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Chinese History - Shang Period Geography

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The kingdom or empire of the kings of the Shang dynasty 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE) had its core area in the middle course of the Yellow River, in the modern province of Henan and the western part of Shandong. The royal seats were often transferred to safer or more auspicous places. Traditional histories enumerate the capitals Bo 亳 (modern Caoxian 曹縣, Shandong), Ao 隞 or 囂 (Yingyang 滎陽, Henan), Xiang 相 (Neihuang 內黃, Henan), Geng 邢 or 耿 (Xingtai 邢台, Hebei, or Wenxian 溫縣,Henan), Bi 庇 (Yuncheng 鄆城, Shandong), Yan 奄 (Qufu 曲阜, Shandong), Yin 殷 or Beimeng 北蒙 (Anyang 安陽, Henan), Mo 沬 or Chaoge 朝歌 (Qixian 淇縣, Henan). The last residence of the kings of Shang was Yin, for which reason the dynasty is also known under that name. Archeologists refer to the remains of this city as "ruins of Yin" (Yinxu 殷墟). Historiographical texts as well as oracle bone inscriptions mention a lot of place names that can only crudely be identified with modern places because not all of them survived the Shang period. Names of more distant communities and states that were not direcly controlled by the Shang kings were commonly given the suffix fang 方. Such were Guifang 鬼方, Tufang 土方, or Gongfang {工/口}方. It can be assumed that many of them were polities of non-Chinese peoples, like the Quanrong 犬戎, inhabitants of the western region, or the peoples of the Huai River 淮河 region like the Yifang 夷方.
It is assumed that in the 15th century BCE the kingdom of the Shang experienced its largest expansion, with colonies even in the Yangtze River valley and beyond. The cultural achievements of the Shang, most visible in the ritual bronze vessels, were adopted by many of the surrounding peoples, but altered according to their cultural concepts. Most famous are the bronze masks found in Sanxingdui 三星堆, Sichuan.
In the far west, around modern Xi'an, Shaanxi, lived the people of the Zhou 周 whose rulers experienced a sudden rise in power and in the mid-11th century BCE conquered the Shang kingdom.

2000 ff. © Ulrich Theobald · Mail

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