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Zhou Dynasty

Like the Shang before it, little is known with any great certainy abou the Zhou Dynasty (1100-221 BC). It is thought that they were nomadic tribe who came under the influence of the Shang and later displaced it. The Zhou capital was known as Hao and was near Chang'an (present-day Xi'an), the site that was to become the imperial seat of power of many subsequent Chinese Dynasties. The Zhou also established another power center close to present-day Luoyang in Henan, from where they governed the subjugated Shang. The Zhou social structure seems to have been heavily influenced by the Shang, from whom they inherited the practices of divination and ancestor worship.

Historians generally divide the Zhou period into the western Zhou (1110-771 BC) and the Eastern Zhou (770-221 BC). The demarcation point is the sacking of the traditional Zhou capital of Hao by barbarian tribes, the transfer of power to Luoyang and a loss of effective control by Zhou over its feudatory states. Nevertheless, Zhou nobles remained symbolic heads of state over a land of warring kingdoms until 221BC, when they were displaced by the Qin.

The Eastern Zhou, through riven by the strife, is thought of the crucible of Chinese culture. The traditional Chinese division of the period into the Spring and Autumn period (722-481 BC) and the Warring States period (453-221BC) doesn't follow any historical logic, but rather refers to the periods covered by two historical books of the same names, written during the period, which were to become cornerstones of the classical educations system until the Qing collapsed in 1911.

The Spring & Autumn Annals is traditionally ascribed to Confucius (551-479BC), a scholar who wandered from state to state during these troubled times in search of a ruler who would put his ideas for the perfect state into practice.

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