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Chinese Geography and Ancient China

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Max Scott

on 10 December 2012

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Transcript of Chinese Geography and Ancient China

Chinese Geography China's Physical Geography It's about the same size as the U.S. Rivers There are two main rivers in China: the Yellow River (Huang He) and the Yangtze river. Civilization Begins People settled along the Yangzi and Yellow rivers. In the north, the land was better suited to crops like wheat. Where is China? China is a lot like the United States because it has a lot of different geographic features. The Gobi desert is north of China. It's different from the other deserts we have learned about because it is cold. Eastern China is covered with plains. These plains are some of the largest farming regions in the world. These plains are used to grow crops, like rice. Rice is the most important food source in China. The western part of China is full of mountains. The Himalayas form the southwest border of China. The Pacific Ocean forms the Eastern border of China. The Qinling Shandi mountains divide northern and southern China. This was a large barrier for much of China's history. China also had a big geographical feature that every other civilization we've talked about had also... Weather and temperature vary a lot throughout China. The Northeast part is dry and cold, the northwest is very dry. And the southeast is extremely wet, because it gets rain from monsoons, sometimes 250 inches in a year. That's enough to cover a two-story house! The Yangzi River is the longest river in Asia, and it flows through central China, The Huang He, or Yellow River, flows across Northern China. It often floods and leaves behind silt. Just like the Nile. In fact, there is so much silt in the river that it makes the water yellow. However, this river is also dangerous. How would a river be dangerous? If the river floods like this, why would people continue living near it? The Yellow River flooded a lot, sometimes every other year. People would die from drowning, but they would also die from famine caused by the floods and spread of disease. When it flooded, it often changed its course. Over the years, millions of people have died in these floods. These floods have given the river the nickname "China's Sorrow." The rivers connected people in east and west,
but the Qinling Shandi mountains separated the
north and south. In the south, there is more rain, so rice was the main crop in the south. It rains so much there they could grow multiple crops in a year. They also hunted with bows and arrows, and domesticated animals like sheep and pigs. As food supplies grew, so did the population. As the food surplus grew, people began to settle in villages and towns. Many artifacts have been found, including arrowheads, pottery, fishing hooks, and tools. We have learned a lot about the early Chinese from their burial sites. Like Egyptians, they filled their tombs with objects, Some tombs had more items than others, which suggests that a social order had developed. Some of the richer tombs had items made of jade, a hard green gemstone. First Dynasties Xia Dynasty The Xia (Shah) was the first dynasty in ancient China. It was founded by a man named Yu the Great. Writers tell of terrible floods during Yu's life. According to these stories, Yu dug channels and made dikes to stop the Yellow river from flooding so much. It took over 10 years, and made Yu into a legend. Evidence of the Xia has been hard to find because they did not have a written language. But even if they were not real, they gave the ancient Chinese important stories about kings who helped solve problems by working together. Shang Dynasty The Shang dynasty is the first one we have clear evidence for. It was established by 1500s BC, and was strongest near the Yellow River. Shang rulers moved their capital many times, probably to avoid floods or attacks by enemies. During the Shang dynasty, the king was on the top of the social hierarchy, Nobles served as advisors or government officials. The royal family and nobles were on top of the social order. Nobles owned a lot of land, and passed their wealth and power to their sons. Many powerful warriors were in the upper class as well. Artisans were in the middle of the social hierarchy. They lived outside the city walls in groups, based on what they made. Some made pottery, tools, or clothing. Farmers were almost on the bottom. THey worked long hours but had little money. Much of their earnings went to taxes. Slaves were on the bottom. The Shang invented China's first written language. It had over 2000 (!) symbols to express ideas and words. Much of this writing has been found on oracle bones. These were large flat bones, like turtle shells or shoulder blades. Questions would be carved into the bone, then the bone would be heated until it cracked. Priests would then "read" the cracks to predict the future. Shang artisans also made beautiful bronze containers and ornaments of jade. The military had powerful chariots and weapons made of bronze.
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