Introduction: The Story of China With Michael Wood: Part 1 (01:45)
China is known for communism, size, and power. It is the oldest continuous state on Earth; its history is dramatic and continuous.
Honoring Ancestors (06:27)
Chinese families annually reunite for the Qingming festival; the Ching family gathers around the ancient grave of poet Qin Guan. In the 1960s, the traditions were banned by Chairman Mao.
Yellow River Civilization (06:47)
In rural Zhoukou, farmers celebrate Nuwa, the creator of humanity. All great ancient civilizations began on rivers, their control equated to political power. The tale of The King Who First Channeled The River relates to a great flood of 1900 BCE. King Yu's legend claims he founded China's first dynasty, the Xia.
Once Mythical Nation (03:06)
The most ancient sites in the world are found at Erlitou; see excavation of the first royal city. The pottery and bronze work recovered reveal the beginnings of a Chinese state at the time of the 1900 BCE Great Flood.
Shang Dynasty (05:45)
The Shang were China's first historical rulers. Their script was discovered on animal bones, and traced back to Anyang, where evidence of human sacrifice and divinity was found. The writing is the direct ancestor of modern Chinese.
Shangqiu, China (05:10)
A geophysical survey reveals the ruins of the Shang Dynasty 30 feet under the city; transcribed bones from Anyang aided the discovery. The Mound of Shang temple was also an observatory. Evidence of divination, astrology, and human sacrifice was found on site.
Mandate of Heaven (04:59)
King Di Xin was a cruel dictator; his people observed a five planet conjunction, taking it as a divine sign to overthrow him. Tribes united under King Wen, waging war and ending the Shang dynasty. Zhou leadership was spiritually and ethically minded, and would be seen as model rulers; Daoists practice some of the same traditions today.
Political Instability and Morality (10:50)
After Zhou lost power, warlords fought for supremacy; war and violence spurred the golden age of Chinese philosophy. Confucius' mission was to restore civilization by teaching rulers to be virtuous; "The Analects" became China's moral guide. Confucian scholars perform a ritual condemned during the Communist Revolution.
Qin Dynasty (04:30)
In 221 BC Qin Shi H, rose to power; see his excavated tomb with thousands of terra cotta warriors. The Emperor created the Great Wall, infrastructure linking provinces, and standardized writing and weights. He killed 400 Confucian scholars; his cruelty led to rebellion.
Han Dynasty (03:22)
Liu Bang led rebels against Qin, founding the Han dynasty. Sima Qian, dedicated to writing Chinese history, was publicly castrated for sympathizing with empire critics. Modern citizens identify as Han; see a Nuwa ceremony.
Credits: The Story of China with Michael Wood: Part 1 (00:29)
Credits: The Story of China with Michael Wood: Part 1
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