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known as the Warring States period after a
new lands and plowed
chronicle of the same name treating the
deeper, raising yields and
years from 401 to 256 B.C.E. By the fifth
century B.C.E., all defensive alliances
had collapsed. Strong states swallowed
surpluses. Irrigation and
their weaker neighbors. The border
drainage canals became
states grew in size and power. Interstate
important for the first time.
stability disappeared. By the fourth cenSerfs gave way to independtury B.C.E., only eight or nine great territorial
ent farmers, who bought and
states remained as contenders. The only quessold land. By the third century B.C.E.,
China had about 20 million people, maktion was which one would defeat the others
ing it the most populous country in the
and go on to unify China.
world, a distinction it has never lost.
Three basic changes in Chinese society
A second development, which would concontributed to the rise of large territorial Bronze Vessel from the Shang
Dynasty. The little elephant on top forms
tinue for several centuries, was the rise of
states. One was the expansion of population
the handle of the lid. Wine was poured
commerce. Roads built for war were used by
and agricultural lands. The walled cities of the through the spout formed by the big
merchants. Goods were transported by horses,
Shang and Western Zhou had been like oases elephant’s trunk. The Freer Gallery of Art,
oxcarts, riverboats, and the camel, which enin the wilds, bounded by plains, marshes, and Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
tered China in the third century B.C.E. The
forests. Game was plentiful; thus, hunting,
products of one region were traded for those of another. Copalong with sheep and cattle breeding, supplemented agriculper coins joined bolts of silk and precious metals as media of
ture. But in the Eastern Zhou, as population grew, wilds
exchange. Rich merchants rivaled in lifestyle the landowning
began to disappear, the economy became almost entirely agrilower nobility. New outer walls were added to cities to provide
cultural, and hunting became an aristocratic pastime. Friction
for expanded merchant quarters. Bronze bells and mirrors,
arose over boundaries as states began to abut. These changes
clay figurines, lacquer boxes, and musical instruments found
in late Zhou tombs give ample evidence that the material and
artistic culture of China leaped ahead during this period, deYEN
spite its endemic wars.
A third change that doomed the city-state was the rise
of a new kind of army. The war chariots of the old aristocJIN
racy, practical only on level terrain, gave way to cavalry
armed with crossbows. Most of the fighting was done by
conscript foot soldiers. Armies of the territorial states numH
bered in the hundreds of thousands. The old nobility gave
way to professional commanders. The old aristocratic etiR.
quette, which governed behavior even in battle, was supzi
planted by military tactics that were bloody and ruthless.
Prisoners were often massacred.
Change also affected gov...
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This document was uploaded on 04/03/2014.
- Spring '14