The influence of geography on the development of early Chinese civilization had both advantages and disadvantages. On the whole, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. So how did the geography of china affect the development of early civilization there?
Several other major ancient civilizations in the world, the Middle Eastern civilizations of the two river basins, ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, and ancient Rome, influenced and interacted with each other a lot. Why?
When we look at the map, we will understand the Mediterranean Sea between them, like an inner lake, which connects them.
Among the ancient civilizations of the world, only China has the highest degree of isolation from other civilizations.
To the southwest and WestWest of China, a series of the highest mountains in the world.
To the east, the vast Pacific Ocean.
To the north and northwest, deserts and steppes.
As if this isolation level was not enough, the Chinese later built a Great Wall in the north to strengthen the isolation from the outside world.
This isolation was so effective that Xuanzang had to walk for ten years to go to India; Gan Ying went to the Roman Empire and returned without success.
This geographical isolation had two effects.
The first effect is that Chinese civilization was not the first to develop among several ancient civilizations.
In the history of the world, Chinese civilization is not the oldest.
The oldest civilization globally is the Mesopotamian civilization that emerged in the two river valleys around 3500 BCE.
After taking root in the Mesopotamian plains, civilization began to spread in other directions in Eurasia, one after another.
The Egyptian civilization began around 3000 B.C. The Indus Valley civilization began around 2500 BC. They were both distinctly influenced by the Mesopotamian civilization.
The civilization of the Yellow River basin in China, the Erlitou civilization, began around 1750 BCE.
Because of the geographical isolation of China, Chinese culture can be considered to have originated largely independently.
Because some elements of Middle Eastern civilization, such as bronze, chariots, cattle, and sheep, spread to China when some of the basic characteristics of Chinese culture were already in place.
“What caused Chinese culture to be different from the rest of the world did have a great deal to do with China’s geography. …… Because China was so far away from other early civilization centers in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia, it was difficult to reach them, and there were few connections between them.”
But there is another feature of Chinese geography that makes the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River ideal for agricultural civilizations’ development.
The fact that all four major ancient human civilizations emerged in the great river basins shows the importance of irrigated agriculture in civilizations’ formation.
And the Yellow River basin is the best condition among the four big river basins.
Because of the loose structure of the loess, it is naturally suitable for farming.
People could open up large areas of arable land simply by using primitive stone knives and wooden plows.
Therefore, the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River in China are a perfect “womb” for the development of civilization.
Therefore, Chinese civilization had the advantage of being a latecomer, and once developed faster than other civilizations, reaching maturity very early.
The emergence of agricultural civilization in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River developed very fast.
Based on the highly developed agricultural civilization, China’s political civilization also developed rapidly.
China was the first country in the world to implement feudalism on a large scale.
The “feudal system” established in China was not only one or two thousand years earlier than that of Europe but also more orderly in form.
The bronze civilization of China, although a latecomer, was far more brilliant than those of other regions. This is evident in the museums.
The bronze artifacts from the Tomb of Zeng Houyi in the Hubei Provincial Museum are so delicate and elaborate that bronze artifacts from other regions cannot match them.
During the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States Periods, the Hundred Schools of Thought emerged in China, which early on established the basic Chinese culture pattern.
By the Qin Dynasty, China was the first to create the largest county monarchy in human history, establishing the strictest and most sophisticated control of the state over its people.
As a result, Chinese history is characterized by the early emergence of “modern” society.
The bureaucratic system that began in the Qin dynasty has, over the centuries, taken on the characteristics of modern Western bureaucracy: clearly defined positions, merit-based appointments, clear compensation structures, functional specialization, a highly developed formal communication system, detailed regulations on the proper route for the exercise of power, regular reporting duties, formal monitoring organizations, and so on,” says Li Kanu. “
The “rational design” of Qin politics, including the “county system,” codified control, and the official civil system, “is very ‘modern’ creations, if you look at them from the perspective of Western history,” says Li Zero. If we look at it from the perspective of Western history, it is a very ‘modern creation,’ far more ‘advanced’ than the rest of the world. These things did not appear in the WestWest until more than a thousand years later.
Almost everything that determines Chinese culture’s character, from its cultural identity to its political institutions, was fully developed two thousand years ago.
Francis Fukuyama agrees that the modern state emerged in China much earlier than in other regions. “China was the first world civilization to create a modern state.”
However, after the unification of China by Qin Shi Huang, the pace of China’s evolution suddenly slowed down.
From the Qin Dynasty to the late Qing Dynasty, Chinese thought and culture followed the pre-Qin sons and daughters’ interpretation, with few original and new achievements.
China’s political system also followed the Qin system from generation to generation, without essential changes.
As a result, Chinese history is characterized by a continuous cycle of rising and falling rule and chaos.
The early maturity of Chinese civilization was due to its unique geographical environment.
The later stability of Chinese civilization was also due to the superior geographical environment.
After the basic maturation of civilization, the semi-enclosed geographical environment and the neighboring peoples’ general cultural backwardness allowed early Chinese civilization to encounter few challenges.
Thus, it lost the incentive to explore other forms of civilization than agricultural civilization and the pressure to change itself dramatically.
The above is how did the geography of china affect the development of early civilization there. On the whole, geography had a positive and favorable impact on early Chinese civilization.