Charles Ian M.

Señedo Thought Paper: “The Lost City of Shang”

2013 - 24266

The documentary featured “The Lost City of Shang”. The Shang Dynasty was the first of Chinese dynasty, which is proven by certain archeological evidence like inscriptions on oracle bones. According to the documentary, the Shang Dynasty existed from 1600 B.C. to 1100 B.C. There were seven identified capitals of the dynasty, namely Loyang, Chenchow, Yin, Sichuan, Guanghan, Chengdu, and Anyang. Anyang, the last Shang capital, had a fully developed way of writing, inscribed and conserved on bronze inscriptions and a small number of other writings on pottery, jade and other stones, but most prolifically on oracle bones. The history of oracle bones originated from their goal to provide answers for their sickly official. The shamans, the religious officials of the Shang, used ox bones and turtle shells and subjected them to intense heat. The cracks that resulted from the process were then interpreted. This procedure was then used for queries to gods about crop planting, future weather, fortunes of royalties, military practices, and religious practices and more. The cracks then progressed to the present Chinese characters. Shang religion comprised of a mixture of shamanism, divination and sacrifice. They had main recipients of sacrifice: Shang Ti (principal god), entities of nature like the sun and mountains, former lords and deceased humans. The Shang rulers contributed to the belief that these ancestors had authority over them and done ceremonials to learn their intentions. As explained earlier, the shamans used oracle bones for queries to the gods, and interpreted the cracks. Also, the Shang believed in the idea of an afterlife. High-ranking officials were buried with their properties, including carriages, jars, weapons, and human workers. The Shang devoted much of their efforts in bronze culture. Instead of gold and other precious metals, they considered bronze as very special and important. They crafted bronze into pottery, weapons, and more. This production required a large labor force that could handle the mining, refining, and transportation of the ores. The Shang royal court required a huge amount of different bronze vessels for religious and ceremonial purposes. The historians, people from various parts of the world, involved conducted research by searching of sites for excavations. They used known and acknowledged ancient Chinese scriptures, aerial maps, improvised radar devices, and excavation works in order to prove the existence of the Shang. In addition, they dug long tubes in the ground to unearth layers of soil. The layers of soil were then used to predict what lies underground, like the buried Shang City in Zhengzhou, and to predict from what era the soil originated from. As a whole film, it is good documentary. It is very informative, visual, creative, and not very lengthy to avoid dullness. I recommend the documentary. It is very good to watch, especially to those who would want to discover ancient China.

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