The Shang Dynasty is grouped into The Three Dynasties Period of Chinese history. Expanding from the Cradle of Civilization, the Yellow River, the Shang would eventually extend south of the Xangtze River and north toward the modern Korean Peninsula. The Shang followed the legendary Xia Dynasty around 1600 BCE. The final Xia emperor had become tyrannical and corrupt giving Cheng Tang, the dynasty’s founder, the impetus to take control. The dynasty was primarily a slave society constantly at war with neighboring kingdoms often sending armies of 13,000 to wage war. These armies would return with up to 30,000 prisoners of war who would be used for either slavery or ritual sacrifice.
The Shang is particularly important because of its creation a writing system that has all the foundations of modern Chinese characters with few changes. The system also allowed for the beginning of relatively expansive and stratified government the nation became accustomed to. This writing system as well as history of the Shang is chronicled on the bones of oxen and tortoise shells, which were used by oracles to determine the answers to queries the king posed. Additionally, the Shang greatly enhanced the bronze working capabilities of the Chinese creating chariots to mobilize troops faster than their enemies could. Ultimately, after about 30 kings, the dynasty fell around 1050 BCE when the Zhou insisted the Shang king was an evil, indulgent drunk who heaven was opposed to.