The Shang Dynasty was believed to have been established during 1766 to 1122 BC. However, some accounts claimed that the dynasty lasted for at least 500 years until it ended in mid-11 BC when the Zhou dynasty took over. It can be found on the Bible Timeline Chart starting around 1704 BC. Primarily, the dynasty remained in the Yellow River, although there have been 5 different occasions when the capital was moved. However, it was in modern-day Anyang when the capital remained for over 250 years. The move was made possible by Pan Geng, the dynasty’s great ruler in 1384 BC. The Shang was regarded for their sophisticated use of bronze materials, which they used in making bells, fish hooks, pins, and other valuable items that enabled the production of axes. It was also during this era that structures were made, and these had walls made of pounded earth reaching about 9 meters in height. Ceremonial centers were also built, and these areas were constructed around other sites such as animal pens, storage pits and shops.
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Lifestyle and Practices
Since ancient Chinese people relied mostly on agricultural products, they were able to raise cattle, chicken and pigs for consumption. Moreover, they cultivated hemp for clothing while hunting was also practiced to make fur coats that helped the people survive bitter cold winters. As for the religion of the people in this dynasty, they believed mainly on worshipping ancestral spirits. They also considered Shang Di as their supreme God, which they also praised and worshipped through various rituals and traditions. In fact, decisions were often made with the help of the divine, and there were ancestral temples where people verified whether the choice they were to make would be a wise one or not. During this era, the king was considered as the ruler of the feudal system. This means, he had the right to call on other members of nobility for help once there is a need to fight against invaders. The culture practiced was also quite traditional. The oldest people were regarded as the ones closest to the great ancestors. Although the culture practiced was patriarchal, women can only become a matriarch in case she was the last and oldest survivor in her family.
Kings in this dynasty had the right to marry several women. Thus, polygamy was practiced by the nobles, although there were some kings who remained to be married to only one woman for the rest of their lives. Interestingly, there were oracle ones discovered that revealed a king who had 3 wives while 26 kings in the dynasty had just one wife until his death.
Care for the old was also practiced, as this was one way for the younger generation to show respect to their elderly. The people looked up to the oldest members of their family for guidance and wisdom, and the elderly people were offered deep respect and recognition as important members of the household and the society.
In the Shang, the culture and language of China developed immensely. There are also various pictograms and ideograms that showed the civilization of the people in this dynasty. Hence, the dynasty proved to be a great turning point in China’s history because of numerous contributions it made to the country’s unique culture.
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