What was the Shang Dynasty best known for?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The Shang Dynasty was a period of time in China that began in 1600 BC and lasted to 1046 BC. The Shang Dynasty is known for its technological advancement and sophisticated craftsmanship in bronze and ceramic. Despite these innovations, the Shang Dynasty should best be remembered for introducing writing systems to China. Earliest Chinese writing on the archaeological record is found on tortoise shells. A priest would essentially write messages on animal bones or shells and then burn them. They would interpret the cracks and damage from heat as predictions about the future. Some of the artifacts have a few dozens symbols while others have hundreds. Some of the earliest messages were carved with a pointed stylus but later were written with a brush of some sort. The priests wrote these messages at the behest of the royal family. This is how writing developed in China and was an important development that occurred during the Shang Dynasty.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Shang Dynasty was in power a very long time ago and so there is not a tremendous amount of information about it available.  They did have written records, but none of it survived to the present.

Therefore, the Shang are really known mostly by archaeological research.  The dynasty is best known for two things--cast bronze artifacts and writing.  The Shang Dynasty is the source of more than 10,000 bronze vessels.  Many of these are of beautiful design and artistry.   In addition, it is from the Shang Dynasty that we have our first evidence of writing in China.  This is writing that was done on bones or turtle shells which were then used to predict the future.

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