East211 Ch 1 Notes

Topics: Shang Dynasty, Neolithic, China Pages: 7 (1644 words) Published: September 26, 2011
The Neolithic Age
• Archeological evidence
o Humanoids lived as long as 1 million years ago in Southwest China; used fire ▪ Fossils discovered in Yunnan province
o Peking man (a proto-human) lived about half a million years ago in North China; used fire & primitive flaked/stone tools ▪ Fossils discovered near Beijing
• Neolothic ( cultures with polished stone implements, pottery, agriculture o South China
▪ Rice cultivation
← Warm, wet climate good for rice cultivation ▪ Raising of dogs
o North China
▪ Millet cultivation

2 accounts of the origins of Chinese civilization
• 1) The nuclear area thesis (Kwang-chih Chang,1960’s) o Oldest modern narrative
o Argues that Chinese civilization originated from a single culture of millet farmers (Yangshao culture) in the North China Plains. Around 5000 B.C.E. they radiated outwards ▪ Scholars tracked the diffusion of Yangshao based on the movement of material culture • 2) The interactive spheres thesis

o A revision of nuclear area thesis (Chang changed his mind) o Argues that the Yangshao was one culture among many. Around 4000 B.C.E., Neolithic cultures in the North China Plains started sharing & trading technology. Around 3000 B.C.E., many of these cultures converged & gave rise to China ▪ Takes into account discoveries of other cultures in various parts of China (such as Daxi & Xinle) ▪ See map, figure 1.2, p. 5

o Criticisms
▪ Questioned whether China emerged as a single, coherent civilization as early as 3000 B.C.E. ( material records show a lot of cultural variation after the Neolithic Age ▪ Chinese civilization is a relatively recent invention ( absence of a single word in Chinese for China until the 19th century

The origins of Chinese writing
• Ancient China ( inhabited by speakers of many languages o Sino-Tibetan language (most important); gave rise to modern Chinese and Tibetan o Austroasiatic; gave rise to modern Vietnamese and Khmer o Indo-European; gave rise to modern French, English, Hindi • Scholarly debates over the origins of Chinese writing o Some argue; writing predates Shang ( marks found on Neolithic pottery fragments, dating to 5th millennium B.C.E. ▪ Problem: the marks do not match characters found in the Shang oracle bones o Some argue; Chinese writing system was imported from outside China ▪ Little evidence for this hypothesis

o Most argue; emergence of Chinese script probably occurred not long before 1200 B.C.E. & was of indigenous origin • Common myths
o Chinese script is comprised of pictographs (stylized pictorial representations) & ideograms (visual representations through association) ▪ Fact; few characters, ancient or modern, are true pictographs ← Early Chinese graphs represent words ← Figure 1.4, p. 8

o Chinese script it entirely unphonetic
▪ Fact; most characters have some phonetic component

The rise of the Bronze Age
• Late Neolithic Era = period of cultural diversity & social change, growth of social stratification o Material records found at Longshan cultural sites • Major differences between Longshan & Yangshao

o Town enclosures built with rammed earth at Longshan ( implying need to protect against hostile ‘others’ o Concentration of wealth in the graves of Longshan ( suggesting distribution of wealth was highly unequal, unlike Yangshao • How archeologists define the Bronze Age

o Bronze Age...
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