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Thames & Hudson

Chapter 15 - Complex Societies of East and Southeast Asia
Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, students should be able to:

    understand the variety of environments, climates, and topography found in East, Central and Southeast Asia, and the impact of these conditions on the development of complex societies

    explain how recent archaeological discoveries have overturned or changed our understanding of Asian prehistory and history

    discuss the conditions arising when several competing polities develop in the same general region

    trace various ways in which elites in different societies legitimize and consolidate their power

    understand the role of crafts production and the control of crafts and industries in the rise of complex societies

    explain how elites reinforce their position by acquiring "outside" technology, weapons, prestige goods, and ideas from trading partners or patron states

    describe the role of elite control of religion in the rise of Asian states, through "access" to deceased ancestors, possession of sacred items, or other means

    characterize the differing natures of various state polities that developed in Asia

    characterize the various dynasties and dynastic eras within Asian societies, and what roles they played in the rise and fall of states in the region

    understand the tensions between rulers and regional aristocrats/nobles in some Asian states, and how this operated in terms of cycling, continuity, and change

    discuss the quest for trade, how it benefited various social classes, and its role in state formation

    describe the interactions between the larger regions of Asia: South, Central, East, and Southeast Asia, and how they impacted each other's trajectories

    discuss the role of religious ideologies, such as Confucianism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, on the organization and control of states

    discuss the role of women in the rulership of some Asian states

    explain how warfare within and between states changed the political landscape of Asia

    describe the role of "bureaucrats" and other officials in the development and maintenance of the state

    discuss the ability of rulers to control labor, and its significance for state development in Asia

    characterize the role of individual rulers/dynasties, versus social, political, and economic processes, versus ordinary people in the unfolding of state development in Asia


The Rise of Complex Societies Research in China has traditionally concentrated on the Yellow River valley, but new insights into early Chinese civilization come from research in the Yangzi Valley. Complex societies had early beginnings in several regions, and include the Daxi culture, the Liangzhu culture, and the Hongshan culture.

The Longshan Culture The Shi Ji discusses the period of the Five Emperors, naming kings, cities, battles, and rival kingdoms. The Han Shu mentions walled cities that may refer to Longshan culture. Defensive walls, rich burials, metallurgy, military artifacts, and craft specialization in jade and ceramics characterize Longshan culture, and during the late 3rd millennium BC, Longshan centers and cemeteries display hierarchical social structure on the brink of state formation, but they were not alone in northern China.

Chengziyai yielded inscribed oracle bones dating to between 2500 and 1900 BC, anticipating the Shang practice of oracle bone divination. Symbols on pottery that anticipate the Chinese script have been found at Dinggong and Jingyanggang. Longshan sites incorporated stamped-earth walls and foundations, some containing human sacrifices, antecedents of Shang practices.

The Lower Xiajiadian Culture The Lower Xiajiadian culture was contemporary with Longshan. Excavations at Fengxia indicate three phases, and 2000 sites fall into three groups based on size and the presence of defenses.

At Dadianzi, 800 excavated burials indicate a custom of single inhumation burials with elites in large, richly endowed graves, indicating craft specialists in ceramic, polished stone, lacquerware, jade and bronze -- evidence of increasing social distinctions. Bronzes reflect connections with the Andronovo steppe culture and Bactria (northwest Afghanistan). Oracle bone divination on scapulae was widespread, indicating connections to later Shang civilization.

The Xia Dynasty The Xia Dynasty (c. 1700-1500 BC), the first dynasty of China, is known from both the Shi Ji and archaeology, especially at the city of Erlitou, which covers over 300 ha (750 acres) and has four phases within the first half of the 2nd millennium BC. The first two phases relate to Longshan culture, the third and fourth reveal marked changes: two palaces, ritual bronze vessels, and elite burials, including bronzes vessels, dagger-axes, battle-axes, knives, and ceremonial yazhang blades, and ritually important jade cong cylinders. Early written characters appear on pottery, and an animal scapula was used for divination.

The Shang Dynasty The Shi Ji was once the principal source on Shang culture, until in the late 19th century, an inscribed turtle shell led to the discovery of Anyang, the last capital of the Shang Dynasty (c. 1500-1045 BC). More sites and over 100,000 oracle bones have since been discovered. Divinations concerned war, hunting, rainfall, agriculture, and the royal family's health.

Archaeologists have explored the early Shang walled capital at Zhengzhou, where an extramural area of 25 sq. km (9.7 sq. miles) included bronze, bone, and ceramic workshops, cemeteries, and the homes of specialist craftspeople. A moated palace lay within the city walls, near richly endowed graves. Zhengzhou was eventually superseded as capital by Huanbei (1400-1200 BC), containing a palace precinct with at least 25 buildings.

The capital then moved to Anyang, which covered at least 25 sq. km (9.7 sq. miles). Palace foundations, ancestor temples, and oracle bone repositories have been found. Chariots at the site may have come from Armenia. The royal necropolis at Anyang includes 12 subterranean tombs each approached by four descending ramps. Each contained a wooden chamber, rich goods, weapons, and hundreds of human sacrifices.

Temples hosted rituals dedicated to the supreme god Di, who had influence over nature and agriculture, and also encouraged war on enemy states, though the ancestors increasingly assumed this role.

The Changjiang Culture The newly recognized Changjiang culture indicates that Yangzi Valley peoples rivaled the Shang in social complexity. Sanxingdui, a walled city, contained ritual pits, yielding ceremonial jade yazhang blades and ge daggers, and hundreds of bronzes, jades, and gold artifacts. Among the items were gigantic cast bronze trees, one with birds in the branches, a gigantic bronze male statue, 44 bronze heads, bronze masks, and bronze vessels, capped by 60 elephant tusks.

These may relate to burials of the kings of Shu, a state mentioned in the Shang archives. Small models show the function of the yazhang jade blades and the massive bronze heads; they were used in sacrifice, and as parts of a ritual structure. The tradition of casting gigantic bronze items is unique to the rulers of Sanxingdui.

The Changjiang culture is also evident at the city of Wucheng and necropolis of Xin'gan, where a royal tomb of the late Shang period contained hundreds of artifacts, many with a distinctive southern tiger motif. The Changjiang polity may have formed the basis for the Chu state.

The Western Zhou Dynasty The Shang Dynasty ended with Zhou conquest in 1045 BC. The Zhou Dynasty is well-documented textually (the Shi Ji; the Bamboo Annals) and archaeologically. During the Western Zhou (1045-771 BC), the capital was at Zongzhou. It was later sacked and the capital moved east to Luoyang, initiating the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC).

Thirteen emperors ruled until 771 BC, a dominance partly based on new forms of armor, halberds, and swords. In an expansionist policy, peripheral states were conquered and ruled by royal kin. The policy failed when kin grew scarce and provincial rulers grew powerful, founding their own small states. Wealthy burials of the Jin state are found at Tianma Qucun. Rich tombs of the state of Wei are found at Xincun. The state of Yan was founded by a prince of the Zhou line. Rich burials at Fangshan cemetery near Beijing are associated with another provincial state.

The early Zhou adopted ritual and mortuary practices from Shang. Bronze ritual banqueting vessels honored ancestors with inscriptions; a hoard was found at Zhuangbai. Another continuing Shang practice was the interment of chariots, horses, and charioteers. A large palace complex containing stamped-earth foundations and oracle bones was unearthed at Fengchu. A hall with a complex drainage system lay between two enclosed courts. A second palace with a large great hall may have hosted royal ceremonies. This site also included bone, ceramic, and bronze workshops.

Western Zhou Bronzeworking. Such palaces and settlements with bronze foundries are similar to Shang cities such as Anyang. The vessel types and manufacturing techniques were also similar; early Zhou rulers may have acquired Shang specialists. Royalty and their vassals thus produced their own vessels and weaponry, leading to competition and friction. At Luoyang, a large intensive bronzeworking area, with complex casting molds, furnaces, and workers dwellings was found.

A "ritual revolution" in the 9th century BC can be traced through the analysis of the bronzes in the mortuary record. Highly varied collections of bronze funerary feasting vessels were replaced with standardized sets of identical forms, with long, identical inscriptions. Rank was apparently indicated by the number of identical vessels that an individual possessed. More bronzes could be acquired over time as wealth permitted. This encouraged mass production and commercialization of items previously limited to court rituals.

During the Western Zhou Dynasty, literature, music, and poetry flourished, and growing trade encouraged new administrative structures, but in 771 BC, the capital was moved to Luoyang, establishing the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.

The Eastern Zhou Dynasty The Eastern Zhou Dynasty is divided into the Spring and Autumn Annals period (770-481 BC), and the Warring States period (481-221 BC), named for historic texts. Luoyang kings were weak, thus regional states, the "Five Hegemonies" developed. The Hua Xia states controlled the central plains during the Spring and Autumn period. Factionalism and rivalry erupted during the Warring States period, when the powerful states of Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei, and Qin were collectively called the Ten Thousand Chariot states. Archaeology now provides important data abut Eastern Zhou, especially through ancient texts describing battles, historic events, laws, and details of Qin rule over the defeated state of Chu, such as those found in the tomb of Xi, and others on silk, official seals, bronzes and ceramics.

After moving the court to Luoyang, Eastern Zhou's feudal bonds with their vassals broke, and the vassal states rapaciously expanded (to the dismay of the philosopher Confucius who deemed their tactics immoral). At the same time, states outside the Eastern Zhou sphere rose in power: the Chu, the Wu, the Yue, and the Shu. The Ba system developed, where one state's ruler acted as a paramount over others. The Ba state rotated between Zheng, Qi, or Jin, and eventually Yue. Loyal followers were given suzerainty over conquered areas, creating the seeds of trouble by building up regional elites, who could rise against the center: Jin was thus divided into Han, Wei, and Zhao. Contested succession led to a widespread murder of rival royal heirs, leading to a political philosophy based on absolutism and self-interest.

Technological and Social Changes. Advanced iron weapon and armor technology spread during the Warring States period, changing military strategy and intensifying warfare, causing the annihilation of states and ruling dynasties. Agricultural advances fed large permanent armies. The Eastern Zhou dynasty eventually gave way to the state of Qin, under Qin Shi Huangdi, in 221 BC.

This competitive milieu also encouraged art, architecture, and industry. New cities displayed changing internal layouts. Social elites fled to new urban centers in politically turbulent times, thus requiring strong defenses. Increased trade and a rising mercantile class turned royal administrative hubs into true urban centers with a central royal palace.

Bronze and iron specialists served the ruler and court: the rise of powerful ministerial and bureaucratic families raised the demand for fine bronzes, seen in differential bronze tomb wealth. War demanded weaponry, while status competition led to new decorative techniques. Exceptional bronzes are represented by the furnishings from Leigudun tomb 1 (433 BC).

The Qin Dynasty In 221 BC Qin Shi Huangdi became the First Emperor of China (after Qin, pronounced "chin"). He was a reformer, creating 36 provinces, or "commanderies" under appointed governors with military and administrative power. Uniform small seal script (xiaozhuan) writing was adopted, weights, measures, and currency were standardized, and a uniform legal system was enforced, all consolidating imperial power.

A huge labor force built roads and a canal system, while 300,000 men built the Great Wall in northern China to repel invading Xiongnu steppe horsemen. Over 600,000 worked on the Emperor's tomb. Mass uprooting and resettlements were undertaken to strengthen defenses and increase agricultural production.

Qin Shi Huangdi's massive mortuary complex at Lintong was filled with personal belongings and depictions of his empire. Famous life-sized terracotta replicas of the Emperor's armies have been found, as was a replica zoological garden, and royal chariot. Court intrigue and rebellions troubled his heirs, bringing the Qin Dynasty to an early end.

The Han Dynasty The Han Dynasty, divided into Western Han and the later Eastern Han, initiated changes still part of China's heritage. The earlier capital lay at Chang'an, the later at Luoyang. An interregnum fell between AD 9 and 23, during which the regent Wang Mang established the Xin, or "New," Dynasty.

Administration. During Han times, some dependent states were ruled by appointed kings, and the commandery system was maintained. Administrators attending a central training institution were taught by Confucian scholars. By the late Western Han era, there were 120,285 officials in the administration. A Chancellor, Imperial Counselor, and Commander of the Armed Forces led government, under which were nine ministries controlling aspects of society run by hierarchically ranked bureaucrats. A harem of well-born imperial consorts produced many child and infant emperors; thus Dowager Empresses and their families wielded much power, attracting assassins.

The territorial expansion of the Western Han under Emperor Wudi (140-87 BC), required military force. The state expanded into the Tarim basin, the Red River basin and the Korean peninsula. Frontier defense is seen in the extension of the Great Wall against Xiongnu threats. Internal discontent and uprisings are evident through the Red Eyebrow and Yellow Turban uprisings.

With the exception of those who could buy exemption, young men underwent military conscription leading to a year of service. Survivors were active reserves until age 56. The Northern Army served in the state's heartland. Militia could be called up to fight internal or Xiongnu threats.

Agriculture. Han administrators attempted to alleviate farmers' hardships and improve productivity, leading to demographic increase and a population concentration in the central plains. Farmers were urged to settle in northern border regions as a bulwark against incursions, and rewarded with land, housing, medical care, and tax concessions. Migration also flowed southward.

Centrally planned irrigation increased production. Iron improved plows and farm implements. In 85 BC, the Zhao Guo introduced the seed drill. The water-powered bellows improved iron production, and water power also milled grain.

Religious Beliefs. Religious beliefs mixed old and new forms. The worship of Di as supreme god expanded under Emperor Guang Wudi (reigned AD 25-75). Emperor Wudi added new deities, the Earth Queen and the Grand Unity. Imperial rituals involved animal sacrifices and burnt offerings. In 31 BC, the deity Dian became primary, linked to the ruling dynasty.

Immortality beliefs fueled mortuary rituals involving elaborate tombs to supply needs in the afterlife. The soul (hun) could enter paradise, while the body (bo) remained on earth, preserved and accompanied by necessary goods.

The mortuary complex of Emperor Jingdi (156-141 BC) is an example of such rituals. High-status tombs of private individuals shed more light on mortuary ritual, such as the graves at Mawangdui containing Li Cang, the Marquis of Dai, and his wife and son.

Emperors and high-status aristocrats were buried in jade suits believed to preserve the body and thus the bo. Status was marked by the use of gold, silver, or bronze thread. At Mancheng, the tomb of Prince Liu Sheng represents such a burial. The Han era was relatively peaceful and prosperous after a long period of strife.


In 108 BC, the Han conquered and founded four provinces in northern Korea; one, Lelang, lasted four centuries. Local elites were provincial administrators using Chinese titles. This provoked the rise of indigenous states, three of which - Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla - belong to the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC-AD 668).

Koguryo Koguryo (37 BC -AD 668) gained independence by defeating the Lelang commandery in AD 313, and became politically and economically dominant. Trade and agriculture flourished, and kings constructed tombs, walled cities, palaces, temples, and defensive walls. From AD 372, a Confucian-oriented university trained administrators. The stone-walled palace with moat and reservoir lay at the early capital Jian. In AD 427 Pyongyang became the capital, with defensive walls, palace, and Buddhist temples. Archaeologists have recovered plowshares, coins, and chariot fittings at the city of Fushun. Elite tombs at Jian, Chinpari, and Anak contain jeweled frescoes of noble activities and rituals

Kaya Kaya was a confederation of city-states in southernmost Korea, where iron ore is found, and smelting and export of iron was economically important.

Pit graves and mound-covered stone-lined tombs at Paekchonni and Pokchondong contain iron armor, helmets, and horse masks, displaying Kaya's need for defense against powerful Silla and Paekche. Artifacts, arms, and armor from a royal grave at Taesongdong reveal widespread trade contacts from Scythia to Japan, where Kaya was influential. Royal graves at Chisandong reveal large central mortuary chambers and smaller stone-lined tombs for sacrificed victims comprised of men, women, and children.

Paekche Paekche, an agrarian state, adopted Buddhism in AD 384. It was the most cultured kingdom, speaking court Chinese by the 4th century AD, and sending the first Buddha images to Japan in AD 552. Wars with Koguryo and Silla caused relocation of its capital. Paekche was defeated by a Tang -- Silla alliance in AD 660. Few ancient structures survive, but archaeologists have revealed many sites such as fortified Mongchon, Isong Sansong, and Pungnamni. Mounded elite and royal tombs at Sokchondong, Karakdong, Naju, and Kongju, contained precious and rich furnishings.

Silla Silla conquered Kaya, Koguryo, and Paekche with Chinese aid during the 6th and 7th centuries AD. Developing from an alliance of clans in 37 BC, the ruler called Kosogan ("big man") became Maripkan, or hereditary king by the 4th century AD. The rules of succession incorporated three known reigning queens. Rich ore deposits at Hwangsong-dong enabled iron export to Japan, perhaps fueling the state's development.

Silla society was ranked by ancestry: songgol ("holy bone") ruling families, chingol ("true bone") nobles, then three further ranks before commoners. Unlike Koguryo and Paekche, Silla retained an indigenous shamanistic religion; Buddhism was not adopted until the 5th century AD.

Archaeological research has focused on the Silla capital and burial mounds at Panwol-song, but early state formation is represented at Choyangdong, with pit graves from the 1st-2nd centuries AD containing Han mirrors and beads. Burials at Kujongdong contain iron spears and bronze swords. Golden crowns, belts, and other ornaments fill 155 royal mound graves at Kyongju, revealing a rich and opulent society. Military gear dominated male graves.

Many fortresses dot the landscape; one at Panwolsong housed the royal palace, another protected the port of Pusan. Of the Buddhist temples, one, built in Kyongju by Queen Sondok in AD 645, survives, where artifacts confirm Chinese trade.

Great Silla Korean unification in AD 668 is revealed in the Great (or Unified) Silla period, until AD 918 when Koryo conquered Silla. During the 8th century AD, Tang China was its greatest influence, and the capital, Kumsong, modeled on Chinese Chang'an, contained over a million people. Excavations at Anapchi Lake revealed palace life, including preserved administrative records.

Buddhist temples and statues of granite are ubiquitous, such as at Mount P'algong. Craftspeople cast bronze figures, exemplified at the Kamun-sa temple. Gold examples come from the Hwangbok-sa temple. Silla architectural and sculptural styles are showcased at the Sokkuram cave temple at Mount Toham. Gilded iron Buddha images are unique to later Silla sculpture.


Early Yamato The Yamato kingdom was ruled by okimi, or great kings, whose burial mounds were known as kofun. Archaeology, and two early historic accounts, the Nihongi and Kojiki, illuminate the era.

Kofun resemble contemporary tombs in Korea. Huge examples in the Nara basin may belong to early Yamato kings and contain exotic prestige goods, iron weaponry, and armor.

The five kings of the Sujin dynasty reigned from AD 219 to 346. The first, Sujin, a military leader, worshiped the kami (deity or spirit) of Mount Miwa to claim sacred legitimacy. Six kofun mounds are found there. Elite tombs indicate competition and military rivalry through iron weapons and armor.

The Growth of Yamato Power Korea brought literacy to Japan during the second Ojin dynasty. The political center moved to Saki, where large kofun are located. By AD 400 the power base moved onto the Osaka plains near the Inland Sea.

In the 5th century AD Yamato controlled military power and practiced diplomacy with Korean states, but administration is unknown. Rulers constructed irrigation works and suppressed dissent, and must have controlled labor. Chronicles mention military positions and Korean scribes. Specialist craft-workers are evident.

Important elite tombs include the Furuichi group with the Ojin tomb, and the Mozu group with the Nintoku tomb, with haniwa and caches of weaponry and armor. From AD 450, Korean-style ornaments are found.

The shift from ritual to militaristic items once led to a theory of invasion by mounted foreigners, but this is not supported archaeologically. The alternative hypothesis is that the second Yamato dynasty developed from the first, changed its political center to harness the power of local clans during increasing political contact with Korean counterparts. Territorial gains were made against former rivals to secure access to Korea.

Inscribed swords, such as one from Inariyama, provide evidence for the extension of Yamato control during the 5th century.

Decline and Civil War In AD 507, Keitai relocated the court and royal tombs back to the Mount Miwa area, but power began to decline in Keitai's reign. Silla encroached into Kaya, taking iron ore-bearing territory traditionally loyal to Yamato. Attempts to retake the area were foiled by rebellion and desire for independence in the provinces.

In AD 585, senior clans and the royal court were embroiled in civil war over Imperial succession, exacerbated by the lack of primogeniture and numerous royal claimants. Many short-lived rulers mark the era, with the Empress Suiko enjoying the only lasting reign.

The Asuka Enlightenment China, reunited in AD 589 under the Sui Dynasty, influenced and received tribute from Yamato and the three Korean states. The Sui emperor Wendi built a new capital and palace, and initiated construction of the Grand Canal. Through Confucian obedience, all subjects were registered in an efficient taxation system. Yamato officials adopted similar ideas during the Asuka Enlightenment (after the new court capital, Asuka).

Chinese-style script, Sui-style palace capitals, and Buddhism of the Chinese style were now adopted. Struggles over the succession and enthronement of Empress Suiko created religious rifts, with Soga no Imako and Prince Shotoku vowing to promote Buddhism if successful, leading to construction of the Asuka-derae and the Shitenno-ji temples, aiding Buddhism's rapid spread.

Korean immigrants numbered among the armored cavalry and the 816 monks recorded in AD 623. Korean-influenced architecture is evident in temples and elite burial goods. The Enlightenment also saw imperially appointed Twelve Ranks, based on merit and ability rather then heredity and guided by Confucian principles. The Seventeen Injunctions of Prince Shotoku (AD 604) confirm Confucian-based requirements of many types.

Interest in Chinese administration, art, and culture became greater when Sui was replaced by the Tang Dynasty in AD 618. The deaths of Prince Shotoku (AD 622) and Empress Suiko (AD 628) ushered in factional politics and bloodshed between the imperial family and powerful clans, settled with the appointment of Emperor Kotoku (reigned 645-654), who moved the capital from Asuka to Naniwa on the coast. Kotoku implemented major reforms affecting imperial powers and the tax system, known as the Taika Reforms: a census and an agricultural tax paid in goods, labor, weaponry, and armor.

The Transition from Yamato to Nara The defeat of Yamato's Korean ally, Paekche, by Tang China and Silla led to fort construction, increased central military control, and a new, more easily defended capital built at Otsu. Emperors Tenji (reigned 668-671) and Tenmu (673-686) legitimized their authority through construction of Tang-style palace-capitals.

New edicts outlined the legal basis of imperial rule: the divine origins of the royal dynasty. Buddhist sutras favoring royal rule were widely read. Tenmu's widow, Empress Jito, constructed a new Chinese-style capital at Fujiwara. In 702, the Taiho Code was issued: laws that institutionalized the aristocratically-based Fujiwara regime. Succession was not restricted to males. The empress was succeeded by her sister Genme, who moved the capital to nearby Heijo-kyo, which seamlessly established the Nara state.

Yamato was a seminal period in Japanese civilization leading directly into the Nara state.


The Silk Road spread languages, cultigens, stylistic motifs, bronzeworking and the horse-drawn chariot into China. When the Han expanded westward, trade flourished on routes along the Taklamakan Desert, across the steppes to Ferghana and the Syr Darya Valley in Central Asia and toward the Caspian Sea and Mediterranean lands. Many states developed through control of this trade, combined with irrigation agriculture and exploitation of natural resources.

Khotan The state of Khotan (Yutian), was a renowned jade source lying between East and West. The walled capital has been destroyed by looting for gold, jade, and other artifacts. The Khotanese spoke a Middle Iranian Saka language, written in the Indian Brahmi script, which was the vehicle for Buddhist texts reaching China. The Tibetan Li Yul annals provide a history of 56 kings, accepting Buddhism around 104 BC. The 14th king, Vijaya Jaya, married a Chinese princess who brought silk worms to establish a Khotanese silk industry.

Bronze coins of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD bear Kharoshthi and Chinese inscriptions, naming local kings as Maharaja ("Great King") and Yidaraja ("King of Khotan"). Chinese and Kushan coins are evidence of a wide exchange network, as the Kushan empire incorporated Samarkand, Bokhara, and Fergana in Central Asia, and Gandhara (northern Pakistan and Afghanistan) further west.

Shanshan Shanshan, originally called Loulan, was founded in the 1st century BC. It incorporated the south and east Tarim basin, the city of Niya, the areas and cities of Endere, Cherchen, Charklik, and Miran, The Loulan core lay at the confluence of the Kuruk Darya River and Lop Nur lake, a strategic Silk Road location where northern or southern routes split. Shanshan was subject to warlike incursions by the Xiongnu, and the Chinese Shi Ji and the Han Shu discuss its walled cities and large population.

During centralized periods in China, Shanshan was a client state, but when the central government was weak, Shanshan was independent. Documents on wooden slips, cloth, and paper provide insight into Shanshan, describing the presence of Chinese military commanders and agricultural supervisors. A Shanshan prince was sent as a hostage to the Western Jin court in AD 283.

Most Loulan documents were written in Chinese, but some are in Kharoshthi, which originated in Gandhara, derived from Aramaic during Achaemenid (Persian) dominance in the 5th century BC. It was also used in Sogdiana and Bactria under the Kushan empire, in the Krorãn kingdom, and as far east as Luoyang in China. Northern and western Indian coins also bear Kharoshthi legends. Documents from Niya from between AD 230 and 335 describe royal orders, messages, and Buddhist administration, including place names that can be linked to known places.

In AD 399, the Chinese monk Fa Xi'an described a Buddhist ruler and several thousand monks. First attacked by China in AD 442, Shanshan was conquered by the northern Wei in 445. Later, the Hephthalite Huns controlled this region, followed by the 6th century Turks, the Tang Chinese in the mid-7th century, until 751, when Arabs defeated the Tang.


When the Eastern Han dynasty fell and the Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280) rose, an alternative, maritime route to the West was sought. Thus, the Chinese came into contact with Southeast Asian kings who commanded palaces, cities, cultivation, taxation, and writing.

Funan, the Mekong Delta The Funan state controlled the strategic Mekong Delta, and had large walled cities linked by canals. Archaeological research at Oc Eo (Vietnam) and Angkor Borei (Cambodia) reveal Sanskrit royal names, use of the Brahmi script, worship of Hindu gods, and Buddhism. Brick temples contain cremation pits. Grave offerings include gold plaques with Buddhist inscriptions and Hindu images.

Trade with China and India supported Funan until the mid-6th century AD, when changing trade patterns caused political power to shift inland to a group of warring principalities called Chenla by the Chinese. One, centered at Ishanapura (Cambodia) left inscriptions describing a dynasty with a central court, temples, water control, and a bureaucracy. In the 8th century AD Jayavarman II founded the state of Angkor.

Angkor, Cambodia Angkor is a complex of cities, temples, and reservoirs located north of the Great Lake in Cambodia. Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions indicate that its occupants were ancestral to modern Cambodians.

The earliest occupation lies west of the main complex: an enclosure at Banteay Choeu, and the Ak Yum, Prei Khmeng, and Phnom Rung temples lie within or nearby. A second enclosure lies to the north. Banteay Choeu may have been the work of Jayavarman II, who, in AD 802, consecrated himself chakravartin, supreme king on earth, as he founded Angkor.

Another complex, Hariharalaya, contains the Indratataka reservoir with temples to its south. Later inscriptions state that Jayavarman II retired there before his death in about AD 835. The Roluos Group structures were constructed during Indravarman's reign (877-889), incorporating two major temples, Preah Ko and the Bakong.

When Indravarman died, his son Yashovarman built a new capital on the Bakheng hill, the massive Eastern Baray reservoir, and Hindu monasteries and temples.

Jayavarman IV established a capital at Koh Ker; Rajendravarman II (reigned 944-968) returned to the old center and built the Pre Rup and Eastern Mebon temples to honor ancestors and house sacred objects. He was succeeded by Jayavarman V who also reigned at Angkor, whose state temple, Hemasringagiri, represented Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods. Civil war erupted after Jayavarman V death, eventually won by Suryavarman I (reigned 1002-1050), who embellished Angkor with the Phimeanakas temple. Royal buildings lay within a high wall enclosing a large precinct, and the Western Baray, the largest reservoir, was constructed. The Western Mebon temple to Vishnu was built in the style of Suryavarman's successor, Udayadityavarman.

Under the succeeding Mahidharapura dynasty (from about 1080), Angkor attained its present layout. Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument known, was constructed by Suryavarman II (reigned 1113-1150) and displays many sculptural depictions of court life, warfare, and religious themes.

The second Mahidharapura king, the Buddhist Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1219) built Angkor Thom, the walled city that dominates Angkor, and the northern reservoir. The Bayon temple lies at its center, and the Neak Pean temple foundation inscriptions describe how Jayavarman VII founded two vast temple complexes, Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. Building activity slowed at his death. The Thais encroached and Angkor was abandoned in the mid-15th century. The temples were never abandoned and retain their sanctity to this day.

The Arakan Coast, Burma The Arakan coast of western Burma (Myanmar) lay along Asian maritime routes of the early centuries AD and facilitated the Buddhist missions sent to Southeast Asia by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. Two major cities spanned the 5th to the 8th centuries AD.

The walled city of Dhanyawadi lay on a river route to the Bay of Bengal, and contained a walled precinct and palace. Inscriptions in the Shitthaung Pagoda of King Anandacandra in the city of Mrauk-U date to AD 729 and list the region's kings, such as Dvan Candra (reigned 370 to 425).

Vesali, also on rivers leading to the Bay of Bengal, superseded Dhanyawadi as the capital during the early 6th century AD. An outer moat and walls enclose a walled precinct and palace complex. Excavations in the 1980s revealed Buddhist foundations. Commerce is reflected in locally minted coins, found as far away as Bangladesh, and south Indian and Mediterranean artifacts are found in Vesali.

The Pyu of Burma The Pyu or Tircul people of Burma were first mentioned as the Piao in Chang Chu's mid-4th century AD Chinese text, and described as "civilized." Archaeology reveals that the Pyu state developed between 200 BC and AD 900.

Three walled cities, Beikthano, Sri Ksetra, and Halin, lay in valleys along the Irrawaddy River, used for irrigation. Beikthano displays a pre-Buddhist mortuary tradition: brick and timber halls containing high-status cremations. By the 4th or 5th century AD, Buddhism took root, and stupas and monasteries were constructed. The Pyu spoke a Sino-Tibetan language, used Indian scripts, and participated in a widespread trading network; they were proficient bronze- and silver-workers. Ultimately the Pyu were succeeded by the state of Pagan; a major destruction layer at Halin may relate to this, although many Pyu arts, crafts, and ideas were incorporated into the Pagan state.

The Dvaravati of Thailand Dvaravati flourished in the Chao Phraya River valley in Thailand from AD 400 to 900, coming under the influence and control of Angkor. They spoke Mon, closely related to Khmer. The names of Dvaravati rulers survive in inscriptions describing their religious and military deeds.

Archaeologists have investigated large, moated cities and the foundations of religious buildings with Buddhist figures and symbols. The Ku Bua site has images of Semitic traders, emphasizing the importance of international trade to the rise of this state. The major sites include U-Thong, Nakhon Pathom, Lopburi, Ban Khu Muang, Sri Thep, Muang Phra Rot, Dong Si Mahosod, and Dong Lakhon.

The Cham of Vietnam The Cham occupied coastal Vietnam and spoke an Austronesian language. This territory is divided into coastal enclaves, backed by the Truong Son cordillera. Centers were located where rivers cross the coastal plains in several regions. Champa was never a unified state, but a group of kingdoms. Chinese records contain many references to the Chams, who often raided their southern frontier. During centralized periods in China, histories recorded that the Chams sent tribute missions to the Chinese court, and listed their rulers. Fan-Wen was a prominent early Cham ruler, succeeded by his descendants Fan-Fo (from AD 349) and Fan-Hua (399-413). During his reign, Sanskrit names were adopted.

Box Features

Key Discovery: The Origins Of Chinese Writing
Key Discovery: Southern Rivals to Shang Culture
Key Discovery: Confucianism
Key Discovery: The Origins Of Chinese Metallurgy
Key Site: Zhengzhou: A Shang Capital
Key Site: Sanxingdui
Key Site: Tonglushan: A Copper-mining Site
Key Site: Angkor: Capital City of the Khmer
Key Site: Mawangdui
Key Controversy: The Origins Of Southeast Asian Indianized States

Key words and terms Chapter 15

Geography, environment
Yellow and Yangzi river valleys
Huan River
Wei Valley
Han expansion of borders: Jade Gate (far west Gansu Province); the Tarim basin; Red River basin in Vietnam; the Korean peninsula

Yalu River valley
Taedong River
Naktong River

Inland Sea
Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku islands
Nara basin
Osaka plain
Tsushima Strait

Central Asia
Tarim basin
Taklamakan Desert
Syr Darya Valley
Caspian Sea
Kunlun Range
Kuruk Darya River
Lop Nur lake

Southeast Asia
Great Lake (Tonle Sap)
the Arakan coast of western Burma (Myanmar)
Kaladan River
Bay of Bengal
Tarechaung River
Rann Chuang River
Irrawaddy River
Chao Phraya River
coastal plains of Vietnam
Hai Van Pass
Mekong Delta
Cape Dinh
Cape Nay
Quy Nhon

Khotanese Middle Iranian Saka; Indian Brahmi script

People (modern)
Jessica Rawson
Aurel Stein
Louis Finot

People (ancient)
Sima Qian (c. 145-86 BC)
Ban Biao (AD 3-54) and his son Ban Gu
Wu Ding (died 1189 BC)
Fu Hao, consort of Wu Ding
Tiger Warrior infantry
Xinghou Zhi
King Yi Jiu/King Ping (died 721 BC)
Xi, archivist and lawyer
Marquis of Zeng (died 433 BC)
Qin Shi Huangdi ("august emperor of Qin"), First Emperor of China (died 210 BC)
Er Shi Huangdi ("second august emperor") (died 207 BC)
Wang Mang (ruled AD 9-23)
Emperor Wudi (140-87 BC)
Zhao Zuo
Zhao Guo
Emperor Zhengdi (33-7 BC)
Emperor Guang Wudi (reigned AD 25-75)
Emperor Jingdi (156-141 BC)
Li Cang, the Marquis of Dai
Prince Liu Sheng
Emperor Wendi
Western Jin emperor Wudi (AD 265-289)
Emperor Lingdi (AD 168-189)
Fa Xi'an
Chang Chu
Jia Dan (AD 730-805)

Dong Shou (died AD 357)
King Muryong (died AD 523)
Queen Sondok

Sujin ("he who ruled first") (reigned AD 219 to 346)
Ojin (reigned AD 346 and 395)
King Yuryaku (reigned AD 457-479)
Keitai (ascended AD 507)
Emperor Bidatsu (died AD 585)
Soga no Imako
Empress Suiko (reigned AD 592 - 628)
Prince Shotoku (died AD 622)
Prince Yamashiro,
Emperor Jomei
Empress Kogyokui (reigned AD 642-645)
Emperor Kotoku (reigned AD 645-654)
Emperor Tenji (reigned AD 668-671)
Emperor Tenmu (reigned AD 673-686)
Empress Jito (reigned AD 686-707)
Empress Genmei (reigned AD 707-715)

Central Asia
King Vijaya Sambhava (Khotan)
King Vijaya Jaya (Khotan)
King Amgvaka (Shanshan) (reigned AD 255-258 to 293-296)

Southeast Asia
Jayavarman II (Angkor)
Indravarman (AD 877-889) (Angkor)
Yashovarman (Angkor)
Jayavarman IV (Angkor)
Rajendravarman II (reigned 944-968) (Angkor)
Jayavarman V (Angkor)
Suryavarman I (reigned 1002-1050) (Angkor)
Udayadityavarman (Angkor)
Suryavarman II (reigned 1113-1150) (Angkor)
Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1219) (Angkor)
King Anandacandra (Arakan)
King Dvan Candra (ruled AD 370 to 425) (Arakan)
King Anawratha of Pagan (Pyu)
Sri Harshavarman (Dvaravati)
Pruthiveenadravarman (Dvaravati)
Bhavavarman (Dvaravati)
King Jaya Harivarmadeva (Champa)
Fan-Wen (Champa)
Fan-Fo (from AD 349) (Champa)
Fan-Hua (AD 399-413) (Champa).
King Bhadravarman (Champa)

Shi Ji ("Records of the Grand Historian")
Han Shu ("History of the Former Han")
Bamboo Annals (history of China up to 298 BC)
Spring and Autumn Annals (770-481 BC)
Warring States text (481-221 BC)
Hou Han Shu ("History of the Later Han")

The Nihongi and Kojiki (early 8th century AD)

Central Aisa
Li Yul annals

Dynasties, states, cultures
Daxi culture (c. 4000 BC)
Liangzhu culture (c. 3300-2250 BC)
Hongshan culture (c. 4700-2900 BC)
Longshan culture
Lower Xiajiadian culture
Andronovo culture (steppes)
Bactria (Afghanistan)
Xia Dynasty (c. 1700-1500 BC)
Shang Dynasty (c. 1500-1045 BC)
Changjiang culture
State of Shu
State of Chu
Zhou Dynasty,
Western Zhou Dynasty (1045-771 BC)
Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC)
State of Jin
State of Wei
State of Yan
Period of the Spring and Autumn Annals (770-481 BC)
The Five Hegemonies
The Hua Xia states
Warring States period (481-221 BC)
States of Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei, and Qin (the Ten Thousand Chariot states)
States of Lu, Wu, Yue, and Shu
State of Zhang
States of Han, Wei, and Zhao created from Jin
State of Qin defeats Eastern Zhou, 221 BC
Xiongnu, steppe horsemen
Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220)
Western Han Dynasty
Han interregnum (AD 9 -23): Xin, or "New," Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty (ended AD 220)
The Three Kingdoms (AD 220-280).
Sui Dynasty (AD 589-618) (China reunited)
Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906)
Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644)

Four Chinese ruled provinces, longest lived: Lelang, defeated by Koguryo in AD 313
Three indigenous states: Koguryo, Paekche, and Silla
Three Kingdoms period (57 BC-AD 668)
Kaya: confederation of city-states (early 1st millennium AD- AD 562)
Great (or Unified) Silla (AD 668 - AD 918)
Koryo state (established AD 918)

Kingdom of Yamato (3rd century AD -AD 715)
Sujin Dynasty (first dynasty)
Ojin Dynasty (second dynasty)
The Nara state (established AD 707)

Central Asia, Western Asia, South Asia
Khotan (Chinese, Yutian)
Kushan empire
Krorän kingdom

Southeast Asia
state of Funan
state of Chenla
state of Angkor
dynasty of Mahidharapura (from about 1080)
the Arakan State
the Pyu or Tircul people of Burma
the Dvaravati state (AD 400 -900)
the Cham people, Champa
Panduranga, Vijaya, Amaravati polities
state of Linyi (Champa, known as Huanwang after AD 757)

Deities, religions
Di, four and five aspects of Di
Earth Queen and the Grand Unity
Mount Dai
31 BC royal shift to deity Dian (Heaven)
Han quest for immortality
soul (hun), body (bo)

Paekche: adopted Buddhism in AD 384
Silla: indigenous shamanistic religious practices
Buddhism took hold in early 5th century AD

kami (deity or spirit) of Mount Miwa
Buddhism (impacted by Daoism, Confucianism, and geomancy)

Southeast Asia
Shiva, Vishnu, Hindu gods

Tianma Qucun i
Zheng Han
the Jade Gate

Isong Sansong

Mount Miwa

Central Asia
Krorãn Prakrit

Southeast Asia
Oc Eo
Angkor Borei
Banteay Choeu
Koh Ker
Sri Ksetra
Ku Bua
Nakhon Pathom
Ban Khu Muang
Sri Thep
Muang Phra Rot
Dong Si Mahosod
Dong Lakhon.
Po Nagar

Artifacts, structures, buildings, features
cong cylinders
jade figurines, rings, axes
oracle bones (turtle shells, scapulas)
ritual bronze vessels
bronze dagger-axes, battle-axes, knives
ceremonial jade yazhang blades and ge daggers
Shang chariots
Shang bronzes
Shang subterranean tombs with ramps
cowry shell currency
tomb of Fu Hao
Changjiang giant bronzes
nao bronze bells
Mai zun
Zhou vessels with inscriptions
tomb of Xi
pan and zun ritual serving vessels
Leigudun tomb 1, the tomb of the Marquis of Zeng (433 BC)
Qin canal system
Great Wall
Qin Shi Huangdi's tomb near Xi'an
life-sized terracotta replicas of the Emperor's armies
mortuary complex of Emperor Jingdi
jade wafer suits
tomb of Prince Liu Sheng
the Grand Canal

Koguryo university (established AD 372) to train administrators
Koguryo mounded tombs
Jian tomb 1, Tomb of the Dancers
Jian tomb 12
Anak tomb 3
Taesongdong tomb 38
iron ore deposits of Hwangsong-dong, Silla
Kyongju Tomb of the Heavenly Horse, Tomb of the Golden Crown, the Tomb of the Washing Vessel
Anapchi Lake
Mount P'algong sculptures
Kamun-sa temple
Hwangbok-sa temple
Sokkuram cave temple at Mount Toham

Mount Miwa kofun mounds
Saki kofun
the Shichishito sword
Isonokami shrine in Tenri
the Furuichi kofun group
the Ojin tomb
the Mozu kofun group
the Nintoku tomb
Yamato inscribed swords
the mound of Edafuna-yama
Asuka-dera temple
Shitenno-ji temple
Kiyomihara Palace

Southeast Asia
the Western Baray (reservoir)
Ak Yum, Prei Khmeng, and Phnom Rung temples
the Indratataka (reservoir)
Roluos group of buildings
Preah Ko and Bakong temples
the Bakheng
the Eastern Baray (reservoir)
Pre Rup and Eastern Mebon temples
Rajendrabhadresvara, a royal linga
Rajendresvara, a royal linga
Hemasringagiri temple (the Mountain with the Golden Summits)
temple of the Phimeanakas
the Western Mebon temple
Angkor Wat
Angkor Thom
the Bayon temple
temple of Neak Pean/Rajasri
Shitthaung Pagoda (Arakan)
Shwesandaw temple (Pyu)
temple of the linga Bhadresvara (Champa)

Terms, concepts
early complex mortuary rituals
ancestor worship
mounded tombs
stamped-earth construction
human sacrifices
defended settlements
hierarchical social structure
trade with steppes, Bactria
piece-mold bronze casting technique
attached craft specialists in bronze, bone, and ceramic
craft workshops
divine ancestry of rulers
Zhou arsenal of armor, halberds, and cast bronze swords; mass production of weaponry at the end of the Warring States period.
Zhou "ritual revolution"
Ba system: vassal rulers with fealty to a paramount ruler
the Ba state: Zheng, Qi, Jin, or Yue
development of a feudal system
Warring states: absolutism, totalitarianism, and self-interest of rulers; powerful ministers, bureaucrats; advances in military strategy, annihilation of states and ruling houses
iron technology, advances in agriculture led to permanent armies
urban development, foundation of new cities
Qin: 36 commanderies (provinces) subdivided into counties ruled by appointed governors
small seal script (xiaozhuan)
Han China: central training institution for government service, taxation, Confucian ethics, Chancellor, the Imperial Counselor, and the Commander of the Armed Forces, nine ministries, ranked royal harem
Western Han territorial expansion; the Jade Gate
uprisings of the Red Eyebrows and the Yellow Turbans
militarism, conscription, Northern Army, militia reserves
Han agriculture: censuses, rise in population, policies to encourage agricultural production, resettlement, irrigation, iron plows, sickles, scythes, spades, hoes, and seed drills.
the Silk Road
the Southeast Asian Maritime Silk Road

Kaya: iron export, militarism, cavalry, trade with Scythia, Russia, Japan, China
Paekche: influence over Japan, introduced Buddhism
Silla: most powerful, conquered Kaya, Koguryo, and Paekche during the 6th and 7th centuries AD
Kosogan ("big man"), Maripkan ("hereditary king")
Silla succession incorporated queens
Silla ancestral ranks songgol ("holy bone"), chingol ("true bone")

Yamato okimi (great kings)
Yamato royal burial mounds (kofun)
clay haniwa, funerary representations of houses, people, and animals
Yamato: AD 527 insurrection in Kyushu, and rebellion against Yamato power in Korea/Kaya region; AD 585 civil war; lack of primogeniture, proliferation of claimants
the Asuka Enlightenment: writing based on Chinese script, construction of palace capitals, Buddhism, the Twelve Ranks, the Seventeen Injunctions
the Taika Reforms: census and taxes
the Taiho Code

Southeast Asia
chakravartin, the Angkorian supreme king on earth
stupas (domed Buddhist buildings) caityas (barrel-vaulted shrines) and monasteries

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