Shang dynasty

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Shang dynasty
Chinese 商朝

The Shang dynasty was a major ancient Chinese dynasty from about 1766 to 1122 BC.

The Shang dynasty built cities in northern China along the Yellow River and is sometimes called the Yellow River Civilization. The Shang empire consisted of city-states which were often at war with one another, and the capital city shifted as power changed hands.

The Shang dynasty had writing in the form of oracle bones, questions and answers inscribed on a bone for divination. These have been translated to the extent that they can be, and provide quite vivid accounts of Shang life and culture, although they record mostly the upper echelons of society, and some scholars believe that only the positive results of the divinations were recorded or kept - some use the evidence of the birth of the daughter of Lady Hao as evidence against, as the inscription reads "...on day 51, she gave birth. It really was not good. It was a girl" (having previously predicted that it would be a good birth - it would be "prolonged auspiciousness"). They used a pictographic form of writing from which modern Chinese writing is descended. In the later part of the dynasty, bronze script embedded in bronze-ware was an early model of printing presses and was used more widely than oracle bones for record keeping, although oracle bones were still used.

The wheel was perfected by the Shang dynasty and used in chariots, some of which have been discovered at Anyang, near the site of the largest Shang cultural center.

The Shang dynasty ended in 1122 BC and was replaced by the Zhou dynasty, a dynasty of which scholars have much more accurate records, and which represents a flowering of Chinese culture and thought, even as the dynasty collapsed in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods.

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