Ancient Chinese Civilization: The First Dynasty & The Bronze Age

When exploring the history of ancient China, one usually refers to the various dynasties that took place throughout time. The people who lived during the beginning of this culture have adapted to their land and became responsible for a wide-range of inventions and notions that are still used today. In this article, we will take a look at some of the important milestones, people, and facts regarding ancient Chinese civilizations.


Xia Dynasty


During early 10,000 to about 1500 BCE, the Xia Dynasty (also referred to as Hsia) existed in between this time. Stretching between 431 to 471 years (depending on who you speak to), this first dynasty had a reported 17 different kings rule, which included more than 14 generations. Preceding this dynasty, it was believed that the stuff of legend existed, namely the Three August ones and Five Emperors.


This particular dynasty saw the beginning of a structured establishment of ruing, while a civilian government was created and harsh punishment for any straying from the law was enforced. It was during this time period that the first legal codes of conduct in Chinese history had a beginning.


The Xia Dynasty was the world of the Lungshan people, who were regarded as influential engineers. Many different inventions and ways of life came from this time period, where silk was produced. The use of the potters’ wheel was also popular during this time. Inhabitants of this time period lived in baked brick houses. Flood control and irrigation are some of the contributions this particular dynasty produced.


Archeologists have been able to link historical texts with this time period as many different artifacts were uncovered from a variety of locations in China. Some of the finds included tombs, as well as bronze items.


Bronze Age


From 1500-600 BCE, the Bronze Age was observed. Two different dynasties ruled at this time. The first was called Shang and it consisted of rich nobles and struggling farmers. Through the second dynasty, Chou (also known as Zhou), politics was governed by a traditional Chinese concept regarding the legitimacy of ruling kings. It was called the Mandate of Heaven. The Chinese then believed that heaven would bestow the responsibility of ruling China onto the proper and most appropriate ruler. In turn, if heaven showcased displeasure in the way a ruler held the position, the Mandate could be given to someone more capable. Later in years, the Emperors of China would also follow this belief.


During the Bronze Age, a lot of different ways of thinking and living took place. During this time, ancestor worship became quite important amongst the people, as feudal lords emerged. Calligraphy was a popular form of expression and communication. Chariots were driven and bowmen took to nature, and also became of great use during the very popular royal hunts.


Researchers have been able to learn a great deal about ancient Chinese civilization by analyzing some of the artifacts that were uncovered during this time period. For instance, bronze candlesticks have been discovered dating back to this time. Jade carvings were very telling from this dynasty. Ideas and beliefs were also written out through their version of Chinese writing, which dealt with a series of pictographs.