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Foundations of Chinese Civilization
Shanxi is a major region for Chinese civilization and the origins of the state, with the Taosi site manifesting the earliest kingly authority and state format, corresponding perfectly with the legendary Tangyao period. The Shanxi of the Xia-Shang-Zhou period possessed those most critical copper resource and copper-smelting technologies, which had an indispensable supportive effect on the development and thriving of a bronze culture. Beginning as a “small state of a hundred li” enfeoffed in the early Western Zhou, the Jin put all energy into state administration, into opening borders and pioneering lands, into carrying down traditions, sharply innovating, and absorbing new blood from the surrounding states and nomadic cultures, slowly forming a Jin culture with its own clear characteristics. Central Plains culture, as represented by Jin culture, had a profound and far-reaching effect on the formation of the Chinese culture of later generations.
Unit1 Herald of Bronze Age
Taosi culture was representative of the formative period of China’s bronze civilization. At the late Longshan period, many regional states existed in the China proper. Situated at the interaction zone between the Central Plains culture and the northern nomadic culture, Taosi culture fused various currents and makes dramatic forward strides, not only in the force of production, but also in social stratification. Fortified city, mass public construction, elite burial, writing, ritual arts, and science and technology emerged and matured. Taosi stood out from the community of regional states and headed towards the civilization of a kingly state. Here was the earliest “Middle Kingdom” (China), and where the herald of Bronze Age.
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Unit2 In and Out of Shang
The geographical structure of the Shang political territory was formed of three layers – the kingly capital, the four corners (sifang) and the four directions (sizhi). The kingly capital consisted of Shang lands with the Shang capital along the central axis; the four corners were situated beyond the kingly capital and were a combined structure formed of areas managed by Shang court nobles and officials directly or by regional states under the Shang hegemony, an open and unstable region; the four directions lay beyond these states and consisted of areas influenced by the force of the Shang court and Shang culture. In the distribution and differing cultural characteristics of Shang bronzes in Shanxi, we can see the historical shifts in this tri-level political territory.
Unit3 The Grand Jin State
In the 11th century B.C., with the revolution that saw the overthrow of the Shang and establishment of the Zhou, the newly established Western Zhou implemented policies that distinguished them from the previous dynasty. The policy of “meting out fiefs and establishing states” put in place 71 feudal states in gradual succession, arriving at 53 states with the royal surname of Ji, one such state being the State of Jin.

When it was founded, the state of Jin was surrounded by many feudal states and barbarian groups. Jin increasingly annexed these surrounding states from the time of Lords Wu and Xian onward (716 – 651 B.C.), to become a large state. During the region of Lord Wen, many feudal states gathered to celebrate the hegemony of the Jin state. “All the crucial and fortified places were owned by the Jin”.