Political History of Shang
Time: (1700 B.C.-1027B.C.)
Location of Capital: Modern City of Anyang in Henan Province
Replaced by: Zhou Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty (Chinese: 商朝) or Yin Dynasty (殷代) was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia Dynasty. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper", in the Yellow River valley.
According to the chronology based upon calculations by Liu Xin, the Shang ruled between 1766 BC and 1122 BC, however according to the chronology based upon the Bamboo Annals, it is between 1556 BC and 1046 BC. The results of the Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project places them between 1600 BC and 1046 BC. According to historical tradition the Shang Dynasty followed the (possibly mythical) Xia Dynasty and preceded the Zhou Dynasty.
Direct information about the Shang Dynasty comes from Shang inscriptions on bronze artifacts, but mainly from oracle bones—turtle shells, cattle scapulae or bones on which were written the first significant corpus of recorded Chinese characters. Other sources on the Shang come from historical records of the later Zhou Dynasty and the Han Dynasty Shiji by Sima Qian. The inscriptions on the oracle bones are divinations, which can be gleaned for information on the politics, economy, culture, religion, geography, astronomy, calendar, art and medicine of the period, and as such provide critical insight into the early stages of the Chinese civilization.
One site of the Shang capitals, later historically called the Ruins of Yin (殷墟), is near modern day Anyang. Archaeological work there uncovered 11 major Yin royal tombs and the foundations of palaces and ritual sites, containing weapons of war and remains of animal and human sacrifices. Tens of thousands of bronze, jade, stone, bone and ceramic artifacts have been obtained; the workmanship on the bronzes attests to a high level of civilization. In terms of inscribed oracle bones alone, more than 20,000 were discovered in the initial scientific excavations in the 1920s to 1930s, and over four times as many have since been found.