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Transcript of Shang Dynasty
Hierarchical Class Distinctions
In all the class distinctions, it was completely patriarchal. Women were completely in the shadow of men.
In all classes, they venerated their ancestors, deeply respected their elders, and worshipped the god Shang Di.
Agriculturally Based Economy
Main source of income was agriculture
Harvested rice, wheat, and millet
Slaves and serfs perform all economic functions
Growing fishing industry
Prominent handicraft industry
Civilization in China
The Shang emperor was the supreme power.
He controlled a powerful army containing between 3,000 and 5,000 men.
The dynasty was a centralized state with the capital moving a total of six times!
Not much is known about their legal codes, but they favored emperors and aristocrats.
Located in Northern China
Yellow River Valley
Settled around rivers not on the coast
Isolated from Fertile Crescent by distance, deserts, and mountains
Constant warfare with outsiders
Minimal trade with Mesopotamia
Chariot technology from the West
Trade centered between cities
Tribute sent to political centers
Metal ores for bronze production from southern regions
Cowrie shells as currency
The Shang Dynasty existed during the Bronze Age of China. Its skill in working with jade and bronze represents one of its highest achievements.
Jade jewelry and decorations
Bronze musical instruments
Turtle shells for divination
Woven silk fabrics
Twelve month calendar based on moon cycles
No surviving literature
Architecture & Urban Planning
Massive earthen walls surrounding urban centers
Rammed-earth building foundations
Timber buildings with wattle-and-daub walls and thatched roofs
Rammed-earth pits in tombs
Rectangular houses arranged in rows
Palace or temple in the center of a city
Grid system of streets
The Shang Dynasty is considered an important First Civilization because of its centralized militaristic state, hierarchical class distinctions, agriculturally based economy, and artistic achievements.
The king had a monopoly on bronze. The bronze was used for mass weapon production, making it easy to defeat any rebel forces.
During the Shang Dynasty, all of the court's major decisions were recorded on oracle bones using pictographs.
Kings had lavish tombs and dressed themselves in luxurious robes and ornaments.
Controlled the surplus of food and monopoly on bronze.
They were considered the intermediates between the heavens and the earth.
They held important positions in court
Were given bronze objects and weapons as gifts.
Owned little of their own land.
Land was allotted to them by royal landowners
Provided the dynasty with its major food supply
Majority were prisoners of war
Performed the hardest labors and were victims of ritual sacrifices
Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. Jerry H. Bentley & Herbert T. Ziegler
Traditions & Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past. Jerry H. Bentley & Herbert F. Ziegler
Shang warriors used these bronze knives as weapons.
This oracle bone depicts pictographs that would hold information such as the court's decisions that day. Several hundred oracle bones were used for record keeping.
The picture depicts Chinese peasants working the fields on land that is most likely not owned by them, and providing the civilization with a surplus of food.
The Shang Dynasty was an important first civilization because of its centralized militaristic state, hierarchical class distinctions, agriculturally based economy, and artistic achievements.
Slaves, prisoners of war or debtors, were owned by the state and played an important role in the Shang economy by providing agricultural labor.
The economic foundation of the Shang dynasty was based on agriculture. Millet was the most important grain crop at the time.
Pottery was also an important part of the handicraft industry. Artisans developed high-fire stoneware and pottery glazes, important advances in pottery technology.
Shang artisans worked in royal workshops to create bronze vessels, weapons, and musical instruments, and they improved bronze casting techniques.
The Yellow River was used for transportation and irrigation. Its geographic isolation limited interaction with other civilizations.
Even though the Chinese had limited interaction with western civilizations, chariot technology quickly spread to the Shang dynasty.
Cowrie shells served as a source of currency for trade and payments in the Shang dynasty.
The Shang dynasty developed a written language, but no literature exists. Most writings were found on oracle bones or bronze inscriptions.
The Shang also developed a decimal system along with a calendar based on the moon's cycles.
Improved bronze casting techniques allowed artisans to produce delicate musical instruments like the bell on the left.
Bronze objects, usually weapons or ceremonial vessels, represented wealth, power, and luxury.
The Shang used jade objects in burial rites, sacrificial offerings to ancestors and gods, and formal ceremonies.
The king and nobility lived in the center of cities while peasants and commoners lived outside city walls. The picture depicts a palace from this time period.
Timber buildings were made of wattle-and-daub walls and thatched roofs. The bottom picture depicts a recontructed palace.
Tombs consisted of rammed-earth pits like in royal tomb of Lady Hao.
Rammed-earth walls surrounded a city with a palace, residential area, graveyard, and workshop district.
Centralized Militaristic State
The Shang Dynasty began in 1766 BCE after overthrowing the Xia Dynasty. The dynasty was located in Northeastern China, near the modern province of Henan.
Believed to be one of the oldest Chinese dynasties beginning in 1766 BCE after overthrowing the mythical Xia dynasty.
This map indicates how the border extended from the Xia Dynasty to the Shang Dynasty.