Shang Dynasty

1765-1112 BCE

Religion / Culture / Social Life

The daily life in my dynasty overall was pretty good. But, sometimes the life was bad. That also depended on the emperor who was ruling at the time. Troops fought frequently. Apart from military engagements, there were social habits, as well. Families had rituals if their ancestors died. If one of your family members died, the family still believed that they were alive, but that was in spirit form, of course. The people of the Shang dynasty believed in the afterlife, just like the ancient Egyptians did. Shang people believed that if you do not sacrifice to your ancestors, the whole family would be cursed with bad luck. The roles of girls were to get married. Once they did, they had to listen and do whatever their mother- in- law told them to do. Boys’ roles were to help their fathers in the fields. Whenever boys got married, they usually stayed with their family their whole life. Older people were very well respected. The oldest person in the family was in charge of the household until they died. The Shang people made pottery, sculptures, tombs and instruments that were made out of bronze or jade. The sculptures were animal faces, animal bodies, monster faces and vessels.


The Shang people were working on establishing trade. People of the dynasty that were successful in business affairs were referred to as the 'Shang men', which meant businessmen. Shell was used as currency. The things that they traded were silk and bronze. The products that were important were bronze, jade, tombs and oracle bones. Bronze provided an opportunity to build better weapons, like swords and chariots. Jade was important to Shang people because it provided an opportunity to build interesting sculptures. Sculptures provided entertainment. Tombs were important because they provided the opportunity for a better afterlife that was important to Shang people, just like the Egyptians. Last but not least, oracle bones provided Shang people an opportunity for so-believed predictions to the future.

The Shang mostly traded with the east. They had very limited sea trade with coast dwellers. The really important areas of occupations during this dynasty were fishing, agriculture, pottery makers, weavers, embroiders and most important, craftsmen workers. The reason why craftsmen workers were important was without them there would not be any weapons for the military to use during battles. Better trade was established during the Han dynasty through the Silk Road.

Inventions / Technology / Science & Architecture

There were some important inventions back in the Shang dynasty. Invention of building the weapons and chariots made up from bronze was important because if Shang people did not have it, they would lose battles. The second invention is tombs with many decorations. This was important to the Shang people because they believed that if they did not go to the afterlife they would never be reborn. The third invention was ancestor worship. They did this because they had to worship their ancestors. If they did not do this they believed that their family would be cursed with bad luck. The fourth invention is the lunar and Chinese calendar. This was very important because people in the Shang dynasty did not have watches or clocks. They only had calendars. The fifth invention is the oracle bones which were made out of tortoise shells. This invention was important for the Shang people because they thought it predicted the future. They also invented the chopsticks. This is going to be a funny explanation but it is true believe it or not. It was important to the people of the Shang dynasty because they believed it helped them not eat like pigs. Last of all the inventions and can be considered as being one of the most important one of was the use of bronze. The skill of the use of bronze was super important because without the bronze there would not be any good weapons, pottery, or native music instruments.
During the Shang dynasty, people built homes in rows out of wood, earth and poles with branches to serve as a roof. The homes were built by piling up dirt and pounding it with stones and wooden mallets until the dirt was hard as rocks. The homes were dome shaped. They had fire pits that were used as heaters. Some people built homes up above, higher than ground to protect them from different animals. Shang dynasty builders were also known for building temples. People build alters that served for worshiping heaven. During Shang dynasty, temples began to be decorated with bronze. One example of a palace that was built during Shang dynasty was Xia She. Tang, who was the first emperor of Shang dynasty, built a palace called Xia She to remember the Xia dynasty.


The Shang dynasty had thirty different emperors. The dynasty flourished through the ninth emperor but during the rule of the tenth, conditions became worse. Rulers in the Shang dynasty rose differently. Here are some ways the rulers rose to be in charge of the Shang dynasty. One of the rulers was Tang, who was the first ruler of the Shang dynasty. He became the emperor of the dynasty by overthrowing an evil king, named Jie. With Tang as emperor, conflicts eased, cultural and economic achievements were reached. Tang and his ministers abolished the persecution and oppression of people that was carried out by Jie. Tang was succeeded by his son, who ruled for three years. The last emperor of the Shang dynasty was Zhou who ruled for thirty three years after his father, Di Yi, was in power for thirty seven years. Zhou lost his power because of his debauchery.
The rulers of Shang dynasty helped expand and unify China. Some of the ways the rulers help expand China were expanding religion and providing bronze weapons and chariots. Having a strong army was important because it helped conquer the neighbors and expand the empire by becoming wealthier. Shang also relied on local rulers to protect and control their own people in exchange for the payment. Growing religion was also important because it helped the emperors enforce rules and allow people to believe.
The Shang dynasty eventually declined. The last emperor was overthrown by Zhou when one of the clans had rebelled. The rulers of the Shang dynasty grew wealthy and became corrupt and unjust, ignoring the needs of the poor. People believed that Zhou was a horrible leader and that caused people to rebel.