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Ancient China’s
1 hour
Monday May 23 at 9.30am EST/ NZ
Also available on Foxtel Download and AUSTAR AnyWhere from May 23rd to May 29th 2011.
This program focuses on recent archaeology in China and the discovery of evidence of the
Shang Dynasty.
The reign and achievements of Chinese King Wu Ding and his warrior Queen Fu Hao are
included in the broader narrative of the discovery of the Bronze Age metropolis of Anyang.
This program would be useful to students of archaeology and to students of Asian history
generally and Chinese history particularly.
Denis Mootz
This is the data collection stage of the activity.
The detailed questioning is designed to ensure that students decode the visual and aural materials
presented to them in the video.
The video programs can be stopped at the end of each section. This will allow students to share and
discuss answers.
Note the setting for the program.
Who ruled China at this time?
Why is there speculation about the Shang Dynasty?
Act 1.
Note details of the archaeological work at Anyang.
Why is this site so important to Chinese archaeology?
Why did archaeologists ‘descend’ on Anyang in 2009?
Note details of the 1976 discovery at Anyang.
Why is the discovery compared to Tutankhamen?
How many tombs have been found?
Why is one unique?
Note the comments of Dr Rod Campbell.
Note the age of this tomb.
Note the contents of the tomb. Implications?
What surprised archeologists when they studied the inscriptions?
What was Fu Hao’s official position?
What do the weapons found in the tomb suggest?
What do Shang ‘legends’ suggest?
What sources does Campbell have to help his research?
What are ‘oracle bones’?
Note the Shang ancestor beliefs. Result?
What can be learned about Fu Hao from these sources?
What do the sources tell us about Wu Ding’s reign?
What macabre discovery was made in the tomb?
Note the locations of the human sacrifices in Fu Hao’s tomb.
Who were the humans sacrificed for Fu Hao’s death?
Note Dr Rowan Flad’s comments on the ‘total’ of sacrifices. Implications?
Note what else was found in the tomb.
Note the ‘treasures’ found in the tomb.
Act 2.
Note details of Shang bronze making.
What were bronze vessels used for?
Why is the absence of gold a ‘puzzle’?
What intrigues archaeologists about Shang bronze work?
Note details of the bronze found in fu Hao’s tomb.
Note details of the process by which the bronzes were made.
How did the Shang improve the production of bronze?
Why are toxicologists investigating bronze vessels? Result? Implications?
Note the average age of Shang deaths for the skeletons found.
What are the other symptoms of chronic lead poisoning?
What picture has been pieced together of Fu Hao from her tomb.
Act 3.
Note the extent of Wu Ding’s kingdom.
What does the tomb suggest about trade in this period? Implications?
Note the origin of the materials found in Fu Hao’s tomb. Implications?
What do the cowrie shells suggest? Implications?
Note the discovery at Panlongcheng.
Note Professor Robert Murowchick’s comments on Panlongcheng. Implications?
Note the discovery at Anyang in 2009.
Why were the Chinese archaeologists ‘excited’?
What are the ‘clues’ that this is the tomb of someone important?
Note the chariots burials found at Anyang. Significance?
Note Rowan Flad’s research into the origins of horses and chariots.
How did the Shang advance chariot design?
Act 4.
Note the details of tomb M54 discovered in December 2000.
Why was this tomb ‘extraordinary? Significance?
Note the unusual finds from the tomb. Implications?
Note details of the life and death of Ya Chang.
How were peppercorns used on the battlefield? Why?
Note the human sacrifices from this tomb. Significance?
What can be found in the teeth of the victims?
Note the results of the Strontium analysis? Implications?
What other evidence suggests that Ya Chang came from Mongolia?
What did the analysis of oxygen in Ya Chang’s teeth show? Implications?
Note the search for the limits of Anyang. Result?
Note the discovery in 1999 at Huanbei.
Note the conclusions of Dr Jing Zichun from core samples taken at Huanbei.
When did the strength of Anyang falter? Result?
Act 5.
Note the achievements of the Shang Dynasty.
Note the achievements of Fu Hao.
Note the achievements of Wu Ding.
Useful, interesting, challenging, books, sources and websites will provide materials to supplement and
complement the History presented in the video program.
The data collected here should be used in the notemaking below.
Some useful Internet sites:
Oracle bones:
Shang Dynasty:
Wu Ding:
Fu Hao:
Ya Chang:
Bronze working:
Human Sacrifice:
Strontium Analysis:
Archaeological coring:
This is the collation stage of the activity. Students need to organise the field of information and begin to
explore its context.
Directions and /or Inquiry questions are provided for notemaking / summary exercises that
will follow the viewing of the video.
The materials / data for the summaries have been collected above.
The activity could be done in teams, groups, or by individuals, or as a class with teacher direction.
1. Draw up a timeline / chronological chart of the events described and discussed in this
2. Note details of the Shang Dynasty.
3. Note details of the reign of Wu Ding.
4. Note details of the life and career of Fu Hao.
5. Note details of the expanse of Wu Ding’s kingdom.
6. Note details of the site of Anyang.
7. Note details of the archaeological discoveries at Anyang and other Shang sites.
8. Note details of the oracle bones.
9. Note details of the Shang belief in an ancestor ‘cult’.
10. Note details of the culture and technology of Shang Dynasty China.
Key issues and inquiry questions that have been raised by the video are addressed at this stage for
discussion and research.
1. How much do we learn about Fu Hao in this program?
2. How technologically advanced were the Chinese in this period?
Questions of reliability and validity of the perspectives, evidence and sources presented in the video
program need to be considered, tested and researched.
1. How expansive was the ‘realm’ of Shang Dynasty China?
2. Do advanced techniques for bronze casting indicate a ‘civilised’ society?
The key issues and inquiry questions are potential topics for debate, essay writing, reports, historical
recount and explanation.
1. Write a REPORT on Fu Hao.
2. Prepare notes (both sides) for a DEBATE of the proposition that
Shang Dynasty China was a technologically advanced and civilised society.
3. Explain why human sacrifice was practiced in Shang Dynasty China.