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shang Dynasty Chinese Writing


  • Later stages in the development of Chinese writing include the guwen ("ancient figures") found in inscriptions from the late Shang dynasty ( c. 1123 bc ) and the early years of the Zhou dynasty that followed.
  • Since the Records of Emperors and Kings by Huangfu Mi (3rd century AD), it has often been used specifically to describe the later half of the Shang dynasty.
  • Although Christopher I. Beckwith thinks the Chinese may have been exposed to the idea of writing from Steppe nomads, the prevalent belief is that China developed writing on its own.
  • The Shang made many contributions to Chinese civilization, but four in particular define the dynasty: the invention of writing; the development of a stratified government; the advancement of bronze technology; and the use of the chariot and bronze weapons in warfare.
  • An example of a Shang Dynasty bone with the characters drawn using straight lines is shown in this link.
  • This Shang Dynasty script, known as the oracle bone script because of its appearance on bones used for divining, appeared in a nearly complete form with no clear developmental history.
  • Most of the information we know about the Shang Dynasty came from the oracle bones found in Yin.
  • The South China Morning Post is reporting that the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang has issued a worldwide appeal for assistance in cracking the meaning behind engraved characters on its collection of "oracle bones."
  • It was in the Shang Dynasty (商朝, c. 1600-1050 BCE) that characters first appeared as a fully developed linguistic system.













oracle Bones Shang Dynasty Ancient China


  • Oracle bones (known in Chinese as 甲骨, transliterated as "jiǎ gǔ’, and literally translated as "shells and bones’) are a type of artifact best known for its association with the Shang Dynasty (roughly from 1600 BC to 1050 BC) of ancient China.
  • Learning the genealogy of the Shang dynasty was vital because once they were discovered and deciphered, it proved that the Shang dynasty really was a time period in China since until its discovery, there were many scholars that didn’t believe that the Shang even existed from lack of evidence.
  • Neolithic diviners in China had long been heating the bones of deer, sheep, pigs and cattle for similar purposes; evidence for this in Liaoning has been found dating to the late fourth millennium BCE. However, over time, the use of ox bones increased, and use of tortoise shells does not appear until early Shang culture.
  • Through these so-called "oracle bones" we have learned of the many concerns of the Shang kings: from wishing away an agonizing toothache to hoping to win a battle.
  • The victor moved the capital to the city of Zengzhou, and that period known in ancient Chinese history as the Zhou dynasty had begun.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, many scholars were starting to believe that the Shang Dynasty didn't exist, that it was just the stuff of Chinese mythology.
  • The Shang were the first Chinese Dynasty to invent writing and have a recorded history.
  • By analyzing oracle bone inscriptions, other artifacts, and archaeological sites such as tombs and ancient cities, scholars have been able to piece together many details of Shang civilization.
  • Oracle Bones: To communicate with their ancestors, the Shang kings used oracle bones.
  • In the 1930s, however, Chinese scholars pinpointed where the bones originated, and set about conducting comprehensive excavations of the ancient royal capital at Anyang (ancient Yin).
  • Scholars have managed to crack the code to less than half of the roughly 5,000 characters found on excavated oracle bones.
  • Eyewitness: Ancient China, by Arthur Cotterell, Alan Hills, and Geoff Brightling (2000)., with lots of excellent pictures.


















































































shang Dynasty Traditional Chinese Medicine


  • The first written record of specially prepared TCM containing "herbs"- the Medicinal Wine, was inscribed on a tortoise shell during the Shang Dynasty in the 11 century BC. The wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine is summarized in the Chinese Materia Medica, which provides studies on the properties of Chinese drugs, their origin, preparation, dosage, administration and efficacy.
  • The discovery of alcohol in the Xia Dynasty (c. 2070-1600 BC) and the invention of herbal decoction in the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) rendered medicines more effective.
  • The system that would develop into traditional Chinese medicine stems from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-219 CE) ( Ancient Healing 1997, 278, 282-83).
  • There are some medical specialists in both the East and West who also believe that Chinese medicine will open a new pathway for Western medicine, and that in the West the treasure house of Chinese medicine awaits discovery.
  • China has detailed records of successive Imperial reigns starting from the Xia dynasty (approx. 21st c B.C. to 16th c BC) During the Shang dynasty,which succeeded the Xia, (16th c BC to 11th c BC), In step with the development of agriculture, the brewing of alcohol, silk weaving, astronomy/astrology, and the calendar all saw great achievements.
  • Sun Simiao, a great doctor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), proposed that mastership of medicine lies in proficient medical skills and lofty medical ethics, which eventually became the embodiment of a moral value of the Chinese nation, a core value that has been conscientiously upheld by the TCM circles.
  • Since TCM has become more popular in the Western world, there are increasing concerns about the potential toxicity of many traditional Chinese medicinals including plants, animal parts and minerals.
  • The most striking one is Huangdi Neijing, which explains the relationship between human and nature, the theory of Zang-Fu and meridian system, physiological and pathological theory, the theory of diagnosis and treatment, and the theory of disease prevention and health preservation, thereby laying the foundation for the development of traditional Chinese medical theory.
  • In the 600s AD, during the T'ang Dynasty, the Chinese had thousands of recipes for medicines.
  • This image from Shi si jing fa hui (Expression of the Fourteen Meridians). (Tokyo: Suharaya Heisuke kanko, Kyoho gan 1716).The first traces of therapeutic activities in the territories that are now considered China date from the Shang dynasty (14th-11th centuries BCE).
  • The Shang Dynasty was replaced by the Zhou Dynasty (1046-226 BCE) which began to dissolve in its final years into the phase known as the Warring States Period (476-221 BCE).
  • This prescription book--a "legal" formulary of Chinese patent medicines in the Song Dynasty and also the first pharmacopoeia of the Chinese patent medicines is a big step towards the standardization of prescription.
  • Archeological findings from the Shang Dynasty (c. 1300 BCE) reveal early medical notations, and by the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE) there is evidence of a complex Oriental medical system.
  • Notably, practitioners within the People's Republic of China has taken great strides with integrating Traditional Chines Medicine with that modern interpretations of anatomy and pathology for well over fifty years.



















shang Dynasty Chinese Script


  • From these divinatory inscriptions, there can be no doubt that the Shang used a language directly ancestral to modern Chinese and moreover used a written script that evolved into the standard Chinese logographic writing system still in use today (26-27).
  • The majority of recent scholarship agrees that writing evolved during the Shang Dynasty and developed from there.
  • Studies into the oracle bones showed the way Chinese script developed over time, cast light onto the divinatory practices of the Shang Dynasty, and proved that the Shang did exist, and was not merely a mythical dynasty in China’s long history.
  • About one meter high and weighing 153. 5 kilograms, it has on its interior wall an inscription of 291 characters in 19 lines, by which King Kang summed up the experience in founding a new nation and drew lessons from the failure of the preceding Shang Dynasty.
  • This lucky find led eventually to the discovery of Anyang, the last capital of Shang dynasty where archeologists have found an enormous amount of these carved bones.
  • An example of a Shang Dynasty bone with the characters drawn using straight lines is shown in this link.
  • Given that the roots of Chinese civilization go much further back than the Shang, there are plenty of reasons to think that the Xia dynasty did indeed rule in northern China.
  • They are appropriately called sound-meaning characters, and demonstrate conclusively that sound representation is very important for understanding the Chinese script and how it works.
  • At the entrance to the Yinxu Museum, in Anyang, China, the red gate was built in the shape of the word "door" in ancient Chinese script.

























ancient China Shang Dynasty 1600 Bc-1200 Bc


  • Since many historians question whether the Xia Dynasty really existed, the Shang Dynasty may have actually been the first in China and the origin of what has come to be recognized as Chinese culture.
  • The Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1046 BCE) was the second dynasty of China which succeeded the Xia Dynasty (c. 2700-1600 BCE) after the overthrow of the Xia tyrant Jie by the Shang leader, Tang.
  • The Shang Dynasty was replaced by the Zhou Dynasty (1046-226 BCE) which began to dissolve in its final years into the phase known as the Warring States Period (476-221 BCE).
  • The Shang Dynasty lasted roughly from 1600 BCE to 1046 BCE, and is believed to be founded by a rebel leader, perhaps named T’ang, who overthrew the previous leader of Xia China.
  • It lasted around 500 years and was defeated by the Shang around 1600 BC. Eannatum, the Sumerian king of Lagash, established one of the first verifiable empires in history in 2500 BC. The neighboring Elam, in modern Iran, was also part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period.
  • The Shang state was a Bronze Age civilisation, which emerged around 1600 BCE in the central plain of north China, near the Yellow River.
  • Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor, the first to rule China as a centralised unified state.
  • The "Explore" section of this unit "presents examples of writing from ancient China, including oracle bones, inscribed bronze vessels, wooden slips and money.
  • According to tradition, the last Shang king was overthrown in 1046 BC. The succeeding dynasty was called the Zhou Dynasty.
  • Kids History: Timeline of Ancient China Parents and Teachers : Support Ducksters by following us on or.
  • In the decades since the modern discipline of archaeology was introduced to China in the 1920s, archaeologists have proven that bells were among the first Chinese bronze objects made, beginning at least by 1600 BCE. Scholarly study of excavated examples suggests that distinct musical cultures flourished simultaneously in north and south China and influenced one another over the course of many centuries.
  • These findings provide direct evidence for fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, which were of considerable social, religious, and medical significance, and help elucidate their earliest descriptions in the Shang Dynasty oracle inscriptions.
  • Ancient China comes into a disunity country which lasted for 169 years.



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