IntroductionFor around 500 years, from approximately 1556 BC to 1046 BC, the emperors of the Shang Dynasty ruled over ancient China. During these centuries the Shang people had some amazing and important achievements. On this page we list what some of the major accomplishments, advancements, and inventions were of this ancient culture. This information is written for both kids and adults.
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Shang Dynasty Achievements - Writing
- The Shang were the first people of China to develop writing. Their writing system consisted of over 2000 symbols.
- Originally ancient Chinese writing contained only pictographs which are images that represent objects. The Shang people developed a method of writing called logograph which uses characters to represent words.
- The oldest ancient Chinese writing is found on Oracle bones. Important information about the history of the Shang Dynasty has been obtained from this source. This information includes a chronological record of the emperors of the dynasty and also confirms the very existence of this ancient civilization. Priest carved questions into Oracle bones, which were usually made from tortoise shells or ox bones, after which a hot metal rod was applied until the bone or shell cracked at which point the priest would interpret the cracks and write down his interpretation.
- The Shang system of writing contained all the principles used in modern day Chinese writing. Chinese writing has changed very little since its development during the Shang Dynasty.
- The Shang's writing system was used throughout the empire and helped unify the empire.
Shang Dynasty Achievements - Bronze
- The Shang and the Zhou dynasties are often referred to as the Bronze Age of China. Bronze casting was perhaps the greatest technology of the Shang Dynasty.
- The people of this period took bronze craftsmanship to an amazing level. The Shang people used bronze to make objects ranging from jewelry to weapons.
- Numerous beautiful works of art made with bronze during the Shang Dynasty have been discovered.
- Bronze objects were created by sculpting an object and then making a mold of it. Molten bronze was then poured into the mold. When the bronze hardened the mold was broken and the bronze piece was removed.
- Bronze weapons during this period included spears, axes, and bows. They even produced bronze chariots. Bronze helmets were also used by the army.
- Numerous bronze artifacts have been discovered in the tombs of the Shang emperors and nobility.
- Bronze tools were created by the Shang.
- One stunning archaeological discovery containing numerous bronze objects was the tomb of queen Fuhao. Unearthed in 1976 this undisturbed tomb, which dates to approximately 1200 BC, contained over 400 bronze objects.
Other Achievements of the Shang Dynasty
- Farming was important to the people of the Shang Dynasty; they were responsible for numerous advancements in farming including advanced methods of irrigation and flood control.
- An amazing achievement for their time was the development of an accurate calendar system. The Shang people developed a calendar that had a 360-day year made up of 12 months, each with 30 days. Periodically they would inserted months into the calendar to adjust to the solar year.
- During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese domesticated the horse.
- An important achievement of the Shang was the development of the chariot. The chariot was an important weapon used in battle enabling soldiers to move long distances quickly.
- The earliest known mathematics dates back to the Shang Dynasty. Mathematical symbols have been found on Oracle bones dating to this ancient civilization.