The Zhou Dynasty existed approximately from the
11th century BC to 221BC, lasting more than 800 years, with 34 kings.
In the 11th century BC, King Wu of the Zhou vanquished the Shang
Dynasty and established the Zhou Dynasty, founding the capital in Hao (southwest
of Xi'an City in Shaanxi Province). In 256BC, the Zhou was conquered by the
|Water Ding (19cm high and 16cm
The Zhou was originally a dependent state to
the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century BC). According to legend the
ancestor of the Zhou tribe was Di Ku. The Zhou grew strong and extended its
power during the reign of King Wen and King Wu. King Wu launched an attack on
Muye, overthrew the Shang Dynasty and established the Zhou Dynasty, which is
known as the Western Zhou in Chinese history.
Agriculture, economy, religion, education
and art continued to prosper in the Zhou, especially the rites, which not only
inherited that of the Shang but also had their own innovations. In the early
Zhou, the ruler prohibited people from excessive drinking to put an end to the
popularly extravagant practices of the late Shang. Bronze metallurgy continued
to develop, but drinking vessels commonly seen in the Shang gradually vanished.
The oracle-bone divination method was still popular in the Zhou. Unearthed
oracle bones, which date back as far as King Wen, are similar to those of the
Shang in shape and material.
Towards the end of the Western Zhou, the
intensification of internal contradictions within the ruling class grew sharper
and land and power was seized. Uprisings in the kingdom shook the ruling class
to its very foundations. In 771BC, King You was killed by the Quan Rong tribe,
sounding the fall of the Western Zhou Dynasty.