chapter  Chapter 5
22 Pages

Ancient China

ByRhoads Murphey, Kristin Stapleton

This chapter explores the beginnings of civilization in China, which can be traced to around 2000 b.c.e. Chinese civilization arose in relative isolation from other world areas and early developed its own distinctive form and style. The geographic area of Asia where China developed was marked off by high mountains and deserts along its northwestern, western, and southwestern borders and separated from other cultural centers by the great breadth of arid Central Asia. The chapter outlines the rise of the Shang dynasty; the Zhou dynasty; and the Warring States period, from about 600 to 221 b.c.e., when Confucius lived. Relations between the Shang and their vassals were uneasy, and chronic warfare with other groups on the margins strained Shang resources, as did the extravagant demands of royal building and display, much of it extorted from slave laborers and artisans. The chapter concludes with the descriptions of Han culture, cities in ancient China, and Han achievements in science and technology.