The Legacy of the Zhou was one of transformation. During the eight centuries of the Zhou dynasty, China was transformed from a feudal state to one with a well-organized central government. As the structure of the state evolved, a new Chinese civilization developed. … Continue reading
Economy during the Zhou
The Economy during the Zhou was mostly a commodity one. Chinese agriculture had originally developed from the cultivation of millet in the north and rice in the south. Wheat, oats, barley, and lentils were also cultivated, but were less important. In the Eastern Zhou period, farming techniques were gradually improved. Irrigation, the use of organic fertilizers, and carefully planned field management increased productivity. Arable land was reclaimed from swamps, lakes, foothills, and woodlands to increase agricultural production. These developments were crucial for survival in many states that were expanding and facing difficult interstate struggles.
Contact between the states, both in war and in peace, increased. Networks of roads were built to facilitate the movement of troops, as well as for interstate commerce. Archaeological findings indicate that metal coins were circulated far beyond the regions in which they were minted, which was a testament to the well-developed transportation network of the period. Administrative and military centers gradually grew into cities with tens of thousands of residents. In the late Warring States period, several major cities, such as Chang’an and Luoyang, had hundreds of thousands of people.
The metallurgical industry progressed in the development of bronze-casting techniques. In particular, the lost-wax method reached a high level of sophistication. The practice of casting weapons and farm implements out of iron had begun during the Spring and Autumn period, at the same time that the development of irrigation works had also become widespread. Together, these advances allowed the Zhou people to vastly increase their agricultural production, which in turn stimulated economic growth. In the Eastern Zhou period, copper and iron mining became important industries. Specialization of various trades and production techniques reached such a level that active commercialization was possible, which helped create a strong urban economy. The Economy during the Zhou dynasty grew strongly as certain areas of production was integrated in to the economy.
Zhou Dynasty which began between 1045?-256 bc, also known as Chou was a Chinese dynasty that paved the way for the first unification of China in 221 bc. Although the Zhou dynasty was founded in about 1027 BC, the Zhou conquest of the Shang dynasty in about 1045 BC established the Zhou as the supreme political power in China. Most historians date the beginning of the Zhou dynasty to this event, and Zhou historical records show that the Zhou themselves considered this victory to be the beginning of their dynastic reign.
The Zhou dynasty is subdivided into two periods: the Western and Eastern Zhou. The Western Zhou controlled China’s Central Plain area, consisting mainly of the middle and lower reaches of the Huang He (Yellow River) drainage. The authority of the Western Zhou court ended in 771 bc, but the Eastern Zhou court nominally reigned until 256 bc. During this period, the area of China expanded to include the drainage of the Yangtze River in the south as well as the farmland along the future site of the Great Wall in the north.
During the Zhou dynasty, China evolved from a feudal state with power divided among vassals to one with a strong centralized government. Paralleling this change visible during the Zhou dynasty, a more homogeneous Chinese civilization developed as contact between regions increased and Confucianism spread throughout China.