Founded by King Tang when he overthrew the tyrannical Xia King Jie at the Battle of Mingtiao, the Shang dynasty lasted for over 600 years and was ruled by 30 emperors. Tang introduced a period of stability and prosperity, setting a fine example of leadership for future rulers. The Shang founded a succession of capital cities; Erlitou is thought to be the first capital; Anyang (Yin) was the capital from the 15th century BCE. Under Shang rule, religious thought and ritual became more elaborate, along with the practice of using ‘oracle bones’ for the purposes of divination and the development of a calendar system. At its height, Shang civilization was famous for the splendour of its culture and the skill of its craftsmen, who specialized in bronze casting, jade carving, pottery, textile artistry, writing and the emergence of musical instruments. Over time, however, some states and regions broke away and sought independence; some emperors were less popular and their own families even tried to overthrow them. The last Shang king, Zhou (Xin), lived an immoral life, neglected his duties and tortured his people. Taking advantage of Shang disunity, King Wu (meaning ‘martial’) of the province Zhou overthrew him at the Battle of Muye in 1046 BCE.
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