Zhou Dynasty

By: Tiffany Oxenreider

Political History

The first emperor of the Zhou Dynasty was King Wen. His son, King Wu, eventually attacked the Shang Emperor and defeated him in a famous battle in which, by tradition, some 50,000 troops under King Wu took on a force of 70,000 commanded by the Shang emperor and won. Later in the Duke of Zhou established a new capital near Luoyang after quickly capturing a series of about 50 small, semi-independent states and making their rulers his vassals, or underlings. The three main rulers of this Dynasty were King Wen, King Wu, and The Duke of Zhou. The Zhou Dynasty was around for 2 centuries. But in 770 BC several powerful states rebelled forcing the Zhou to move from their capital near Xian to present day Luoyang, east of the previous capital.


Known as the bronze age. They would make inscriptions to record events and report them to ancestral spirits. By late Zhou times a long inscription might have well over 400 characters. The longest discovered so far is on the cauldron of Duke Mao, which has 499 characters.


Chinese New Year: 1st-15th of the first lunar month

Lantern Festival: 15th day of the first lunar month

Qingming Festival: April 4th or 5th of the solar calendar

Dragon Boat Festival: 5th day of the 5th lunar month

Double Seventh Festival: 7th day of the 7th lunar month

Mid-autumn Festival: 15th day of the 8th lunar month

Chongyang Festival: 9th day of the 9th lunar month

Winter Solstice: Dec. 21st, 22nd, or 23rd in solar calendar

Laba Festival: 8th day of the 12th lunar month

Social change, inventions, and improvements

There were many improvements and inventions during this time. Some of those where silk, iron, copper coins, crossbow, acupuncture, chopsticks, improved irrigation system, and an improved calendar. Trade was important for the government at this time. They mainly traded amongst their own states. The people were chosen to work for the government by birth rather than talent. In many cases agriculture was directed by the government. The government stored surplus food and distributed them in times of bad harvest. The social class was based on the Confucian belief- emperors above all, scholars following at a close second, farmers before merchants, and merchants before slaves and women.