Ancient China November 7, 2011
Introduction • China has been one of the most prosperous ancient civilizations known to man. China was generous enough to share its ideas with the rest of the world. • Through cultural diffusion, China publicized their concepts to the rest of the world.
Introduction • China’s geography greatly contributed to their success as an empire. • Their natural resources and the physical features of their land allowed them to become powerful militaristically and in trade.
Introduction • For thousands of years, China was defined by the rise and fall of dynasties. Each dynasty brought new tenets (believes and principles) about power and authority, science and technology, and culture to the Chinese civilization.
Geography • In Eastern Asia. Between the East China Sea, Korean Bay, South China Sea, and Yellow Sea. • Tivetan plateau– large, flat land. Other plateaus, as well. • Moutains– Himalayas create natural barriers. • Many rivers (Huang He and Yangtze are the biggest)
Geography • Climate ranges from subtropical to sub actic. • Includes Mount Everest, the world’s largest mountain.
Geography • Natural resources include aluminum, antimony, coal, iron ore, lead, magnetite, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, natural gas, petroleum, tin, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zinc.
Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) Power and Authority • Line of hereditary kings rule. 31 kings in 17 generations. • Frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen. • Walled cities. • Sharp divisions between nobles and peasents.
Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) Science and Technology • Development of writing system. • Bronze technology required centralized coordination of large labour force and technically skilled arisans. (More specialization) • Silk cloth weaving. • Horse-drawn war chariots.
Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) Culture • Worshipped supreme god, Shang Dim, and many lesser gods. • Kings consulted gods through oracle, bones, animal bones, and tortoise shells.
Zhou Dynasty (1100-256 B.C.) Power and Authority • Overthrew the Shang Dynasty. • Hierarchical political and social system. (Much like Egypt) • Longest dynasty. Divided into two periods: Western and Eastern Zhou. • “The Mandate of Heaven” • Competition for power between rival semi-autonomous states. • New class of civil servants, the Mandarins.
Zhou Dynasty (1100-256 B.C.) Science and Technology • Produce cast iron and create weapons and agricultures tools. • Coin Money • Build roads, canals, and bridges.
Zhou Dynasty (1100-256 B.C.) Culture • Shared language and culture of Shang and extended it through most of China Proper north of Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) • Classical age of philosophy: Confucianism, Taoism, and Legalism. • Confucius developed a system of moral values and responsible behaviour that influenced China for more than 2000 years.
Mandate of Heaven • Zhou rulers claimed that the gods had become angry with the Shang cruelty. • Over time, this justification became a belief that royal authority came from heaven. • A rules with divine approval was know as the “Mandate of Heaven”
Mandate of Heaven • Floods, riots, and other disasters could be signs that spirits were upset with the king’s rule. This might cause the Mandate of Heaven to pass onto another noble family. • Nobles might claim in bad times that they have claimed the Mandate of Heaven, and try to over throw the king.
Dynastic Cycle • The pattern of the rise, fall, and replacement of dynasties is called the Dynastic Cycle by historians. • New dynasties begin with a strong ruler, the dynasty expands and makes contributions to culture and technology. • In later years, rulers may be corrupt and/or inefficient, which weakens the dynasty and can lead to social unrest and rebellion.
Dynastic Cycle • The old dynasty loses the Mandate of Heaven and the new dynasty claims it.