1700 BCE to 1100 BCE
Chou (also called Zhou, pronounced "joe") Dynasty
About 1100 BCE to 250 BCE
Shang and Chou times are known for their use
of jade, bronze, horse-drawn chariots, ancestor
worship, highly organized armies, and human sacrifice.
Cities were surrounded by protective walls.
One city was surrounded by a wall 30 feet high, 65 feet thick, and
4 1/2 miles long! Inside these walled cities lived the rulers,
priests, and warriors. Merchants and craftsmen lived in mud houses
built up against the outside walls of the cities. Farmers lived in
were invented, which changed the way people ate their
For both the rich and the poor, the family was all
important. The oldest male was the head of the family. If one
member of a family did something wrong, the entire family was in
disgrace. Amongst the nobles, marriages were arranged to strength or to
create a union between two clans or families.
The young obeyed their
parents without a fuss. This was important part of ancestor
worship. Even a wealthy noble with many servants might patch his
father's robe with his own hands. Children looked forward to the day
when they would be parents, and their children would honor them.
The role of the woman was to be gentle, calm,
respectful, and to obey her husband. In ancient China, home and family
were so important that they were nearly sacred.
Shang & Chou kings and
nobles: The rich lived in large homes and
palaces made of mud and wood. They had tall bronze candlesticks.
They used bronze drinking cups. (Shang leaders were famous for
their drinking bouts.) They loved to hunt. Their bronze weapons
were decorated with elaborate designs. Horseback riding was very
popular, both as a sport and, in late Chou times, as a method of war.
(Chariots had not worked very well as the landscape was rather bumpy and
The nobles wore elaborate gowns of silk and
lived in large, brick homes with tiled roofs. They were lavishly
decorated and furnished. Jugs of wine lined the walkways. The air was
scented with flowers in the gardens and spices from pots of food
steaming on stoves.
They were buried in lavish tombs. Unlike the
ancient Egyptians, the Shang and Chou were buried with living people.
In their tombs, archaeologists have found entire chariots, objects of
art, and the remains of guards and dogs who accompanied kings to their