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Shang dynasty

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**Shang Dynasty Origins and Mythology:**
– Traditional accounts from Chinese classics and historical texts like the Book of Documents and the Bamboo Annals
– Founding myth surrounding Xie and the Great Flood, incorporating supernatural elements
– Tang’s overthrow leading to the establishment of the Shang dynasty
– Movement of the Shang capital and the defeat by Wu of Zhou in the Battle of Muye

**Shang Dynasty Descendants and Archaeology:**
– Forced relocation of Yin diehards and change of surname to Yin by surviving royal family members
– Enfeoffment of Shang descendants by the Zhou dynasty and integration into Yan culture
– Major archaeological sites like Erlitou, Zhengzhou, and Anyang, with the discovery of bronze ritual vessels
– Importance of archaeological evidence in verifying the existence of the Shang dynasty

**Shang Dynasty in Historical Context:**
– Court life, governance, and administration, including the role of officials and the proto-bureaucracy
– Shang religious rituals, divination, and elaborate burial tombs for rulers
– Bronze working advancements, large-scale production, and the impact on military equipment
– Oracle bones, historical records, and differences in genealogy between the two sources

**Shang Dynasty Cultural Exchange and Trade:**
– Influence of northern peoples on Shang culture, including artifacts and interactions in Anyang
– Trade networks, war, and intermarriage facilitating cultural exchange and the presence of northern artifacts in Shang royal burials
– Spread of Erligang culture and the introduction of chariots in China from the northwest
– Scholarly works contributing to the understanding of the Shang dynasty

**Shang Dynasty Chronology and Discoveries:**
– Absolute chronology and proposed end dates for the Shang dynasty, including radiocarbon dating of oracle bones
– Late Shang period at Anyang, with fully developed writing systems, musical instruments, and human sacrifice practices
– Yinxu site in the Yellow River valley confirming the historical existence of the Shang dynasty
– Recent archaeological discoveries providing insights into the origins of Chinese civilization and the cultural transmission revealed in Fu Hao’s tomb at the Yin ruins

Shang dynasty (Wikipedia)

The Shang dynasty (Chinese: 商朝; pinyin: Shāng cháo), also known as the Yin dynasty (Chinese: 殷代; pinyin: Yīn dài), was a Chinese royal dynasty that ruled in the Yellow River valley during the second millennium BC, traditionally succeeding the Xia dynasty and followed by the Western Zhou dynasty. The classic account of the Shang comes from texts such as the Book of Documents, Bamboo Annals and Records of the Grand Historian. Modern scholarship dates the dynasty between the 16th to 11th centuries BC, with more agreement surrounding the end date than beginning date.


c. 1600 BCc. 1046 BC
Approximate territory of the Shang dynasty within present-day China
Approximate territory of the Shang dynasty within present-day China
Common languagesOld Chinese
Shang spiritual religion
• c. 1600 BC
Tai Yi
• c. 1250 – 1191 BC
Wu Ding
• c. 1075 – 1046 BC
King Zhou
Historical eraBronze Age
• Established
c. 1600 BC
• Zhou conquest
c. 1046 BC
c. 1122 BC1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Xia dynasty
Zhou dynasty
Today part ofChina
"Shang" in oracle bone script (top left), bronze script (top right), seal script (bottom left), and regular script (bottom right) forms
Hanyu PinyinShāng
Alternative Chinese name
Hanyu PinyinYīn

The Shang dynasty is the earliest dynasty of traditional Chinese history firmly supported by archaeological evidence. Excavation at the last Shang capital Yinxu, near modern-day Anyang, uncovered eleven major royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual sites, containing weapons of war and remains from both animal and human sacrifices. Tens of thousands of bronze, jade, stone, bone, and ceramic artifacts have been found.

The Anyang site has yielded the earliest known body of Chinese writing, mostly divinations inscribed on oracle bones – turtle shells, ox scapulae, or other bones. More than 20,000 were discovered in the initial scientific excavations during the 1920s and 1930s, and over four times as many have been found since. The inscriptions provide critical insight into many topics from the politics, economy, and religious practices to the art and medicine of this early stage of Chinese civilization.

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