ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Education and Science»
  • History & Archaeology»
  • History of Asia

China: the longest continuous civilization that has ever existed

Updated on August 31, 2010

In the second millennium BC, the cumulative effects of agriculture and a sudden burst of technological changes gave rise to some of the world’s early civilizations, principally Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley civilizations and China. Of these four, the one with the most longevity was China.

Around 5000 BC, a nomadic dynasty (the Shang) set up the basis for a kingdom which had the power to exert control over the smaller village communities and force them to offer tribute to the Shang.

The combination of the Shang military prowess and the extensive irrigation networks they’d built, set up the foundation for the longest lived continuous civilization that has ever existed. The Shang dynasty and it’s successors planted the seeds for a centralized political system and highly productive agrarian order that has supported approximately 20% of the human race on a consistent basis for most of recorded history.

Chinese civilizations was born of the unification of many village communities that had developed along the Huanghe (AKA the “Yellow River”.) The abundant supplies and rich, fertile soil in areas of the north China plain made it suitable for cultivation and settlement. Another advantage of the area was that it was shielded on the south and the west by mountains, which deterred nomadic tribes from invading via that route. Yet, it was open to trade and migration from the north, which were grass lands. The location was beneficial to the security and growth of the fledgling community.

By 4000 BC, communities supported by sedentary agriculture were spreading all across the region. These growing communities developed in widely spread out complex groups that laid the basis for the Shang dynasty and for Chinese civilization in general. Since the north was open to attack,the constant threat from hostile tribes of nomads forced the people of the China plain to develop defenses and military technologies needed to protect the farmers from invading hoards. They made weapons and engineered defensive walls. Military necessity became the mother of invention.

The locals started as hunters who started supplemented their food supply with limited farming. However, agriculture soon became their primary occupation. Farming made it possible for the people along the Huanghe region to support large and permanent settlements. They developed increasingly elaborate irrigation systems, which were vital to their agrarian base. The next logical step was the development of farming implements. These useful tools, along with the increase in irrigation, allowed these villages to attain higher and higher levels of productivity.

As time went on, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people migrated from the Huanghe to the Shandong peninsula and then to the Yangtze River basin. The Huanghe and the Yangtze River have been the heart and soul of Chinese civilization for thousands of years. Their resources have served the people well. Rivers have always been an important part of the development of society. Often, rivers can be a hazard, such as when flood waters rise, but the Chinese developed the engineering know-how to deal with this problem. They constructed dikes, so they could harness the benefits of the Rivers harmlessly. Again, their environmental need led to a major bit of advancement.

Writing became a key element for the Chinese in developing their identity and advancing their culture. The use of increasingly standardized and sophisticated written characters provided the major social bond that helped a growing number of Chinese people define themselves culturally. The pride they developed about themselves and their culture helped them through the rough times.

But writing had other uses, too. It became the key means of communication between the elite classes of different groups, aiding in negotiation and trade. Writing aided in advancing the knowledge of both science and religion. Further, it provided the basis for the systems of education and bureaucracy that would hold China together through trials and tribulations for the centuries to come.

The Chinese survived nomadic incursions and natural disasters (floods) to go on and profoundly influence the course of history. China devised an amazing share of the machines and pioneering principles that would become a basic part of human advancement. The endurance and longevity of China and its people allowed them time to develop a society that would disseminate its ideas and become an important influence on the world.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Turkic 6 years ago

      Chinese are with so many people! I think that is why they are still here

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 6 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Hi Athu; Glad you found it useful.

      Rob

    • profile image

      athu 6 years ago

      thanks 4 givin me such info about china. ur a gud writer!bravo. igot lots of info for my project. once again well written n bravo!

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 7 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Glad you liked it, Good Guy. It is remarkable that such an immense area manages to retain these long held, unifying customs. I guess that's part of the reason they've lasted longer than anyone else.

    • Good Guy profile image

      Justin Choo 7 years ago from Malaysia

      A good write-up. Being a Chinese born outside China, I always wonder how the Chinese were able to share a common written language while speaking different dialects, since anceint times, bearing in mind the distance from one end of China to the other end is thousands of kilometers!

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thank you, Polanox. It must be fascinating to live in a country with such an amazing history.

    • profile image

      Polanox 8 years ago

      Thank you for this short but concise piece. I am a foreigner living in China and I am constantly in awe of the Chinese sense of progress, their pride in their own, and yes, the march of their civilization. They have endured so much, yet they, among all, have this incredible will to surpass and move forward. Every nation on earth has much to learn from Chinese civilization. Just the fact that they have outlived all other ancient civilizations means that the Chinese do know something that the rest of us do not. Thanks again!

    • Robwrite profile image
      Author

      Rob 8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks for reading, HH.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      This was really interesting and I learned so much. Thank so much for writing and sharing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)