient China visit:
Early Agriculture and society
As we saw with other early societies, agricultural developments and animal
domestication gave rise to increased populations and paved the way for the
development of cities in China.
Humans have been in East Asia and China since
400, 000 years ago.
Rice was cultivated after 7000 bce and by 5000 bce
Neolithic villages dotted the area around the Yangzi River.
In the north, millet
was grown along the Yellow River by 5000 bce.
Mesopotamian products such as
wheat and barley made their way into China and were under cultivation by 2000
Originally, as we saw previously, people lived in small agricultural villages.
As populations expanded, some grew in size to become major cities. The earliest
culture to develop along the Yellow river was the Yangshoao society – 5000-
Communities within this society dredged the Yellow River to prevent
devastating floods, built dikes, and produced good harvests in the fertile flood
They produced pottery, used bone tools, and organized themselves into
As the populations expanded three major dynasties arose along the
Yellow River – around 2200 bce – which regulated affairs.
Other powerful states
probably also existed but these three occupied the location of later imperial
China’s states, so were considered very important by Chinese historians.
By the 2
millennium large cities had developed into states with governments,
organized societies, and distinct cultures.
Each society was divided into
hierarchies and was patriarchal.
Royal families and nobles ruled over a large
population of commoners.
They lived in huge palaces off of the labor and taxes
of their subjects.
The elite were the only people who could afford the high cost of
bronze – so they had a monopoly on weapons.
Nobles and allies held the
prestigious positions within the military and governments, owned large tracts of
land, had access to educations, owned slaves, and lowly paid peasants to work
They were extremely concerned with manners and published books
of etiquette that governed dining habits, greetings, and behavior in all social
Some craftsmen became well off by producing goods specifically
for the royal family and aristocrats – jade workers, metal smiths, jewelers,
embroiderers and workers of silk textiles.
Peasants labored in the fields with
wooden and bone tools and owned no land.
Women worked in the homes –
small subterranean huts with thatched roofs, men in the fields.
The family was the basic organizing principle of life.