added by archaeologs Bronze Age ethnic group which overthrew the Shang c 1027 BC and established the longest dynasty in Chinese history, surviving until c 221 BC. The Zhou period is subdivided into Western or Royal Zhou, 1027-771 BC, when the capital was in Shaanxi province, and Eastern Zhou, with the capital at Louyang, 770-221 BC. It is further divided into the Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) and Warring States (475-221 BC) periods. These names come from two historical texts, the "Spring and Autumn Annals of the State of Lu" and the "Discourses of the Warring States". Originating from Qishan as a pastoral people the Zhou rose to power in the Wei River valley of Shaanxi province adopting much of the culture of the Shang they eventually overthrew. From their Shaanxi homeland the Western Zhou kings ruled through vassal lords an empire that included most of the former Shang territories and stretched to the northeast beyond Beijing. The period is characterized by small competing states organized into feudal subservience to the Royal Zhou during the early period; stronger states evolved in the later period and the feudal system broke down. The state of Qin eventually conquered its rivals and united the states in 220 BC. During the Zhou period the Great Wall was constructed and iron-working and coinage developed. The Warring States period saw a flowering of the arts in many areas.
added by archaeologs [Chou]. The longest dynasty in Chinese history, founded in the 12th or 11th century bc (see Shang) and surviving until 256 bc. The Zhou period is subdivided into Western Zhou, when the capital was in Shaanxi province, and Eastern Zhou, which began in 770 bc with the transfer of the capital eastward to Luoyang (see Zhou capitals). In archaeological writings Eastern Zhou is usually taken for convenience to include the years between the final extinction of the Zhou royal house in 256 bc and the founding of the Qin dynasty in 221 bc. Eastern Zhou is then subdivided into the Spring and Autumn (Chunqiu) period, 770476 bc, and the Warring States (Zhanguo) period, 475-221 BC. These names come from two historical texts, the Spring and Autumn Annals of the State ofLuand the Discourses of the Warring States (since the former book chronicles only the years 722-481 historians occasionally understand the Spring and Autumn period to refer to this shorter time). Originally a pastoral people, the Zhou rose to power in the Wei River valley of Shaanxi province, in the process adopting much of the culture of the Shang city-dwellers they eventually overthrew. From their Shaanxi homeland the Western Zhou kings ruled, through vassal lords, an empire that included most of the former Shang territories and stretched to the north-east beyond Beuing (see Yan). Western Zhou sites are scattered throughout this area and are known also in Sichuan (see Peng Xian), northern Hubei (see Jiangling), Anhui (see Tunxi), and Jiangsu (see Dantu), but are most heavily concentrated in and near the Wei River valley (see Baoji, Fufeng, Qishan, Zhangjiapo, Lingtai). Measured against the wealth and splendour of the earlier Anyang civilization or of the later Warring States period, the material remains of later Western Zhou and the first century or so of Eastern Zhou speak of growing isolation and impoverishment; the inscriptions on Western Zhou ritual vessels are much concerned with the feudal transactions on which the Zhou king’s dwindling power depended. The forced shift of the capital to Luoyang in 771 bc coincided with the dissolution of the Western Zhou empire into a large number of states over which the Eastern Zhou king ruled only in name. The Eastern Zhou period is notable for the appearance of iron; for an upsurge in the foreign contacts that were eventually institutionalized in the Silk Route (or warded off by the Great Wall); and for the rise of brilliant courts in the various states, the most distinctive cultural tradition being that of Chu.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983
added by archaeologs For several generations before their overthrow of the Shang dynasty, the Zhou were settled in the Wei River valley of Shaanxi province, China. They are reported in later histories to have shifted their pre-dynastic capital several times, on one occasion to a place that the texts call Zhouyuan, ‘the Plain of Zhou’ (from which the dynasty may take its name). Zhouyuan was somewhere near modem Qishan; extensive Zhou remains in this neighbourhood include palace foundations at Qishan Fengchucun shown to antedate the fall of the Shang dynasty by inscribed oracle bones unearthed at the site. Shortly before the conquest the Zhou court moved from Zhouyuan to Feng and then to Hao, twin cities supposed to have been located on opposite banks of the Feng River west of modem Xi’an (see Chang’an, Zhangjiapo). A few years after the conquest a secondary capital was founded at Luo yang in the former Shang territories; this new city was called Cheng Zhou, ‘Victorious Zhou’. Throughout the Western Zhou period, however, the chief royal cities remained two in the old Zhou homeland, the Hao capital and a city called Zong Zhou, ‘Ancestral Zhou’. This latter name apparently refers to the Qishan area, that is a centre at or near Zhouyuan, and this region is extraordinarily rich in Western Zhou finds (see Qishan, Fufeng). At the loss of the Wei Valley homeland to invading barbarians in 771 BC, which marks the end of Western Zhou, the Zhou court moved east to Luoyang, where it remained until the end of the dynasty in 256 bc.