Culture and Art
Time: (1700 B.C.-1027B.C.)
Location of Capital: Modern City of Anyang in Henan Province
Replaced by: Zhou Dynasty
According to Chinese tradition, the Shang dynasty was founded by a rebel king who overthrew the last Xia ruler in the Battle of Mingtiao. According to the Shiji, the Shang had a long history, and there are different theories about their origin. A study of their bones illustrated a Huaxia people origin. Its civilization was based on agriculture, augmented by hunting, animal husbandry, war, and human sacrifice. The Records of the Grand Historian state that the Shang moved its capital six times. The final and most important move to Yin in 1350 BC led to the golden age of the dynasty. The term Yin dynasty has been synonymous with the Shang in history, and indeed was the more popular term, although it is now often used specifically in reference to the later half of the Shang. The Japanese and Koreans still refer to the Shang dynasty exclusively as the Yin (In) dynasty.
A line of hereditary Shang kings ruled over much of northern China, and Shang troops fought frequent wars with neighboring settlements and nomadic herdsmen from the inner Asian steppes. The capitals, particularly that in Yin, were centers of glittering court life. Court rituals to appease spirits developed. In addition to his secular position, the king was the head of the ancestor- and spirit-worship cult. The king often performed oracle bone divinations himself, especially near the end of the dynasty. Evidence from the royal tombs indicates that royal personages were buried with articles of value, presumably for use in the afterlife. Perhaps for the same reason, hundreds of commoners, who may have been slaves, were buried alive with the royal corpse. A late Shang dynasty bronze ding vessel with taotie motif
The Shang had a fully developed system of writing as attested on bronze inscriptions, oracle bones, and a small number of other writings on pottery, jade and other stones, horn, etc.; its complexity and state of development indicates an earlier period of development, which is still unattested. Bronze casting and pottery also advanced in Shang culture. The bronze was commonly used for art rather than weapons. In astronomy, the Shang astronomers saw Mars and various comets. Many musical instruments were also invented at that time.