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Yellow River Valley
2,000-200 B.C.
Geography of China:
A. Two major river systems are:
1. Yangtze River (AKA-Chang Jiang)
2. Huang He (AKA-Yellow)
B. China, like the Indus Valley, is surrounded by
natural barriers:
1. Taklamakan Desert
2. Plateau of Tibet
3. Himalaya Mountains
4. Gobi Desert
C. Deserts and mountains dominate 2/3 of the
geography of China.
1. 90% of the remaining available farm land
lies between these two rivers. “China’s Heartland”
II. Chinese attitude:
A. Chinese saw anyone who was not Chinese as
barbarians. They considered themselves to
be at the center of the civilized world.
ex. Called themselves the “Middle Kingdom”
III. Environmental Challenges:
A. Huang He River—“Yellow River” would deposit
yellow silt called loess along its banks.
This could cause flooding or drought.
ex. 1887—a flood killed nearly a million
B. Geographic Isolation did not allow trade.
Chinese Dynasties
1. Xia Dynasty—flood control, irrigation and NO
written records
A. Dynasty = ruling family
2. Shang Dynasty—(1532-1027 BC) gained control
of N. China
A. Polytheistic – believed in many
god(desses) and nature spirits
1. ancestor worship – offered sacrifices
to dead ancestors
2. Yin and Yang - believed that universe
was held in delicate balance by two
forces, the yin and yang. When these
forces were balanced, peace and
prosperity would result
B. 1st dynasty to
leave written
records –
characters not
3. Zhou Dynasty—about 1027 BC, the Zhou family
overthrew the Shang and claimed that the
gods had become angry with Shang cruelty and
had chosen the Zhou’s to rule.
A. This is called THE MANDATE OF HEAVEN:
1. Theory that it is justified to
overthrow a bad gov’t with the
approval of the gods.
2. Chinese later expanded Mandate of Heaven
to explain the rise and fall of families
– The Dynasty Cycle:
B. Other Contributions:
1. created iron tools
2. expanded trade – built roads and
3. astronomy – accurate calendar
4. silk – made from the cocoons of the
silkworm – became
valuable Chinese
4. Qin Dynasty: built The
Great Wall of China
A. Built to keep out
nomadic invaders
B. Recent surveys determined that it
stretches 5,500.3 miles