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Early Chinese Civiization

Early Chinese Civiization - ,andithasa 1) togeography.

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Early Chinese Civilization Chinese civilization may be the oldest continuous one in world history, and it has a number of enduring characteristics. 1) The uniqueness and distinctiveness of Chinese civilization is due at least in part to geography. It is location at the eastern end of Eurasia and is bounded by mountains, deserts, and steppes. To the north is Siberia, and to the east is the Pacific Ocean. 2) Further characteristic of Chinese civilization has been its ability to have less civilized invaders who then absorbed Chinese culture and the language rather than the other way around, as was frequently the case in India. 3) Also important was the secular nature of Chinese civilization; it never produced a priestly class that had an important political role. 4)In addition, Chinese culture stresses the social rather than the individual life of human beings, thus emphasizing, as we will see in our discussion of Confucianism, the importance of relations between members of a family or between subject and king. 5) Finally, again as we shall see, the Chinese invented (thousands of years before other nations) a unique and stabilizing institution—a civil service recruited by means of public competitive examinations—that lasted into the twentieth century. Hence, unlike the discontinuities and fragmentation of Indian civilization, Chinese civilization is characterized by cultural as well as political cohesion and continuity. Neolithic China: Early neolithic agricultural villages appeared in China’s Yellow River Valley about 4,000BC. Others developed along other rivers like the Huai and the Yangtze. The earliest crop was millet, followed by millet, rice, wheat, cabbage, and soybeans, among others. Early Chinese also domesticated animals, made pots for the storage of grain and liquids, and owned weapons. Little is known about religious beliefs or practices, although it is thought that ancestor worship was important. The Urban Revolution (with the invention of civilizations similar to those in the Indus, Tigris‐Euphrates, and Nile valleys) may have occurred about 2,000 BC, but the details are sketchy, largely because extensive archeological excavations have not been undertaken. Early Chinese history is traditionally divided into three dynasties: 1) the Hsia [=SHEE‐uh] (ca. 2205‐1766 BC); 2) the Shang (ca. 1766‐1050BC);
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3) the Chou (ca. 1050‐256BC). Until the 20th century, most historians assumed the first two were mythical, but the discovery of Shang cities has forced a re‐evaluation and the suggestion the Hsia may also be real; its legendary founder is named Yu the Great. Nonetheless, little is known about it, except for legends describing the cruelty of the Hsia princes. The Shang Dynasty (ca. 1766-1050): The Hsia Dynasty was overthrown by members of the Shang family led by the perhaps mythical king T’ang, who according to early records was called upon by Heaven to oust the Hsia rulers. Located near the Yellow River, Shang civilization centered on great city‐states like the capital Anyang
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  • Rostankowski,Cynthia
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