- Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty (zh-cpw |c=夏朝 |p=xià cháo |w=hsia-ch'ao) of
Chinais the first dynasty to be described in ancient historical records such as " Records of the Grand Historian" and " Bamboo Annals". According to the traditional chronology based upon calculations by Liu Xin, the Xia ruled between 2205 BCE and 1766 BCE, however according to the chronology based upon the " Bamboo Annals", it is between 1989 BCE and 1558 BCE. The Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Projectresults in 2070 BCE and 1600 BCE. Though there is disagreement pertaining to the actual existence of the dynasty, archaeological evidence is said to point to its possible existence. According to historical records, it was preceded by the period of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperorsand followed by the Shang Dynasty.
According to the official history, the Xia Dynasty was founded when Shun abdicated the throne in favor of his minister Yu, whom Shun viewed as the perfect civil servant. Yu was greatly praised by his people for eliminating flooding by organizing the building of canals in all the major rivers. Soon before his death, instead of passing power to the person deemed most capable of rulership, Yu passed power to his son, Qi, setting the precedence for dynastic rule or the Hereditary System. The Xia Dynasty thus began a period of family or clan control.
The Skeptical School of early Chinese history, started by
Gu Jiegangin the 1920s, was the first group of scholars within China to seriously question the traditional story of its early history: “the later the time, the longer the legendary period of earlier history... early Chinese history is a tale told and retold for generations, during which new elements were added to the front end” [Building the Chronology of Early Chinese History. Journal article by Yun Kuen Lee; Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific, Vol. 41, 2002] Yun Kuen Lee's criticism of nationalist sentiment in developing an explanation of Three Dynasties chronology focuses on the dichotomy of evidence provided by archaeological versus historical research, in particular the claim that the archaeological Erlitou Culture is also the historical Xia Dynasty. “How to fuse the archaeological dates with historical dates is a challenge to all chronological studies of early civilization.” [Building the Chronology of Early Chinese History. Journal article by Yun Kuen Lee; Asian Perspectives: the Journal of Archaeology for Asia and the Pacific, Vol. 41, 2002]
Jie, the last ruler, was said to be a corrupt king. He was overthrown by Tang, the first king of the
After the defeat of Xia by Shang, some members of the royal family of Xia Dynasty survived as the
Qi (Henan)state until 445 BCE. The Qi state was well recorded in the Oracle scriptas the one major supporter of the Xia Dynasty. [http://books.google.com/books?id=JUeFAAAAIAAJ&q=%E6%9D%9E%E5%9B%BD&dq=%E6%9D%9E%E5%9B%BD&lr=&pgis=1 Guo li Taiwan shi fan da xue guo wen yan jiu suo ji kan By Guo li Taiwan shi fan da xue Guo wen yan jiu] The Kings of the state of Yue also claimed to be descended from Yu the Great. [ [http://www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/html/en/History1766bye3553.html The State of Yue] ]
Archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the possible existence of the Xia dynasty at locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. There exists a debate as to whether or not
Erlitou culturewas the site of the Xia dynasty. Radiocarbon datingplaces the site at ca. 2100 to 1800 BC, providing physical evidence of the existence of a state contemporaneous with and possibly equivalent to the Xia Dynasty as described in Chinese historical works. [Fairbank, John K. "China: A New History". Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992, page 35.] In 1959, a site located in the city of Yanshiwas excavated containing large palaces that some archaeologists have attributed as capital of the Xia Dynasty. Though later historical works mention the Xia dynasty, no written records dated to the Xia period have been found to confirm the name of the dynasty and its sovereigns. At a minimum, the archaeological discoveries marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithiccultures and the typical Chinese urban civilization of the Shang Dynasty.
Mythical opposite of Shang
In her work, "The Shape of the Turtle: Myth, Art and Cosmos in Early China", Sarah Allan noted that many aspects of the Xia are simply the opposite of traits held to be emblematic of the Shang. Classical Chinese historians such as
Sima Qianhad access to records going only as far back as the Western Zhou Dynasty. The implied dualism between the Shang and Xia, Allan argues, is that while the Shang represent fire or the sun, birds and the east, the Xia represent the west and water. The development of this mythical Xia, Allan argues, is a necessary act on the part of the Zhou Dynasty, who justify their conquest of the Shang by noting that the Shang had supplanted the Xia.
overeigns of the Xia Dynasty
List of Neolithic cultures of China
* Deady, Kathleen W. and Dubois, Muriel L., Ancient China. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press, 2004.
* Lee Yuan-Yuan and Shen, Sinyan. "Chinese Musical Instruments (Chinese Music Monograph Series)". 1999. Chinese Music Society of North America Press. ISBN 1-880464039
* Allan, Sarah (1991), "The Shape of the Turtle: Myth, Art and Cosmos in Early China (S U N Y Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture)".
State University of New York Press. ISBN 978-0791404591
* Allan, Sarah, "Erlitou and the Formation of Chinese Civilization: Toward a New Paradigm", The Journal of Asian Studies, 66:461-496 Cambridge University Press, 2007
* Liu, L. & Xiu, H., "Rethinking Erlitou: legend, history and Chinese archaeology", Antiquity, Volume: 81 Number: 314 Page: 886–901, 2007
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