The Shang: What can we tell about an ancient civilisation from one tomb?

Article

Alf Wilkinson, last updated: 26th May 2015

Introduction: When was the Shang Dynasty?

The Shang Dynasty of China, based around the Yellow River area, is regarded as the first Chinese dynasty that we have written evidence for. It was established in around 1760 BC when Tang set up his capital in the city of Bo. Over the next 600 or 700 years the Shang Empire grew and shrank, depending on the strength or weaknesses of the ruler until finally, having moved its capital city four or five times, in 1046 BC, the Shang's very own ‘last emperor' was overthrown by the neighbouring Chou (or Zhou) Dynasty. The Shang were contemporaneous with Bronze Age Britain, with Tuthankhamun in Egypt, and with the decline of the Indus Valley civilisation...

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