I. Prehistoric Times > M. Later Old World Prehistory (3000 B.C.E. and Afterward) > 6. Asia > b. China
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
b. China
 
By 3000 B.C.E., agriculture had taken such a hold in China that population densities rose rapidly, as most available land was taken under cultivation. At the same time, rice agriculture expanded in lowland areas where irrigation was easy. Those villages fortunate enough to possess irrigable lands soon turned into larger, much more permanent settlements, often protected with earthen walls to guard against floods and marauding neighbors. Even these larger communities were part of a self-regulating folk society in which kinship loyalties and the extended family were all important and age was deeply revered. The family ancestors were the conduit to the gods who controlled the harmony of the world.  1
By this time, too, a new social order was coming into being. Important kin leaders became warrior rulers, often men of great spiritual authority who interceded with the ancestors. Soon they became the aristocratic nobility of early Chinese civilization, represented by the Shang Civilization of northern China and other states. But these political and social developments would never have been possible without the unswerving conservatism of the village farmer, who accepted the new and emerging social order that imposed an almost alien, wealthy, and very privileged society on their shoulders. They did so because of putative kin ties that obligated the farmer to provide food and labor for their rulers.  2
Early Chinese states rose and fell with rapidity for centuries, until the Emperor Shi Huangdi unified China in 221 B.C.E. In later centuries, Chinese trading activities in Southeast Asia played a pivotal role in the development of indigenous states there. The Chinese were also linked to the Indian Ocean trade, indeed sailed as far as the East African coast in the sixth century C.E.  3
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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