Chinese Civilization For 5000 years – Episode 1

Another briliant Chinese documentary on Chinese civilization (文明).
Episode 1 describes the origin of the civilization, Xia and Shang and Zhou dynasties.

IOrigin  of Chinese civilization ,

一,文明的起源 (qi3 yuan2),

Historical relics on Neolith Era and Hemudu Sites is the origination of Chinese civilization .Bronze Wares on Xia,Shang,Zhou Dynasty incarnate the most ancient dynasty.

新石器时代文物,河姆渡文化遗址是中华五千年文明的起源,夏商周时期的青铜器,是最早 王朝的浓缩.


===============  Translations ===================================

新石器时代文物 = Xin Shi2 Qi4 shi dai Wen2 wu4 = Neolith Era historical relics

河姆渡文化遗址 = He Mu Du Wen2 Hua4 Yi2 Zhi3 = Hemudu Chinese culture ruin) 

是中华五千年文明的起源 = Shi Zhong Hua3 Wu Qian2 Nian2  Wen2 Ming2 De Qi3 Yuan2 = Is origin of China’s 5000 years civilization)

夏商周时期的青铜器 = Xia, Shang, Zhou Shi2 Qi De Qing Tong2 Qi4 = Xia, Shang and Zhou periods bronze tools)

是最早 王朝的浓缩 = Shi Zui Zao Wang Zhao De Nong2 Suo4  = Are earliest solid manisfestation of the dynasties)


Again, thanks to someone called Juanpingz for uploading videos to Youtube, and also for providing the background notes.


1,the Yangshao Culture located along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, decorated with a string pattern.The Yangshao culture (Chinese: 仰韶文化; pinyin: Yǎngsháo wénhuà) was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the central Yellow River in China. The Yangshao culture is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC. The culture is named after Yangshao, the first excavated representative village of this culture, which was discovered in 1921 in Henan Province. The culture flourished mainly in the provinces of Henan, Shaanxi and Shanxi.


Among the numerous overlapping phases of the Yangshao culture, the most prominent phases, typified by differing styles of pottery, include:

Banpo phase, approximately 4800 BC to 4200 BC, central plane

Miaodigou phase, circa 4000 BC to 3000 BC, successor to Banpo

Majiayao phase, approximately 3300 BC to 2000 BC, in Gansu, Qinghai

Banshan phase, approximately 2700 BC to 2300 BC, successor to Majiayao

Machang phase, approximately 2400 BC to 2000 BC


2,The Hemudu culture (河姆渡文化) (5000 BC to 4500 BC) was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China. The site at Hemudu was discovered in 1973. Hemudu sites were also discovered on the islands of Zhoushan.

Material Culture

The Hemudu culture co-existed with the Majiabang culture as two separate and distinct cultures, with cultural transmissions between the two. Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with salt, forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. The Hemudu people lived in long, stilt houses.

The Hemudu culture is one of the earliest cultures to cultivate rice. Most of the artifacts discovered at Hemudu consist of animal bones, exemplified by hoes made of shoulder bones used for cultivating rice.

The culture also produced lacquer wood. The remains of various plants, including water caltrop, Nelumbo nucifera, acorns, beans, Gorgon euryale and bottle gourd, were found at Hemudu. The Hemudu people likely domesticated pigs, water buffalo and dogs. The people at Hemudu also fished and hunted, as evidence by the remains of bone harpoons and bows and arrowheads. Music instruments, such as bone whistles and wooden drums, were also found at Hemudu.

The culture produced a thick, porous pottery. The distinct pottery was typically black and made with charcoal powder. Plant and geometric designs were commonly painted onto the pottery; the pottery was sometimes also cord-marked. The culture also produced carved jade ornaments, carved ivory artifacts and small, clay figurines.


Fossilized amoeboids and pollen suggests Hemudu culture emerged and developed in the middle of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. A study of a sea-level highstand in the Ningshao Plain from 7000 — 5000BP shows that there may have been stabilized lower sea levels at this time followed by, from 5000 to 3900 BP, frequent flooding.

—————————————- ———

I,Xia Dynasty夏朝(c21th-c.16th century B.C)

II,Shang Dynasty商朝(c16th-11th,century B.C.)

III,Zhou Dynasty周朝

1,Western zhou 西周(c11th-771 B.C.)






The Liangzhu culture (Chinese: 良渚文化; pinyin: liángzhǔ wénhuà) (3400-2250 BC) was the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta of China. Its area of influence extended from Lake Tai in the north to Nanjing and Shanghai in the east and Hangzhou in the south. The culture was highly stratified, as jade, silk, ivory and lacquer artefacts were found exclusively in elite burials, while pottery was more commonly found. The type site at Liangzhu was discovered in Yuhang County, Zhejiang and initially excavated by Shi Xingeng in 1936.

Advanced agriculture included irrigation, paddy rice cultivation and aquaculture. Houses were often constructed with stilts on rivers or shorelines.

The jade from this culture is characterized by finely-worked large ritual jades, commonly incised with the taotie motif. The most exemplary artefacts from the culture were its cong (cylinders). The largest cong discovered weighed 3.5 kg. Bi (discs) and Yue axes (ceremonial axes) were also found. Jade pendants were also found, designed with engraved representations of small birds, turtles and fish. Many Liangzhu jade artefacts had a white milky bone-like aspect due to its tremolite rock origin and influence of water-based fluids at the burial sites, although jade made from actinolite and serpentine were also commonly found.

An neolithic alter from the Liangzhu culture, excavated at Yaoshan in Zhejiang, demonstrate that religious structures were elaborate and made of carefully positioned piles of stones and rock walls, indicating that religion was of considerable importance. The alter has three levels, the highest being a platform of rammed earth. Three additional platforms were paved with cobblestones. There are the remains of a stone wall. On the alter are twelve graves in two rows.





1,The Xia Dynasty (Chinese: 夏朝; pinyin: xià cháo; Wade-Giles: hsia-ch’ao), ca. 2070 BC–1600 BC, of China is a quasi-legendary dynasty and the first to be described in the Records of the Grand Historian and unofficial Bamboo Annals, which record the names of seventeen kings over fourteen generations lasted 431 or 471 years. The dynasty was preceded by the mythological Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, and followed by the Shang Dynasty.


2,Yǔ (Chinese: (21st century BC), born Sì WénmìngChinese: 姒文命), often regarded with legendary status as Yu the Great (大禹 Dà-Yǔ), was the first ruler and founder of the Xia Dynasty. He was born the year 2059 B.C., said to be on the Year of the Tiger. Occasionally identified as one of The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, he is best remembered for teaching the people flood control techniques to tame China’s rivers and lakes.

Yu established his capital at Yang City (阳城). According to the Bamboo Annals, in the second year of his reign, the prime minister of the previous king of Shun died. In the 5th year, he held the first meeting with all the leaders of the states (诸侯) at Tushan (涂山). In the 8th year, he held a second meeting with all the leaders of states at Kuaiji (会稽), and in order to reinforce his hold on the throne, killed one of northern leaders, Fangfeng (防风氏).

Yu and the flood

During China’s Great Flood, Yu’s father, Gun (), was assigned by King Yao () to tame the raging waters. Gun built earthen dikes all over the land in the hope of containing the waters. But the earthen dikes collapsed everywhere and the project failed miserably. Gun was executed by King Shun (), to whom Yao had handed the rulership. Shun recruited Yu as successor to his father’s flood-control efforts. Instead of building more dikes, Yu began to dredge new river channels, to serve both as outlets for the torrential waters, and as irrigation conduits to distant farm lands. Yu spent a backbreaking thirteen years at this task, with the help of some 20,000 workers.

For this engineering feat, Yu has been remembered as an examplar of perseverance and determination and revered as the perfect civil servant. Stories continue to dwell on his single-minded dedication. In spite of passing his own house three times during those thirteen years, he never once stopped in for a family visit, reasoning that a personal reunion would distract him from dealing with the public crisis at hand.

King Shun was so impressed by Yu’s engineering work and diligence that he passed the throne to Yu instead of to his own son, following King Yao’s example in rewarding merit. At the end of Great Yu’s life, however, his ministers favoured passing the throne to Yu’s son, Qi (), instituting a hereditary monarchy. This created China’s first hereditary dynasty, the Xia Dynasty (ca.2070-1060).


3,Yinxu (Chinese: 殷墟; pinyin: Yīnxū; literally "Ruins of Yin") is the ruins of the last capital of China’s Shang Dynasty (1766 BC – 1050 BC). The capital served 255 years for 12 kings in 8 generations.

It is famous as the original source of oracle bones and oracle bone script, the earliest recorded form of Chinese writing.

Archaeological discoveries

The first excavations at Yinxu were lead by Li Chi of the Institute of History and Philosophy from 1928-37.

They uncovered the remains of a royal palace, several royal tombs, and more than 100,000 oracle bones that show the Shang had a well-structured script with a complete system of written signs. Since 1950 ongoing excavations by the Archeological Institute of the Chinese Social Sciences Academy have uncovered evidence of stratification at the Hougang site, remains of palaces and temples, royal cemeteries, oracle bone inscriptions, bronze and bone workshops and the discovery of the Shang city on the north bank of the Huang River.One of the largest and oldest sites of Chinese archaeology, excavations here have laid the foundation for work across the country.

Excavation sites

At 30km² this is the largest archaeological site is China and excavations have uncovered over 80 rammed-earth foundation sites including palaces, shrines, tombs and workshops. From these remains archaeologists have been able to confirm that this was the spiritual and cultural center of the Yin Dynasty.

Burial pit at Tomb of Lady Fu HaoThe best preserved of the Shang Dynasty royal tombs unearthed at Yinxu is the In 1988 after archaeologists’ proposal Yinxu became the listed as the oldest of the seven Historical capitals of China and in 2006 the site was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.



Wu Ding (Chinese: 武丁, born Zi Zhao, Chinese: 子昭) was a Shang Dynasty King of China.

His is the first historically verifiable name in the history of Chinese dynasties. The records of later historians that recorded his reign were long thought to be little more than legends until contemporary records of his reign were discovered in oracle script inscriptions on bones unearthed at the ruins of his capital Yinxu in 1899.

In the 6th year of his father’s reign, he was ordered to live at He (Chinese: ) and study at Ganpan (Chinese: 甘盘). These early years spent among the common people allowed him to become familiar with their daily problems.

In the Records of the Grand Historian he was listed by Sima Qian as the twenty-second Shang king, succeeding his father Xiao Yi (Chinese: 小乙). He was enthroned in the year of Dingwei (Chinese: 丁未) with Gan Pan (Chinese: 甘盘) as his prime minister and Yin (Chinese: ) as his capital.

He cultivated the allegiance of neighbouring tribes by marrying one woman from each of them. His favoured consort Fu Hao entered the royal household through such a marriage and took advantage of the semi-matriarchal slave society to rise through the ranks to military general and high priestess.

In the 3rd year of his reign he had vivid dreams about the way to rule his kingdom. He went on to ordered his prime minister to edit the book of ruling in the 6th year of his reign. He also ordered all the people must support their elders. In the 12th year of his regime, he promoted Shangjiawei to a position of power to exercise control over the Qi (Chinese: ) people.

In the 25th year of his reign, his son Zu Ji (Chinese: 祖己) died at a remote area after he exiled him. His mother died before and the new wife of Wu Ding does not like Zi Xiao.

In the 29th year of his reign, he conducted rituals in honour of his ancestor King Tang, the first king of the Shang Dynasty, at the Royal Temple. Angered by the presence of a wild chicken standing on one of the ceremonial bronze vessels, he condemned his vassals and wrote an article called Gao Zong Tong Day (Chinese: 高宗肜日).

In the 32nd year of his reign, he sent troops to Guifang (Chinese: 鬼方) and after 3 years of fighting he conquered it. The Di (Chinese: ) and Qiang (Chinese: ) barbarians immediately sent envoys to Shang to negotiate. His armies went on to conquer Dapeng (Chinese: 大彭) in the 43th year of his reign, and Tunwei (Chinese: 豕韦) in the 50th year of his reign.

He died in the 59th year of his reign according to all the sources available. Widely regarded one of best kings of the Shang Dynasty, he was given the posthumous name Wu Ding (Chinese: 武丁) and was succeeded by his son Zu Geng (Chinese: 祖庚).

The oracle script inscriptions on the bones unearthed at Yinxu alternatively record that he was the twenty-first Shang king.








1,King Wen (Chinese: 周文王; pinyin: Zhōu Wén Wáng) (1099–1050 BC) was the founder of the later Zhou Dynasty.

The Zhou state was located in the Wei River valley in present day Shaanxi Province. At one point, King Zhou of Shang, fearing Wen’s growing power, imprisoned him. However, many officals respected Wen for his honourable governing. So they gave King Zhou many gifts, and requested Wen ‘s release. These gifts included gold, horses and women. Zhou agreed, and Wen was released.

King Wen planned the conquest of the current dynasty in power, the Shang Dynasty, but he died before he could accomplish this.

His family name was Ji (Chinese: ; pinyin: jī). He married TaiSi (Chinese: 太姒; pinyin: Tàisì) and had at least two sons, Zhou Gong Dan and Zhou Gong Wu (Chinese: 周公武; pinyin: Zhōu Gōng Wǔ). His second son became King Wu of Zhou and completed his fathers wishes by defeating the Shang army at their capital. He eventually became the first king of the new Zhou dynasty.

King Wen is also known for his contributions to the Yi Jing, a manual of divination. King Wen is attributed with having stacked the eight trigrams in their various permutations, to create the sixty-four hexagrams. He is also said to have written the judgements which are appended to each hexagram (the line statements are attributed to his son, the Duke of Zhou. The most commonly used sequence of the sixty four hexagrams is attributed to King Wen and is usually referred to as the King Wen sequence.


2,King Wu of Zhou (Chinese: 周武王; pinyin: zhōu wŭ wáng) or King Wu of Chou was the first sovereign of the Chinese Zhou Dynasty. Various sources quoted that he died at the age of 93, 54 or 43. Zhou Gong Dan was one of his brothers.

King Wu was the second son of King Wen of Zhou. After ascending to the throne, King Wu tried to accomplish his father’s dying wish: the defeat of the Shang Dynasty. King Wu used many wise government officials–most notably Prime Minister Jiang Ziya, a man evidentially declared as "the master of strategy"–resulting in the Zhou government growing far stronger as the years elapsed.

In 1048 BC, King Wu called for a meeting of the surrounding dukes at Meng Jin. More than 800 dukes came to the meeting. In 1046 BC, seeing that the Shang government was in a shambles, King Wu launched an attack along with many neighboring dukes. In the Battle of Muye, Shang forces were destroyed, and King Di Xin of Shang set his palace on fire and burned himself to death.

Following the victory, King Wu established many smaller feudal states under the rule of his brothers and generals. He died three years later in 1043 BC.


3,Jiang Ziya (Chinese: 姜子牙, Pinyin: Jiāng Zǐyá) (dates of birth and death unknown), a Chinese semi-mythological figure, resided next to the Weishui River about 3,000 years ago. The region was the feudal estate of King Wen of Zhou. Jiang Ziya knew King Wen was very ambitious so he hoped to get his attention.

He often went angling at the Weishui River, but he would fish in a bizarre way. He hung a straight hook, with no bait, three feet above the water. He over and over again said to himself, "Fish, if you are desperate to live, come and gulp down the hook by yourself."

In a little while his outlandish way of fishing was reported to King Wen, who sent a soldier to bring him back. Jiang noticed the soldier coming, but did not care about him. Jiang just continued with his fishing, and was soliloquising, "Fishing, fishing, no fish has been hooked—but shrimp is up to tomfoolery." The soldier reported this back to King Wen, who became more interested in Jiang.

King Wen sent a bureaucrat to invite Jiang this time. But Jiang again paid no attention to the invitation. He simply carried on fishing, saying, "Fishing, fishing, the big fish has not been hooked—but a small one is up to mischief."

Then King Wen realized Jiang might be a great genius so he went to invite Jiang personally, and brought many magnificent gifts with him. Jiang saw the king’s earnest desire so Jiang decided to work for him.

Jiang aided King Wen and his son in their overthrow of the Shang Dynasty; they established the Zhou Dynasty in its stead. Jiang was given the title (hao) of Taigong so people called him Jiang Taigong. His treatise on military strategy, Six Secret Teachings, is considered one of the Seven Military Classics of Ancient China.

Jiang Ziya’s seventh generation descendant (his great-grandson’s great-grandson’s son) was Jiang Chi (姜赤). Jiang Chi had a great-grandson named Shi (), who was given a piece of land in Shandong province called "Lu" (). He took his surname from the land. All Chinese with the last name Lu () can trace their ancestry back to Jiang Ziya.




About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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