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Chapter 3

Asia's First Civilizations: India and China

Chapter Summary. East and South Asia developed civilizations near great river systems. Chinese civilization emerged along the Huanghe River and the ancestor to Indian civilizations, Harappa, flourished in the Indus river valley. Nomadic Aryan invaders moved into the region of the latter between 1500 and 1000 B.C.E. and established the basis for a new pattern of civilization in South Asia. In North China the formation of the Shang kingdom, from around 1500 to 1122 B.C.E., and the succeeding Zhou dynasty, marked the origins of the distinctive and enduring Chinese civilization. The Indus River Valley and the Birth of South Asian Civilization. Harappan civilization, a huge complex of cities and villages, developed rapidly during the 3rd millennium B.C.E. within the Indus river system. The two principal cities were Harappa, in the north, and Mohenjo-Daro, in the south. The rivers were fed by the melting snows of the Himalayas and monsoon rains and deposited rich soil in the valley plains. Early settlers profited from the region's rich environment. They domesticated animals, practiced sophisticated agricultural techniques; they made pottery, mirrors and bronze tools and weapons. The Discovery and Mystery of Harappa. During the late 1850s C.E. British and Indian railway builders discovered the lost Harappan civilization. Anchored on the two great cities of Harappa and MohenjoDaro., it had developed rapidly, and independently of Mesopotamian patterns, in the mid-3d millennium B.C.E. The total area of the civilization was much larger than Sumer or Old Kingdom Egypt. The Great Cities of the Indus Valley. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were densely populated, walled cities similar in layout and construction. They were built on a square grid pattern divided by main streets into smaller, precise, grids. Buildings and walls were made of standardized kiln-dried bricks. The massive scale required an autocratic government able to manage large numbers of workers. Each city possessed fortified citadels which served as defensive sanctuaries, community centers, assembly halls or places of worship, and public bathing tanks. Large granaries located nearby stored grain; the state may have regulated its production and sale. Smaller uniformly constructed residences made of brick were arranged along twisted lanes. They lacked exterior decoration and ornamentation and contained a courtyard surrounded by rooms for sleeping, cooking, and receiving visitors. Bathing areas and drains emptied into a citywide sewage system, one of the best in the ancient world. Harappan Culture and Society. An advanced agricultural system based upon wheat, rye, peas, and possibly rice supported Harappa's peoples. Irrigation systems controlled the rivers' flow. Cotton was cultivated and domestic animals were reared. The cities were major trading centers; there is evidence for trade with Mesopotamia, China, and Burma. The Harappans remained conservative and resistant to external influences, including weapons' development. A powerful priestly class, drawing authority from their role as intermediary between the populace and gods, dominated society. Provision of fertility was a paramount concern. The most prominent deity depicted was a fierce-faced naked male with a horned head. The concern with fertility was demonstrated by numerous naked female figures - devis or mothergoddesses, sacred animals - especially bulls), and phallic-shaped objects. The figures, along with carvings depicting members of society, represent the pinnacle of Harappan artistic expression. The rigid order of the society required an extensive administrative class serving the priests. They, along with merchants, occupied the larger residences of the city. The Slow Downfall of Harappan Civilization. The precise causes of Harappan decline during the mid2nd millennium B.C.E. remain disputed. Many factors contributed to its demise. Mohenjo-Daro and other locations suffered from severe flooding. Shifts in climatic patterns eventually transformed the fertile region into an arid steppe. The priestly class lost power. Migrants, some of them Aryan pastoralists, over a long period of time destroyed the irrigation system.

Aryan Incursions and Early Aryan Society in India. New peoples, including the Aryans, moved into the Indus valley. Their descendants eventually created a sophisticated civilization that included the great world religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. The Aryans, speakers of lndo-European languages, were herders coming from the region between the Black and Caspian seas. During the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C.E. they migrated into Asia Minor, Europe, Iran, and the Indus and Ganges river systems. Aryan Warrior Culture. The Aryans were a warrior people not reaching the level of civilization attained by Harappa. Realizing the potential of the Ganges valley, the Aryans settled and became agriculturists. Villages were built of wood and thatch. There was little interest in sculpture or painting, but the Aryans did excel in music and dancing. Gambling was a very popular pastime. The Aryans did not develop writing until much later, but they possessed a rich oral lore. The Vedas, religious hymns, depicted Aryans as a restless and warlike people. They were superb horsemen, employed chariots, and had more effective weapons than the Harappans. The chief deity was Indra, god of battle and lightning. Aryan Society. When they arrived the Aryans were divided into three main social groups: warriors, priests, commoners. The conquered indigenous inhabitants added a fourth group, slaves or serfs (dasas). There was rigid social differentiation between Aryans and dasas. The effort to prevent mixture gave rise to the caste system, the lasting basis of Indian social organization. Four broad social castes (varnas), emerged: priests (brahmans), warriors, merchants, and peasants. Beneath them were the descendants of non-Aryan conquered peoples. Males dominated Aryan society as rulers, warriors, and priests. Descent and inheritance were patrilineal. Brides, bringing sizable dowries with them, joined the family of their husbands. Monogamous marriages were the norm. Aryan Religion. The polytheistic Aryans worshipped many deities possessing the power to assist believers in their daily lives. Male gods dominated. Major priestly functions in Aryan religious worship centered on animal sacrifice and ritual food offerings. Religious thought was not introspective, and the later Indian concepts of reincarnation and the transmigration of souls were absent. Harappa's Fall and Aryan Dominance. After 1500 B.C.E. civilization disappeared as Aryan pastoralists conquered the indigenous agricultural population. Tribal egalitarian organization replaced the earlier more complex political and social organization. Civilization reemerged when the invaders turned to agriculture in the Himalayan foothills and Ganges valley and formed small kingdoms. The interaction between the invaders and indigenous peoples established the basis for India's great classical civilization. A Bend in the River and the Beginnings of China. Chinese civilization took form during the mid-2nd millennium B.C.E. along the Huanghe River. The Shang dynasty, founded by nomadic warrior peoples, expanded and improved earlier irrigation systems and developed the Chinese system of writing. The north China plain had been occupied by humanlike creatures and humans from a very early date. It is the home of Peking Man, one of the earliest hominids. During Neolithic times the Ordos bulge of the Huanghe received migrants who worked its rich loess soil and utilized the abundant river water resources. By 4000 B.C.E. the many sedentary communities formed two cultural complexes that laid the basis for the Shang. In the Yangshao culture (2500-2000 B.C.E.) supplementary shifting cultivation aided a predominantly hunting and fishing society. The later Longshan culture (2000-1500 B.C.E.) relied upon millet cultivation and was able to support large, permanent villages. Irrigation systems were vital to the growth of this agricultural society. The seasonal flow of the Huanghe, and the large amounts of silt in the water, requires the building and upkeep of great earthen dikes. The first rulers, like the mythical hero Yu, ruler of Xia, were associated with successful flood control. The Warrior Kings of the Shang Era. Around 1500 B.C.E. many small kingdoms, ruled by nomadic tribal groups coming from the north and west, emerged near the Ordos bulge. Semi-legendary accounts of earlier states, like Xia founded by Yu, lack archaeological verification. A distinctive Chinese culture emerged. Key features were cooking vessels and cuisine, use of cracked animal bones for divination, domestication of the silk worm, use of silk fabrics, and ancestor worship. One tribe, the Shang, became dominant and established the foundations of Chinese civilization. They were warlike nomads, ruled by strong kings, with advanced military techniques. The ruler was regarded as the intermediary between the supreme being and mortals; he held responsibility for the fertility of the state.

Shang Society. The Shang had a numerous bureaucracy in Anyang, the capital city, but most subjects were governed by vassal retainers recruited from the former ruling groups. The vassals depended upon the produce and labor of commoners to support their power and to provide tribute and soldiers for the king. Peasants worked land in cooperative teams and grew millet, wheat, beans, and rice. They lived in sunken homes of stamped earth. Some skilled artisans were prosperous and lived in large homes. The lowest societal group was the large slave population. Many artisans were slaves, but some skilled individuals were free and prosperous. The Shang ruling elite lived within walled towns in large compounds holding extended families. Elder males held absolute authority in their households. Marriage tradition was patrilocal. The majority of the population followed a different pattern. Commoner families lived in nuclear households, which probably were male dominated and patrilocal. Shang Culture. Shang elites were preoccupied with rituals, oracles, and sacrifices. They joined the ruler in propitiating spirits to provide crops and offspring. Artistic expression peaked in bronze vessels used for offerings of grain, incense, wine, and animals. Human sacrifice occurred during ritual warfare and when war captives and servants were buried with the king and important officials. Shamans performed oracular functions for harvests, wars, journeys, and marriages. Readings were taken from animal bones and tortoise shells. They were drilled and seared, and the resulting cracks were interpreted. Patterns inscribed on the bones and shells formed the basis for a written language that provided the diverse peoples of the loess zone with a common culture. The initially pictographic characters evolved to convey complex ideas. By the end of the Shang period there were 3000 characters. The bones and bronze vessels on which the characters were first carved gave way to bamboo, silk, and wooden surfaces. In the 1st century C.E. they were replaced by the Chinese invention of paper. Writing and Chinese Identity. Writing became fundamental to Chinese identity and the growth of civilization. The written language made communication possible between the elite of the many different groups of the region and provided a foundation for the basic elements of the developing Chinese civilization. The Decline of the Shang and the Era of Zhou Dominance. The Zhou, a Turkic-speaking nomadic people from central Asia, became vassals of the Shang. By the end of the 12th century B.C.E. they seized power and established a dynasty enduring until the 3rd millennium B.C.E. The first ruler, Wu, greatly expanded the state's borders to the east and south. The new rulers had a more centralized government than the Shang. Their most powerful vassals were relatives or loyal allies who controlled other relatives under them in the hierarchy. A distinct class of scholar-administrators, the shi - men of service - took form. Vassal states were annexed and the Zhou rulers claimed ownership of all land. Vassals received land for their support; suspect people had to migrate to areas dominated by loyal subordinates. Zhou Feudalism. Formal oaths of allegiance and regularized fief-granting procedures transformed the Shang vassal system into a more genuine feudal order. Zhou rulers granted fiefs in return for loyalty and military service. The system worked under strong rulers, but weakness at the royal center facilitated rebellion. Changes in the Social Order. The continuance of the feudal system was undermined by two developments. The 1st was the elaboration of the concept of the Mandate of Heaven. King Wu, when the Shang were conquered, claimed that they had lost the Mandate of Heaven to him. The appeal to a supernatural source of authority enhanced the capacity of rulers to become absolutist, authoritarian, kings. But, if rulers failed to govern effectively, they might lose the mandate, making it legitimate for subjects to rebel and replace the dynasty. The 2nd development weakening feudalism was the emergence of a professional bureaucracy that provided an alternative to the use of military vassals. They were educated men, known as shi, who kept records, ran departments, and organized rituals. They were supported by land grants or regular salaries. By the middle of the 8th century B.C.E. some of the shi gained considerable influence with rulers and powerful vassals. They were the forerunners of China's later important scholarly governing class.

New Patterns of Life. During the early dynasty the Zhou conquerors lived separately from the subjugated indigenous people. The rulers' palace in the twin capitals of Xian and Loyang was the locale for annual critical sacrifices for fertility. Zhou vassals lived away from the capitals in walled garrison towns laid out on a grid pattern. Servants, artisans, and slaves lived in or near the garrisons. The great majority of the population, peasants, producing millet, wheat, and rice, lived and worked in villages. Iron farm implements and extended irrigation systems increased productivity, but most of the surplus went to the ruling elite. The peasants' many obligations also included forced labor on roads and irrigation projects, and military service. Peasants living away from their lord's direct influence escaped many such burdens and were in effect free cultivators. Migrations and the Expansion of the Chinese Core. Improved agricultural technology stimulated population growth in Zhou lands and caused extension of cultivation to the south and east. Migrants moved down the Huanghe valley and beyond, eventually into the Huai and Yangtze river basins, and replaced non-Chinese inhabitants who were hunters and gatherers and shifting cultivators. By the close of the Zhou era the region that became the heart of Chinese civilization was permanently occupied. Cultural Change in the Early Zhou Period. The Zhou strengthened male dominance within Chinese society. Males probably secured increased authority by their control of the ceremonies of ancestor veneration which became the central foci of religious observance. Human sacrifice ended and philosophical speculation remained a distant 2nd to elaborate rites and ceremonies designed to win divine blessing. Emphasis on correct ritual performance led to concern among the elite for refined manners and proper decorum. The End of the Early or Western Zhou. The Zhou were in decline by the 8th century B.C.E. Vassals defeated and killed the ruler in 771 B.C.E. The state broke apart, and Xian was abandoned. A less powerful Zhou dynasty for another five centuries ruled from Loyang over a continually shrinking domain. Several competing kingdoms emerged during the long period of chaos and societal suffering. The chaos and suffering prompted a reaction among the shi that altered the course of Chinese civilization. In Depth: The Legacy of Asia's First Civilizations. The region where the Shang and Zhou polities emerged became the center of a civilization continuing until today.. The system of writing became a major factor in the evolution of Chinese civilization. The continuity of Chinese identity strongly influenced the civilizations of Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Chinese technological innovation was comparable, on a global scale, to that of Mesopotamia. The Indus valley civilization, Happy, collapsed , and, although much was lost, influences persisted as the core of Indian civilizations passed to the east and south. Conclusion: Beginnings and Transitions. The arrival of the Aryans in India and the decline of the Zhou in China were key transition phases in the development of each civilization. Harappan civilization disappeared, but the Zhou represented a continuation of Chinese civilization. The Chinese were the most adept of all early civilizations in absorbing and assimilating invaders while keeping their own identity. KEY TERMS Indus river valley: river flows from sources in the Himalayas to the Arabian Sea; location of Harappan civilization. monsoons: seasonal winds crossing the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia; during the summer they bring rain. Harappan civilization: first civilization of the Indian subcontinent; emerged in Indus river valley ca. 2500 B.C.E. Harass and-Dar: major urban complexes of Harappan civilization; laid out on planned grid pattern. Aryans: Indo-European nomadic, warlike, pastoralists who replaced Harappan civilization.

Vedas: Aryan hymns originally transmitted orally; written down in sacred books from the 6th century B.C.E. India: chief deity of the Aryans; depicted as a hard-drinking warrior. daises: Aryan name for indigenous people of the Indus river valley region; regarded as societally inferior to Aryans. caste system: rigid system of social classification introduced by Aryans. varnas: clusters of caste groups; four social castes: brahmans (priests), warriors, merchants, peasants; beneath them were the untouchables. polygamy: marriage practice in which one husband had several wives; present in Aryan society. polyandry: marriage practice in which one woman had several husbands; recounted in Aryan epics. patrilineal: social system in which descent and inheritance is passed through the male line; typical of Aryan society. Huanghe river: river flowing from the Tibetan plateau to the China Sea; its valley was site of early Chinese sedentary agricultural communities. Ordos bulge: located on Huanghe river; region of fertile soil; site of Yangshao and Longshan cultures. loess: fine-grained soil deposited in Ordos bulge; created fertile lands for sedentary agricultural communities. Yangshao culture: a formative Chinese culture located at Ordos bulge ca. 2500 to 2000 B.C.E.; primarily an intensive hunting and gathering society supplemented by shifting cultivation. Longshan culture: a formative Chinese culture located at Ordos bulge ca. 2000 to 1500 B.C.E; based primarily on cultivation of millet. Yu: a possibly mythical ruler revered for construction of a system of flood control along the Huanghe river valley; founder of Xia kingdom. Xia: China's first, possibly mythical, kingdom; ruled by Yu; no archaeological sites yet discovered. Shang: 1st Chinese dynasty; capital in Ordos bulge. vassal retainers: members of former ruling families granted control over peasant and artisan populations of areas throughout Shang kingdom; indirectly exploited wealth of their territories. extended families: consisted of several generations, including sons and grandsons of family patriarch and their families; typical of Shang China elites. nuclear households: husband, wife, and their children, and perhaps a few other relatives; typical of Chinese peasantry. oracles: shamans or priests in Chinese society who foretold the future through interpreting animal bones cracked by heat; inscriptions on bones led to Chinese writing. ideographic writing: pictograph characters grouped together to create new concepts; typical of Chinese writing.

Zhou: originally a vassal family of the Shang; possibly Turkic in origin; overthrew Shang and established 2nd Chinese dynasty. Xian and Loyang: capitals of the Zhou dynasty. feudalism: social organization created by exchanging grants of land (fiefs) in return for formal oaths of allegiance and promises of loyal service; typical of Zhou dynasty. Mandate of Heaven: the divine source of political legitimacy in China; established under Zhou to justify overthrow of Shang. shi: probably originally priests; transformed into corps of professional bureaucrats because of knowledge of writing during Zhou dynasty. LECTURE SUGGESTIONS 1. Compare and contrast Harappan and Chinese civilization. 1st consider their agricultural systems, religious practices, and political organization. Both agricultural systems were based on irrigation; the Harappans grew wheat, rye, peas, and rice; the Chinese produced millet and silk. In religion the Harappans emphasized fertility rituals; they had a pantheon of gods, the most significant of which may have been a nude male deity with horns; there might have been ritual bathing. The early Chinese also were concerned with fertility and practiced human sacrifice; divination was practiced on animal bones. In political organization Harappan society was closely supervised from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro; a priestly elite probably ruled. The Chinese were governed through feudalism: decentralized under the Shang, centralized under the Zhou. 2. Discuss the responses of Harappan and Chinese civilizations to contacts with outsiders and external migration. Harappan civilization was conservative, but it did have commercial contacts with foreigners; it was unable to withstand the migration of the Aryans. The Chinese were able to handle migration by absorbing invaders. The Zhou might replace the Shang, but the fundamental nature of Chinese civilization remained. CLASS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. In what ways was Harappan civilization like Mesopotamian civilization? 2. What is the evidence for an autocratic form of government in Harappan society? 3. What were the causes for the decline of Harappan society? 4. What impact did the Aryan migration have on the level of Harappan civilization? 5. How was Aryan society organized? 6. What was the nature of the formative Chinese agricultural system? 7. What was the nature of the political organization of Shang China7 8. What was the social organization of Shang China? 9. What was the relationship between Shang religion and the development of writing? 10. What do we know about the status of women in each civilization? THE INSTRUCTOR'S TOOL KIT

Map References Danzer, Discovering World History through Maps and Views Source Maps: S4, S5. Reference Maps: R17, R28, R30. Audio Cassettes Bhagavad-Gita, the Song of God. Caedmon Documents "Key Chinese Values: Confucianism" "Legalism: An Alternative System" "Chinese Politics in Practice: A Historian's View" "Women in Classical China: Pan Chao" "The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism" "State and Society in Classical India" "Caste and Moral Duty in Classical India" "Gender Relations in Classical India: Two Hindu Tales" In Stearns, Documents in Word History (New York: HarperCollins, 1988) Video/Film The Silk Road. 6 video tapes. Filmic Archives