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The Shang dynasty is known to be the first recorded dynasty of China. It ruled around 1600-1046 BC and established the Chinese culture which is still recognized today.
See the fact file below for more information on the Shang Kingdom
or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Shang Kingdom
worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- According to legend, the Shang kingdom was established after a tribal chief named Tang successfully overthrew the Xia dynasty (2700-1600 BC) ruled by a tyrant named Jie, in what would become known as the Battle of Mingtiao.
- However, many historians doubted the existence of the Xia dynasty, thus concluding that Shang might be the earliest ruling kingdom of China in recorded history.
- The Shang kingdom had a social classification with the king at the top of the pyramid, followed by the military nobility, priests, merchants, and farmers.
- These social classes could be determined through burial. The elites were usually buried in elaborate pit tombs decorated with wealthy objects for the afterlife. On the other end of the scale, the lower classes were buried in pits of different sizes based primarily on their social status, or worse, thrown down water wells.
- From the knowledge of archaeologists and historians, the Shang were skilled workers specializing in bones, bronze, ceramics, jade, stones, shells, and wood.
- The Shang people were not nomadic. They lived off of the land but settled permanently on farmland. Their primary source of food included the farming of millet, rice, wheat, and barley crops, together with hunting. They also learned to raise domesticated animals such as dogs, pigs, sheep, oxen, and even silkworms.
- The Shang kingdom also developed a religion. They were polytheistic, worshipping many gods.
- They also adhered to ancestor worship, for it was thought that a fruitful harvest and wellbeing of the people depended on the satisfaction of their ancestors.
- Shang Ti or “the Lord on High” is known to be the main god worshipped by the Shang, who they believed to be the link between them and heavenly beings.
- Tang was the first leader of the Shang dynasty. He deviated from the tyrannical policies and excessive taxes promulgated by Jie of the Xia dynasty.
- He developed a new government that served the people rather than against them. He also started a social program backed by the Shang government dedicated to helping the poor. This program included the distribution of gold coins to poor families who needed to sell their children to survive famine; the coin was issued so they could buy their children back.
- While successfully establishing a standing army of 1,000 troops, Tang saw to it that the number of conscripts and the amount of time that the soldiers would serve were lessened.
- Shang Chou served as the last ruler of the Shang kingdom. He was known to be a cruel king because he advanced methods of torture during his reign. He was ousted by a rebel leader named Wu-wang in 1111 BC.
- The Shang were known for their contribution to mathematics, astronomy and military technology. They were believed to have used calendars to advance such knowledge.
- The traditional Chinese calendar was lunar, but farmers needed a solar-based calendar to tell the best times to plant and harvest their crops. Wan-Nien introduced this solar calendar. Through observation, he also established a 365-day year and discovered two solstices.
- Chinese characters first appeared in the Shang dynasty inscribed on cattle bones and tortoise shells which served as their language.
- The ancient Shang kingdom was also successful in construction. They developed a complex irrigation system and flood control as a protection against flooding by the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers.
- They constructed their cities through a technique called hangtu, or stamped-earth. The use of hangtu, ornate tombs, and public building projects of the kingdom, all pointed to the political and economic stability of their civilization which is still observable in the city of Erligang in Zhengzhou.
- The Shang craftsmen were also experts in stonework, especially jade.
- Intricate ornate jade workmanship could be found in their grave goods, including bodies covered in jade shingles, like armor plate.
- Prior to the establishment of the Anyang dynasty, the Shang kingdom eventually declined and collapsed around 1300 BC.
- The kingdom was weakened by unending battles with nomads and tribal wars in China.
- The Zhou dynasty (1046-226 BC), led by their powerful and ambitious King Zhou, eventually replaced the rule of the Shang dynasty due to the phase known as the Warring States Period (476-221 BC).
Shang Kingdom Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Shang Kingdom across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Shang Kingdom worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Shang dynasty which is known to be the first recorded dynasty of China. It ruled around 1600-1046 BC and established the Chinese culture which is still recognized today.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Shang Kingdom Facts
- Shang Kingdom Territory
- Shang Kingdom Rulers
- Shang Society in Pictures
- The Rise of Shang Kingdom
- A Dynastic Cycle
- Tang: the First King
- Shang Kingdom’s Legacy
- Visualizing the Shang Kingdom
- Shang Kingdom: the Yin Dynasty
- Shang Kingdom: What If?
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Link will appear as Shang Kingdom Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 5, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.