China Before it was China • September 10, 2013
Review • How do we define “Asia”? • How has geography influenced Asian history? • Which religion spread across most of Asia? • How much linguistic diversity is there in Asia?
Homo Sapiens Emerges • Homo hablis (handy man) -- lived 2.5 million years ago until 1 million years ago or so. • Homo erectus -lived from 1 million years ago to 100,000 years ago or so (some say as late as 35,000 years ago) Beijing Man (Pyŏngyang man?) • Homo sapiens: anatomically modern 100,000 yrs ago. Behaviorally modern around 50,000 yrs ago --buried their dead, created cave art, had language capability • Our ancestors left Africa about 50,000 years ago. There were at most 5,000 in that group. They moved through the Middle East to India and then spread out through the rest of Asia. There may not have been any modern humans in East Asia until 30,000 to 40,000 years ago. (Your textbook says it may have been as early as 50,000 years ago. Also says Chinese scholars believed human beings in China evolved independently. Ebrey, 2 However, DNA evidence says otherwise. See Sen, 17) • Current “racial” differences among human beings did not develop until 10,000 years ago or so. These differences arose through “genetic drift,” the result of intermarriage within the same communities over many generations.
The Paleolithic Age • Paleolithic means “old stone” age. It refers to the time when humans used only unpolished stone tools. • Paleolithic human beings were primarily hunter-gathers living in small groups. • Homo hablis, Homo erectus, and early Homo sapiens lived in paleolithic communities. • Lasted until about about 10,000 B.C.E.
The Neolithic Revolution10,000 years ago or so • Polished stone tools • sedentary communities • domesticated plants and animals (Neolithic Revolution) • better pottery and clothing • the beginning of private property, and of writing to lay claim to that property. • the beginning of warfare • Beginning of agriculture caused a dramatic population increase. (Ebrey, 2-3)
Guns, Germs, and Steel • Jared Diamond asks why Eurasia (not just Europe or Asia) has dominated the world since earliest times to the present day. • He says because it stretches east-to-west, which means that it benefited from an homogeneous climate, which meant that • It had a great variety of both plants and animals which could be domesticated in one part of Eurasia and then spread to the rest. • Those animals carried diseases, which peoples across Eurasia developed immunity to. • Eurasia succeeded because of environmental factors.
“China” or “Chinas”? • Northern China (Yellow River cultures): • Yangshao (painted pottery) 5, 000 to 3,000 BCE • and Longshan (black pottery) 3,000 to 2,000 BCE • cultures in southern China were different • Also,there were Tungusic, proto-Mongol, proto-Turk, proto-Tibetan, Dai (Tai), and Yue (Vietnamese) cultures in what is now China. In addition, there was the Hemudu culture, which moved to Taiwan • How do we distinguish one culture from another? Pottery, housing, food, other artifacts.
Erlitou • a small settlement (30,000 people or so) in Henan Province in northern China from about 2,000 BCE to about 1,400 BCE. (Sen 19-20) • Was it the capital of the legendary Xia dynasty? Or was it early Shang? No written records to tell us. • Archaeology tells us it was an important regional centre and also the inspiration for the bronze vessels that came to be used in those rituals that helped define early Chinese civilization • Appears to have led some sort of political hierarchy of settlements. A proto-state.
China: rise of the state • What is a state? • A political entity with a capital with extractive (taxation) and administrative powers over outlying areas, plus writing and math. Has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and ritual within a specified territory. A clear ruler/ruled divide • Was there really a Xia dynasty? No archaeological evidence (Ebrey, 10) • Or was the Shang the first state? It had writing, bronze, and chariots. No clear evidence for a state until around 1,400 BCE Where did bronze and chariots come from? Sen 19-23 • China and primary state formation.
The Shang dynasty • China’s first authenticated dynasty (c.1500 -1050 BCE) A network of walled towns. Ebrey 10-15. • Many distinctive Chinese features: • Writing system, bronze ritual vessels, oracle bones, stamped earth walls • Pig more important than the cow. • Worshipped the Supreme Ancestor (Shangdi) • Women could wield political and militrary power--Lady Hao (Sen 20) • Didn’t control much of what is China today. May have had more ritual influence than political influence.
The Zhou dynasty:first civilization in China • Western Zhou C 1050 to 771 BCE. Ebrey 15-19. • Mandate of Heaven allowed them to conquer the Shang--shift to impersonal ruling force rather than Lord Above. • The first Chinese Classics appear (Book of Documents, Book of Songs-- see Ebrey 16-17) • Ritual solidified as a means of political control. • Writing becomes more important • A semi-Feudal system: Zhou is not yet “China”
What is feudalism? • Feudalism is not a catch-all term for “pre-modern.” • Rather, it has a very specific meaning. It refers to a layered government, in which the person at the top operates direct authority only over those directly below him, and they, in turn, exercise authority only over those directly below them. At the bottom are serfs, cultivator who are tied to the land. • A feudal society, by definition, is agrarian, with wealth and power coming from control of the land. • It is also a society in which civil and military power are fused--the hand that holds the sword is the hand that runs the government.