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Current time:0:00Total duration:7:28

Video transcript

we are now going to go to the east and explore ancient China and we're going to do that in the second millennium BCE where we see some of the first great dynasties of ancient China emerging so if we go to roughly the 16th century BCE so that would be about 3,600 years ago we have the emergence of the Shang Dynasty and what's significant about the Shang Dynasty is it's the first dynasty where we have significant archaeological evidence of its existence we have a lot of evidence in this area where you see highlighted in red where the Shang Dynasty existed with its capital at en the modern date near the modern-day city of Anyang now we have accounts of a dynasty before it the sia or the Chia dynasty although we do not have significant archaeological evidence of it but the accounts say that the Chia dynasty would have been around for roughly 500 years before we get to this 16th century BCE with the emergence of the shang dynasty now just to get ourselves acquainted in time and space to think about well what else was happening around 1600 BCE we could remind ourselves that that was during the New Kingdom in ancient Egypt right around here the height of of ancient Egypt's power was right around that time we could think about the Hittite Empire that we study in other videos we could think about Mycenaean Greece around 1600 BCE is when you start having or when you have the decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation also known as the Harappan civilization and you start to have the Vedic period where you have these indo-aryan of people start to migrate into northern India in Mesopotamia you have the Assyrian Middle Kingdom right around here so this is all happening in this did too late second millennium BCE which is roughly the time of the Shang Dynasty now the Shang Dynasty was known for many things it was a Bronze Age culture and you can see depicted here many examples of that and this is pretty impressive work with bronze this is a bronze battle ax right over here you can imagine a handle a handle for this ax something like this this is not something that you would want to deal with in in a battle and you can see these other very significant large bronze crafts for the handiwork that that the shang dynasty was able to produce now what the shang dynasty is also well known for is their writing it's the first evidence of a fairly advanced writing form for and it's related to modern chinese and a lot of that writing the significant artifacts from that time are on what are called oracle bones that's an oracle bone right over here this is actually the the scapula the shoulder blade of an ox and what they would do is they would write questions in this Oracle bone script on top of that scapula of an ox and then they would heat it up in a flame or some type of source of heat until it cracks and then they would interpret the crack to see what was the answer to their actual questions and you can actually see how this Oracle bone script is related to modern Chinese script so this is Shang written in Oracle bone script and you can see how it evolved over time to the modern-day Chinese script even though if you go straight from that to that they look reasonably different but when you look at the evolution you can see that there that they have a lot of commonality you also see it in words right over here shows the evolution of the word tiger and once again this is the Oracle bone script and you can see it looks right here like a picture of a tiger but then it evolved over time to the modern form over here now this Shang civilization is no coincidence that first Asiya and in the Shang that they develop over here in the yellow river and the Yangtze River Valley's we've talked about it the ancient Egyptians the Mesopotamians all of the Indus Valley the Indus Valley Civilisation they all started where agriculture first emerged was tend to be in these river valley civilizations now the Shang in particular not only were they known for their bronze work there were lot they were known for their large cities they were known for their complex social structures they were known especially near the end of the Shang period for having chariots and some people think that because they had chariots there might have been contact with folks further west now the Shang Dynasty I said how the the Xie dynasty lasted for over 500 years and the Shang Dynasty also lasts for on the order of 500 years which is a very very very very long time but as we get to the middle of the 11th century BCE we would it would reach its end the last king of the Shang Dynasty is this gentleman right over here this would be d sin or d shin and the accounts have him initially in his rule as being a very capable ruler but later in his rule he seems to get more corrupt becomes less competent of a ruler his fav his favorite consort dodgey right over here she's a bit of a not so popular figure in Chinese history a lot of people think that she helped or they blame her for corrupting D shin and so he eventually faces his end in the Battle of mu yi against King Wu of Zhu or Jo is actually the correct pronounce a king Wu of Jo and King Wu of Jo is able to defeat B shin at the Battle of mu yi and that is the end of the Shang Dynasty and it begins the Jo dynasty which will go on for another 800 years it's pretty impressive how continuous these dynasties actually are and after that battle the shin goes off and commits suicide and this right over here is fiction of king woo of Joe who starts the Joe dynasty but the big picture here's we're talking about huge swathes of time and we have a significant you guess you could say civilization is started with the river valleys in China but it's amazing how continuously civilizations were and it's also amazing how how modern their writing was relative to modern Chinese script and that's why historians believe that writing of this form was because of how advanced it was was probably in place for a long time before we see these oracle bones so even though we don't have the strong archaeological evidence yet for the Shia dynasty there's a lot of evidence that by the time the Shang came about the Chinese civilization was already quite well developed around the Yellow River and the Yangtze