The Shang Dynasty:  1500 - 1050 B.C.


Map of China under rule of the Shang Dynasty

Location:  The Shang dynasty was located in northern China, in the fertile land around the Yellow River.

Advancements and Achievements:

- developed a refined writing system that had over 2000 symbols
- made jewelry and decorations from jade
- invented the yoke, harness, and spoked wheel
- began to use horse-drawn chariots
- created a 12 month calendar with 365 and 1/4 days, based on the moon's cycles
- made bronze weapons
- made bronze armor
- made bronze tools
- made bronze ritual vessels with a high level of artistry and skill
- mass production of bronze items
- the first dynasty to unite a large part of China under one king
- developed the decimal system
- made fine woven silk

Significant Achievement:  A refined system of writing

  The most significant achievement during the Shang Dynasty was the refined writing system.  The Shang Dynasty had the first identified written history.   The writing system was dated around 1400 B.C. but was well-developed by 1200 B.C.  The writings were made on silk, bamboo sticks, stones, bronze items, ox bones and tortoise shells "oracle bones".  The writing system recorded information about business activities, warfare, weather, religious activities, and ceremonies.  There were over 2000 symbols in the writing system.  The writing system was originally made of pictographs.  Even though the style of the writing has evolved and become standardized over time, many of its symbols remain basically the same today.

Shang Dynasty bronze objects

Shang Dynasty ritual wine vessel