Early China is believed to have been on of the most isolated of all ancient civilizations as it independently developed agriculture and metalworking. However, it shared characteristics of early civilizations, such as having an agrarian bases, being bordered by desert and steppe lands, having a long series of dynastic monarchies, and enduring frequent invasions particularly by nomads and Turco-Mongolians. Renowned dynasties of early China included Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties. Shang dynasty existed between 1700 and 1045 BCE. Several characteristics of early Chinese culture, belief, and social organization were developed in the Shang period.
Important innovations such as bronze casting and writing were made during the Shang period. Oracle bones were other significant cultural developments that characterized early Chinese culture in the Shang period (Adler & Pouwels, 2018). These bones were mainly used to discern divines wishes. Shang sages used the flat surfaces of the bones to incise earliest surviving examples of Chinese ideographs with the messages being addressed to the gods.
Another notable development in the Shang period characterizing early Chinese culture, belief, and social organization was the distinctive Chinese architectural style. Tile pagoda-style roof-lines and diminishing upper stories came up during Shang dynasty. Battle chariots also came up during the Shang period, and played a key role in revolutionizing warfare at the time (Adler & Pouwels, 2018). Recent excavations of burials at Anyang by Chinese archaeologists revealed both chariots and horses.
Other aspects that marked early Chinese culture the Shang period are importance of education and literacy, ruler and his household being responsible for prosperity, supreme importance of family, and emphasis on the world (Lee, 2002). The strict hierarchical Chinese society entailing a powerful king with a warrior court, skilled artisans, and peasants can also be traced to the Shang period.
Characteristics of early Chinese culture, belief, and social organizations most notably developed in the Shang period include innovations such as bronze casting and writing, oracle bones, and the distinctive Chinese architectural style. Other aspects of Chinese life witnessed in the Shang period include emphasis on the world, supreme importance of family, ruler and his household responsible for prosperity, strict hierarchical Chinese society, as well as importance of education and literacy.
Adler, P. J., & Pouwels, R. L. (2018). Ancient China to 221 BCE. In World civilizations. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Lee, Y. K. (2002). Building the chronology of early Chinese history. Asian Perspectives, 15-42. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/42928543?seq=1