Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Ancient China

In China, The first evidence of advanced farming and surplus food production appears related to the Yangshao culture, which was focused in the basin formed by the confluence of the Yellow River (Huang Ho), the Fen Ho, and the Kuei-Shui Rivers. 
This culture dates to about 3,500 B.C. To facilitate the needs of survival and development, a fair, upright and capable person was chosen to lead the people in their work and to organize their defences against invasions. This became a process whereby Yao, for example, recommended Shun, Shun recommended Yu and Yu recommended Gaotao, and so on.

Later generations named this method of selecting a tribal head The "Abdication System". This period, where egalitarianism was widespread, was characterized by peace, equality and the common ownership of wealth, historians referred to it as the Society of Great Harmony.

As population increased, some people inevitably broke away from their groups to form new clans. With improved productivity, an individual was able to produce more than he could consume. This Yangshao culture, which relates to the Xia Dynasty, is characterized by handsome painted pottery.

This culture also includes cultivated millet, rice, kaoliang, and possibly soybeans, as well as domesticated pig, cattle, sheep, dog, chicken, and possibly the horse and silkworm. There was also “ceremonial” pottery vessels and elaborately worked objects in jade, flint, bone, and stone. Top left: China, Western Zhou Period, 1000 B.C.E., bottom right: Shang Dynasty, Jade.
This meant that neighbouring clan captives were kept alive as slaves instead of being killed. The slaves were then obliged to work, and their total output became the property of their owners. In this way, private ownership evolved.

As more and more people became either owners or slaves, a class structure developed within the society, thereby replacing the former primitive Society of Great Harmony. The Longshan Culture is a prime example of this period. To protect their own interests, the privileged classes abandoned the Abdication System and adopted a new political system and social regulations.

After the death of Yu the Great, his son, Qi, killed the appointed successor and usurped power. In so doing, he established a new era of hereditary monarchy that subsequently ruled in China for nearly 4,000 years. This was when the Xia (21st-17th century B.C.), the first hereditary dynasty in China was born. As the first slave dynasty in Chinese history, the Xia Dynasty began with the reign of Qi, the son of the Great Yu, and ended with the fall of Jie.

With its capital located in Anyi (north of Xia County in mid-west Shanxi Province), the Xia was ruled by the descents of the Xiahou tribe.
Altogether, there were 16 kings in 13 generations. (The Shang is referred to as the second slave dynasty). We have already made clear that dates should not be taken literally. A point of comparison: the Yangshao culture is dated conventionally at 3,500 B.C, yet just across the bay in Japan, the same type people (the ancient Jomon), who migrated "from" China to Japan, are known to have inhabited that area since about 35,000 B.C.

 In their chronology, the Yangshao is indeed the original culture, but they attribute the Xia to the Longshan. Interestingly, no mention is made of different ethnicities, and no evidence is offered to prove that the Xia enslaved the Mongols. Left: Shang Figure 1200 B.C.E.

For many years, the Xia Dynasty was thought to be a mythical time that the Chinese tell about as part of their oral history. Right: Chariot decoration Western Zhou Period, 1100 B.C.E.
Though the Xia Dynasty existed in oral histories, there was no archaeological evidence found of it until 1959.

Then excavations at Erlitou, in the city of Yanshi, uncovered what was most likely a capital of the Xia Dynasty. This site showed that these people were direct ancestors of the Lungshan/Longshan culture.

Radiocarbon dates from this site, indicate that it existed from 2100 to 1800 B.C. Despite this new archaeological evidence of the Xia, they are still not universally accepted as a true dynasty.

No comments:

Post a Comment