This map gives us some understanding of Chinese geography. The earliest organized settlements clustered around the Yellow River in the north with a few located on the banks of the Yangtze River in the south. The long history of China demonstrates an outward expansion and consolidation. The thin red line gives the approximate border of modern China. The thicker red line shows the borders of China during the Zhou (also spelled Chou) dynasty in the 6th century BCE. (You will find different transcriptions of Chinese words since it is extremely difficult to use to letters of one language to accurately reproduce the sounds of another. Following what is known as Pinyin, recent scholars have changed many of the earlier transcriptions; for example, "Peking" is now transcribed as "Beijing." You will see other examples as you read books about China.)
The Shang had ruled a fairly small area, about the size of Ohio, with their capital at Anyang. About the 11th century BCE the Shang dynasty was overthrown by conquerors from the west who established the Zhou (Chou)dynasty. At first the Zhou rulers kept their capital in the west at Xian and then they moved it to Loyang, closer to the center of their new realm. You can find Loyang and Xian on the map as well as the old Shang capital at Angang.
The Zhou ruled a much larger area than the Shang. They established what was essentially a feudal structure in which various local lords held their land at the behest of the ruler and owed their allegiance to him. However, these local administrators gradually transformed their positions from those of appointed officials to hereditary rulers.
There was constant tension between agrarian Chinese and pastoral peoples of steppes to the north and west, with a constant expansion & shrinking of territory. In an attempt to protect itself against the pastoral marauders, the Chinese gradually constructed the Great Wall, which we shall discuss later in the lesson. Two of the pastoral groups managed to conquer China, the Mongols in 1260 who established the Yuan dynasty, and the Manchus in 1644 who established the Qing (Qing) dynasty, but these conquerors were slowly swallowed up by the peoples they had conquered.
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