History 383 Civilization of Early China

By Clarence Clark,2014-05-10 08:41
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History 383 Civilization of Early China ...

    History 383 Civilization of Early China

    - China: Prehistory to ca. 750

    - Defining China and Chinese state:



     Thought, Religion, Literature, Historiography



    Prehistory: Palaerolithic, Newlithic Xia


    Zhou (W Zhou and E Zhou)



    Three Kingdoms

    North and South Dynasties




Jan 10 China to ca. 2000 BCE

    ; Geography and Methodology

    ; Prehistory: Peking Man

    ; The Neolithic:



     Erlitou cultures

    On the trail of archaeologists, learning the historian’s craft

    ; Archaeology in China’s prehistory and history

     Daily life

     Material culture

     Confirming historical records

    ; Historiography: writing of the historian and authority of the written


     Use of classics (canon) in writing the history of China

Recent example of archaeological digs

    ; Dec 2007, underwater archaeology th Song (excavation of the 13 century ship that sank in South

    China sea)

    ; April 2009, GPS mapping: Great Wall

    ; Dec 2010, bone soup, 2400 years old, found in Xian tomb

Underwater archaeology: 21/12/07, Nanhai, Song (c. 1200) ship excavated

    off South China Sea

    30m-long vessel found by fishermen in 1996. Looting of ship’s contents

    from 1996 on

Porcelain among 6000 artifacts

    Nanhai to be stored underwater in massive tank in new museum

Geography and Language factors

    Places mentioned often:

    Yellow River

    Yangzi River (Long River, Yangtze River)

    Ch’angan (Xi’an)



    Chinese Dialects: Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese


Yellow River terraced land黄河梯田

    Grand Canal 大运河

    Three Forges project 三峡

    Chibi in Hubei

    Prehistory: Reconstructing history from the archaeological records

Archaeological records:

     Palaeolithic: Old Stone Age

     Neolithic: New Stone Age

130 million years old fossils (fish, plants, insects) smuggled into Canada in

    2003 returned to China 2010-11-15


     Lantian Man 蓝田猿人, Shanxi 670,000 year ago

    Peking Man 北京猿人, 周口店, 400,000 years ago

    Davidson Black (1884-1934) and Peking Man Findings, 1929 Canadian paleoanthropologist

    Professor of neurology and embryology, Peking Union Medical College Peking Man Sinanthropus pekinensis

    Field work at Zhoukoudian, 1927-34

Peking Man, H. erectus (400,000)

    Split bamboo as cutting tools for Peking Man?

     Bio-degradable: thus no bamboo evidence

Neolithic in Henan: flutes, 7000 BCE

    Neolithic writing found in NW China, 8000 years old.大麦地, Ningxia

    Neolithic: 5000 BCE, grain, Hunan Prov.

    Neolithic wooden rice bowl

    Dog was first animal domesticated (from wolves) in China, Neolithic

    Hunting in mixed economy (hunting, gathering, fishing, millet agriculture)

    Next, pig or boar domesticated (for food)

    Bone fishhooks, spears

    Neolithic, stone axe


Neolithic cultures:

    ; Yangshao

    ; Longshan

     Late Longshan: Erlitou (Xia?)

; Hongshan, deity, body of pregnant woman

    ; Jade-coiled dragon, Hongshan culture, 4700-2920 BCE, Shenyang,


    ; Life-size Jade-eyed head of a woman dating from 3,000BCE

     Most ancient deity figure found in China to date? ; Yangshao Pottery

    ; Longshan black pottery 龙山黑瓷

    ; Longshan digs, Pingtou, Shanxi prov 12/10坪头遗址

    ; 5 cave dwellings, 4 potter kilns, 1 burial and 36 ash pits, pottery stone

    and bone tools

    ; Hangzhou, Neolithic jade factory, 4000 BCE

    ; Neolithic Canoe, Hangzhou, 3000BCE, 7m by 5m

    ; Oct 2005 find: Lajia, Qinghai prov, NW China, mummified noodles after

    earthquake/flood. Millet noodles 50cm. C14-dating 4000 years ago.


Jan 17

Neolithic, 7000 BCE-2000BCE



    From Legend to history, 2000BCE-1000BCE

     Xia Dynasty? 2200-1700

     Shang Dynasty, 1700-1045 BCE

Neolithic cultures:

    Yangshao: Villages; colored pottery; fishing; slash and burn agriculture,

    millet; sites at riverbanks; burial practice, domestication of pigs

    Longshan: larger villages; black, wheel-turned, glazed pottery, burial

    practice, some irrigation

     Late Longshan: Erlitou (Xia?)

    Neolithic Canoe, Hangzhou, 3000 BCE 7m by 5m Lajia site burials

    Neolithic Tomb at Dawenkou, 2300 BCE

     Significance of burials? Community kinship

Late Longshan: Erlitou


     Oracle bones




     Xia Dynasty located in Erlitou?

3000-1000BCE: Legend/Mythology: culture heroes and sage kinds

    Chinas first dynastiesL



     Shang culture and civilization

     Sanxingdui Bronzes in Central China

     Taklamakan Mummies in NW China

    Late Neolithic in China : Archaeological finds Legendary history: historical records and mythology

Legendary/history record:

    1 Books or Classics written c. 700 BCE






    2 Historical records by Sima Qian (d.87BCE)

Cultural Heroes

    5 Emperors and 3 sage-kings


    ; His body split up

    ; Head became sun and moon

    ; Body created rivers and land ; Ants on him became human beings

Nuwa女娲: Patched sky

Fuxi伏羲 invented trigrams

Houyi后羿 (Archer Yi)

    ; Shot 9 suns to relieve the land of extreme heat

    ; Perfected pill of immortality ; Wife Change stole the pill

    Shennong神农 = god of agriculture = Emper Yan 炎帝 2838 BCE

    Yellow Emperor: wife brought sericulture Tomb of Yellow Emperor 黄帝陵

    ; Defining Chinese Civilization and culture: Core (Yellow Emperor,

    Chinese, Han)

    ; Against

    ; Periphery (Non-Chinese, Non-Han) ; Yellow Emperors victory over Chiyou (Barbarian) (人弓)man with



    Brought in writing during reign of Yellow Emperor

    Sage-king: Yao = wise king

    Gave throne to Shun,, his son-in-law Shun: filial son

    Yu controlling the floods


Ca 2200 BCE

    ; Yu corresponds to late Neolithic (Erlitou culture) ; Floods were disastrous

    ; Fate of Neolithic noodles: earthquake and flood preserved noodle meal

    for 4000 years

Tomb of Yu: Yu passed throne to son (Son = fist king of Xia dynasty,2200


    Jie () = last king of Xia (e. 1700 BCE)

     Bad kibg made worse by femme fatale Meixi

     Jies wine pond and flesh forest 酒池肉林

Tang() = founder of Shang (1700 BCE)

     Conquered Xia dynasty

1700 BCE onwards:

    Chinese history reconstructed from:

     Archaeological Record + History/Literary Records:

    ; Bronze Age and Beginning of Chinese Civilization

    ; Xia China, 2200-1700 BCE

    ; Erlitou culture: late Longshan

    ; Shang China, 1700-1045 BCE

    Chinese earliest bronze mirror ndBronze pitcher, 10 inches high, dated early 2 millennium BCE = first evidence of Xia Dynastry?

    Xia digs (relics from 2000 BCE)

Shang Archaeologu

City-state sites

    Royal cemeteries

    Bronzes (technology)

    Oracle bone (writing)甲骨文

King Wuding武丁, 1200BCE (宗高殷)

    Look at one of royal cemetery: Fuhao Tomb 妇好墓

    Lady Fuhao 孚好 = one of 64 wives of King Wuding ; Fuhaos tomb contained:


    ; 468 bronze objects including 130 weapons, 23 bells, 27 knives, 4

    mirrors, and 4 tigers or tiger heads

    ; 774 jade objects

    ; 63 stond objects

    ; 5 ivory objects

    ; 564 bone objects including nearly 500 bone hairpins and over 20 bone


    ; 11 pottery objects

    ; 6.900 pieces of cowry shell

Ding Hi: 80.1 cm; Wt: 128 kg

Fuhao;s posthumous title Si Mu司牡 xin inscribed on bronze

     Earliest Chinese historical person identified by both archaeological and historical sources

Adrienne Clarkson

    Former Governor Generals Personal Coat of Arms Phoenix

    Shang civilization: importance in keeping records human affairs and natural world


     Oracle bones

     Bronze inscriptions

    Origins of writing in Neolithic China? Damaidi, Ningxia

Neolithic writing in nw China, 8000 years old?

    Beishan, Damadi, Ningxia

    3,172 cliff carvings

    8,453 individual symbols

    The sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing

    1998, Shandong, sheep bones carbon-dated 1500 BCE with inscriptions:

     (6) (cracking/divinating)

    2001, a discovery in Central Asia, Turkmenistan, yielded a carved stone seal, carbon-dated 2000 BCE: the characters indicating bow tie,

    Unearthed at a mass-burial site at Jiahu in Henan (Neolithic flutes). Twenty-four graves yielded 14 shells bearing 11 different signs. Shang or Yin China, 1700-1045 BCE



Capital moved 7 times nd2 capital at Zhengzhou

    Last capital at Anyang

Anyang, Last Shang capital

     Found: Oracle bones甲骨

     Bronze Vessel


Dragon Bones or Oracle Bones?

    ; Mystery of oxen bones and turtle shells

    ; 1900s, pharmacies selling ground up powder

     Called dragon bones

     Sold as medicine to strengthen spirits and for use as aphrodisiacs James M Menzies

    Canadian missionary in China in 1920s-30s (China Henan Mission) Engineer, pastor, archaeologist

    1932-37: professor of archaeology at Cheeloo University (Shandong, China)

    Collected oracle bones (now at ROM with bishop White collection)

    James solving the mystery of Shang oracle bones (1300 BCE)

Solving the mystery:

    ; Menzies was in Beijing pharmacy

    ; Saw powder sold as dragon bones

    ; Went into the back of the pharmacy, found source of power:

     Oxen bones and turtle shells with cracks and writing

     Went back to his mission in Henan, found piles of such bones

     Corrupt entrepreneurs carted these bones to pharmacies, earned

    handsome sums

Oracle bone = bone+shaman+bronze point

    ; King asks a question

    ; Shaman divinates

    ; Hot bronze point cracks the bone

    ; Cracks are interpreted by shaman

    ; Questions and answers writing on bone or shell

    ; Bone or shell is discarded


The Chinese calendar follows the sequence of the Earthly Branch (right

    column)- rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, fowl,

    dogs and lastly pig.


Shang: political organization

    ; Bonzes and oracle bones show constant concern with political stability

    ; Wats with other cities: nomadic tribes ;

     Bronze chariot, important for war

    Shang was city-state capital moved 7 times Anyang was the last capital

    Bronze ding commemorated conquests

Shang society was stratified

    ; King and aristocrats

    ; Shamans (oracle bone)

    ; Craftsmen

    ; Farmers

    ; Slaves

Daily life for aristocrats:

    ; Monopoly of writing and bronzes:

    ; Drinking wine in bronze vessels and eating with bronze chopsticks

    Daily life for common folks:

    ; No bronzes for agriculture

    Patriarchy and preference for boy children Oracle bone inscription relating to lady Fuhao

Matriarchy in Neolithic and pre-XIa

    ; Yellow Emperor knew his mother but not his father ; Early surnames have woman radical

    ; Ji (imperial surname for Zhou imperial family) ; Jiang (surname of early chief minister)

Shang: Religion

    The kins carried out sacrifices to a supernatural being the god on high,


    Ancestor worship:


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