Zhou dynasty

The Zhou dynasty (Chinese: ; pinyin: Zhōu [ʈʂóu]; Old Chinese (B&S): *tiw[4]) was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang dynasty and preceded the Qin dynasty. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history (790 years). The military control of China by the royal house, surnamed Ji, lasted initially from 1046 until 771 BC for a period known as the Western Zhou, and the political sphere of influence it created continued well into the Eastern Zhou period for another 500 years.

c. 1046 BC  256 BC
Population concentration and boundaries of the Western Zhou dynasty (1050–771 BC) in China
Common languagesOld Chinese
Chinese folk religion, Ancestor worship, Heaven worship[2]
 c. 1046–1043 BC
King Wu
 781–771 BC
King You
 770–720 BC
King Ping
 314–256 BC
King Nan
c. 1046 BC 
841–828 BC
 Relocation to Wangcheng
771 BC
 Deposition of King Nan by Qin
 256 BC
 Fall of the last Zhou holdouts[3]
249 BC
 273 BC
 230 BC
CurrencyMostly spade coins and knife coins
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Shang dynasty
Predynastic Zhou
Qin dynasty
Today part ofChina
"Zhou" in ancient bronze script (top), seal script (middle), and regular script (bottom) Chinese characters
Hanyu PinyinZhōu
Neolithic c. 8500 – c. 2070 BC
Xia c. 2070 – c. 1600 BC
Shang c. 1600 – c. 1046 BC
Zhou c. 1046 – 256 BC
 Western Zhou
 Eastern Zhou
   Spring and Autumn
   Warring States
Qin 221–207 BC
Han 202 BC – 220 AD
  Western Han
  Eastern Han
Three Kingdoms 220–280
  Wei, Shu and Wu
Jin 266–420
  Western Jin
  Eastern Jin Sixteen Kingdoms
Northern and Southern dynasties
Sui 581–618
Tang 618–907
Five Dynasties and
Ten Kingdoms

Liao 916–1125
Song 960–1279
  Northern Song Western Xia
  Southern Song Jin Western Liao
Yuan 1271–1368
Ming 1368–1644
Qing 1636–1912
Republic of China on the mainland 1912–1949
People's Republic of China 1949–present
Republic of China in Taiwan 1949–present

During the Zhou dynasty, centralized power decreased throughout the Spring and Autumn period until the Warring States period in the last two centuries of the dynasty. In the latter period, the Zhou court had little control over its constituent states that were at war with each other until the Qin state consolidated power and formed the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. The Zhou dynasty had formally collapsed only 35 years earlier, although the dynasty had only nominal power at that point.

This period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronzeware making.[5] The latter period of the Zhou dynasty is also famous for the beginnings of three major Chinese philosophies: Confucianism, Taoism and Legalism. The Zhou dynasty also spans the period in which the written script evolved from the oracle script and bronze script into the seal script, and then finally into an almost-modern form with the use of an archaic clerical script that emerged during the late Warring States period.