The Bronze Age
Ancient China for Kids
Looking back through time, first there was the Stone Age (stone tools and weapons). Then the Bronze Age (bronze tools and weapons). Then the Iron Age (iron tools and weapons).
The Bronze Age started around 1700 BCE in ancient China. This is when men learned how to mine copper and tin to make bronze weapons. Bronze is a combination of 10% tin and 90% copper. Bronze weapons are much stronger than stone weapons. The discovery of bronze changed a great many things. For one thing, miners and craftsmen were needed to mine tin and copper, and to make bronze weapons. That meant farmers had to learn how to produce more food than they needed because not everyone was farming. That meant weavers and potters were needed to clothe the miners and craftsmen, and to provide pottery containers to the farmers to use to store food. Most people were still farmers, but labor was getting organized.
A new dynasty took over, the Shang Dynasty. The Shang ruled for about 600 years. Then the Chou Dynasty took over. They ruled for about 800 years. Both the Shang and Chou ruled China during the Bronze Age. That's a long time! In that time, Shang and Chou craftsmen learned to use bronze for more than weapons. They made tools out of bronze. This helped farmers and craftsmen and miners produce more food, goods, and minerals. They made bowls, bells, drums, cups, axes, and many other things out of bronze. Bronze survives through time much better than items made of wood or clay. Archaeologists have found bronze artifacts decorated with designs of animals and designs of people playing musical instruments, made in Shang times long ago. These discoveries have helped us to understand more about daily life in ancient China during the Bronze Age.