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Chinese History

created May 11th 2016, 10:51 by jessthecool365



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Written records of the history of China can be found from as early as 1500 BC[1][2] under the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC).[3] Ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (ca. 100 BC) and the Bamboo Annals describe a Xia dynasty (c. 2070–1600 BC), which had no system of writing on a durable medium, before the Shang.[3][4] The Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization, although cultures originated at various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys millennia ago in the Neolithic era. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations,[5] and is regarded as one of the cradles of civilization.[6] Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 BC). The Zhou dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. This is one of multiple periods of failed statehood in Chinese history, the most recent being the Chinese Civil War that started in 1927. Between eras of multiple kingdoms and warlordism, Chinese dynasties have ruled parts or all of China; in some eras control stretched as far as Xinjiang and Tibet, as at present. In 221 BC Qin Shi Huang united the various warring kingdoms and created for himself the title of "emperor" (huangdi) of the Qin dynasty, marking the beginning of imperial China. Successive dynasties developed bureaucratic systems that enabled the emperor to control vast territories directly. China's last dynasty was the Qing (1644–1912), which was replaced by the Republic of China in 1912, and in the mainland by the People's Republic of China in 1949. The conventional view of Chinese history is that of alternating periods of political unity and disunity, with China occasionally being dominated by steppe peoples, most of whom were in turn assimilated into the Han Chinese population. Cultural and political influences from other parts of Asia and the Western world, carried by successive waves of immigration, cultural assimilation, expansion, and foreign contact, form the basis of the modern culture of China. What is now China was inhabited by Homo erectus more than a million years ago.[7] Recent study shows that the stone tools found at Xiaochangliang site are magnetostratigraphically dated to 1.36 million years ago.[8] The archaeological site of Xihoudu in Shanxi Province is the earliest recorded use of fire by Homo erectus, which is dated 1.27 million years ago.[7] The excavations at Yuanmou and later Lantian show early habitation. Perhaps the most famous specimen of Homo erectus found in China is the so-called Peking Man discovered in 1923–27. Fossilised teeth of Homo sapiens dating to 125,000–80,000 BCE have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Dao County in Hunan.[9] The Neolithic age in China can be traced back to about 10,000 BC.[10] Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is radiocarbon-dated to about 7000 BC.[11] The earliest evidence of cultivated rice, found by the Yangtze River, is carbon-dated to 8,000 years ago.[12] Farming gave rise to the Jiahu culture (7000 to 5800 BC). At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6000–5000 BC have been discovered, "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese.[13] Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BC,[14] Dadiwan from 5800 BC to 5400 BC, Damaidi around 6000 BC[15] and Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BC. Some scholars have suggested that Jiahu symbols (7th millennium BC) were the earliest Chinese writing system.[14] Excavation of a Peiligang culture site in Xinzheng county, Henan, found a community that flourished in 5,500 to 4,900 BC, with evidence of agriculture, constructed buildings, pottery, and burial of the dead.[16] With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and the potential to support specialist craftsmen and administrators.[12] In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a center of Yangshao culture (5000 BC to 3000 BC), and the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of these was found at Banpo, Xi'an.[17] Later, Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture, which was also centered on the Yellow River from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Bronze artifacts have been found at the Majiayao culture site (between 3100 and 2700 BC),[18][19]The Bronze Age is also represented at the Lower Xiajiadian culture (2200–1600 BC[20]) site in northeast China. he Xia dynasty of China (from c. 2100 to c. 1600 BC) is the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals.[3] [4] Although there is disagreement as to whether the dynasty actually existed, there is some archaeological evidence pointing to its possible existence. Writing in the late 2nd century BC, Sima Qian dated the founding of the Xia dynasty to around 2200 BC, but this date has not been corroborated. Most archaeologists now connect the Xia to excavations at Erlitou in central Henan province,[21] where a bronze smelter from around 2000 BC was unearthed. Early markings from this period found on pottery and shells are thought to be ancestral to modern Chinese characters.[22] With few clear records matching the Shang oracle bones or the Zhou bronze vessel writings, the Xia era remains poorly understood. According to mythology, the dynasty ended around 1600 BC as a consequence of the Battle of Mingtiao. Archaeological findings providing evidence for the existence of the Shang dynasty, c. 1600–1046 BC, are divided into two sets. The first set, from the earlier Shang period, comes from sources at Erligang, Zhengzhou, and Shangcheng. The second set, from the later Shang or Yin (殷) period, is at Anyang, in modern-day Henan, which has been confirmed as the last of the Shang's nine capitals (c. 1300–1046 BC).[citation needed] The findings at Anyang include the earliest written record of Chinese past so far discovered: inscriptions of divination records in ancient Chinese writing on the bones or shells of animals the so-called "oracle bones", dating from around 1500 BC.[1] Remnants of advanced, stratified societies dating back to the Shang found primarily in the Yellow River Valley
31 kings reigned over the Shang dynasty. During their reign, according to the Records of the Grand Historian, the capital city was moved six times.[citation needed] The final (and most important) move was to Yin in 1350 BC which led to the dynasty's golden age.[citation needed] The term Yin dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang dynasty in history, although it has lately been used to refer specifically to the latter half of the Shang dynasty.[citation needed]
Chinese historians living in later periods were accustomed to the notion of one dynasty succeeding another, but the actual political situation in early China is known to have been much more complicated. Hence, as some scholars of China suggest, the Xia and the Shang can possibly refer to political entities that existed concurrently, just as the early Zhou is known to have existed at the same time as the Shang.[citation needed] Although written records found at Anyang confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty,[citation needed] Western scholars are often hesitant to associate settlements that are contemporaneous with the Anyang settlement with the Shang dynasty. For example, archaeological findings at Sanxingdui suggest a technologically advanced civilization culturally unlike Anyang. The evidence is inconclusive in proving how far the Shang realm extended from Anyang. The leading hypothesis is that Anyang, ruled by the same Shang in the official history, coexisted and traded with numerous other culturally diverse settlements in the area that is now referred to as China proper.[citation needed] The Zhou dynasty (1046 BC to approximately 256 BC) was the longest-lasting dynasty in Chinese history. By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the Zhou dynasty began to emerge in the Yellow River valley, overrunning the territory of the Shang. The Zhou appeared to have begun their rule under a semi-feudal system. The Zhou lived west of the Shang, and the Zhou leader had been appointed Western Protector by the Shang. The ruler of the Zhou, King Wu, with the assistance of his brother, the Duke of Zhou, as regent, managed to defeat the Shang at the Battle of Muye. The king of Zhou at this time invoked the concept of the Mandate of Heaven to legitimize his rule, a concept that would be influential for almost every succeeding dynasty.[citation needed] Like Shangdi, Heaven (tian) ruled over all the other gods, and it decided who would rule China. It was believed that a ruler had lost the Mandate of Heaven when natural disasters occurred in great number, and when, more realistically, the sovereign had apparently lost his concern for the people. In response, the royal house would be overthrown, and a new house would rule, having been granted the Mandate of Heaven. The Zhou initially moved their capital west to an area near modern Xi'an, on the Wei River, a tributary of the Yellow River, but they would preside over a series of expansions into the Yangtze River valley.  This would be the first of many population migrations from north to south in Chinese history. In the 8th century BC, power became decentralized during the Spring and Autumn period, named after the influential Spring and Autumn Annals. In this period, local military leaders used by the Zhou began to assert their power and vie for hegemony.

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