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Traditionally, the second of China's dynasties, following the Xia dynasty. Until excavations in the 20th century provided archaeological evidence for the Xia, the Shang was the first verifiable Chinese dynasty. Dates for its founding vary; traditionally its rule was said to have spanned 1766–1122 BC, but more recently the range has been given as c. 1600–1046 BC. Shang society was stratified: it included a king, local governors, nobles, and the masses, who engaged in agriculture. The Shang developed a 12-month, 360-day calendar with intercalary months added as necessary. The Chinese writing system began to develop; numerous records and ceremonial inscriptions survive. Surviving artifacts include musical instruments, superb bronze vessels, pottery for ceremonial and daily use, and jade and ivory ornaments. Cowrie shells were used as currency. See alsoErlitou culture; Zhou dynasty.
Variants of SHANG DYNASTY
Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Shang dynasty, visit Britannica.com.
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