Ancient China

Ancient China
Section 1: Geography and Early China
China’s Physical Geography
• Geographical features separated groups of people within China.
• Others separated China from the rest of the world.
• China covers an area of nearly 4 million sq. miles (about the same
size as the US)
• The Gobi
• Low-lying plains
• Cover most of eastern China
• One of the world’s largest farming regions
• The Pacific Ocean
• The country’s eastern boundary
• The Plateau of Tibet
• Southwest
• Qinling Shandi
• Separates northern China from southern China
• Weather and temperature patterns vary widely across China
Northeast – cold and dry
Northwest – deserts are very dry
Eastern plains – heavy rains
Tropical southeast – wettest region
• Monsoons
• Two great rivers
1. Huang He (Yellow River)
• 3,000 miles across northern China
• Often floods; leaves behind a layer of silt
• Can be very destructive – called China’s Sorrow
2. Chang Jiang (Yangzi River)
• Cuts through central China
• Flows from the mountains of Tibet to the Pacific Ocean
• Longest river in Asia
Civilization Begins
• China first settled along rivers
• Farmed, built villages and forms a civilization
• Separate cultures developed in southern and northeastern China
• These included the Sanxingdui and Hongshan peoples
• Little is known about them
• Features of China’s earliest settlements:
• Used potter’s wheels, dug wells, homes in villages buried partly
underground, strawcovered roofs, animal pens, storage pits, cemeteries,
walls to protect settlements from flooding and hostile neighbors
China’s First Dynasties
• Xia Dynasty
• A series of kings rules early China
• One of them, Yu the Great, is said to have founded the Xia Dynasty
• Tales claim that Yu created some of China’s major waterways because of
terrible floods
• Archaeologists have not yet found evidence that the tales about the Xia are
• Shang Dynasty
• The first dynasty for which we have clear evidence is the Shang
• Strongest is the Huang He Valley
• Ruled broad area of northern China
• The royal family and the nobles were at the highest level
• Artisans were at a middle level of importance
• Made beautiful bronze containers for cooking and religious ceremonies
• Axes, knives and ornaments from jade (hard gemstone)
Farmers ranked below artisans
China’s first writing system
Military developed war chariots, powerful bows and bronze body armor
Calendar based on the cycles of the moon