Akhenaten, known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV, was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty who ruled for 17 years and died in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, sometimes described as monolatristic, henotheistic, or quasi-monotheistic. An early inscription likens the Aten to the sun as compared to stars, official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods. Akhenaten tried to shift his culture from Egypt's traditional religion, but the shifts were not accepted. After his death, his monuments were dismantled and hidden, his statues were destroyed, his name excluded from the king lists. Traditional religious practice was restored, when some dozen years rulers without clear rights of succession from the 18th Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as "the enemy" or "that criminal" in archival records.
He was all but lost from history until the discovery during the 19th century of the site of Akhetaten, the city he built and designed for the worship of Aten, at Amarna. Early excavations at Amarna by Flinders Petrie sparked interest in the enigmatic pharaoh, a mummy found in the tomb KV55, unearthed in 1907 in a dig led by Edward R. Ayrton, is that of Akhenaten. DNA analysis has determined that the man buried in KV55 is the father of King Tutankhamun, but its identification as Akhenaten has been questioned. Modern interest in Akhenaten and his queen Nefertiti comes from his connection with Tutankhamun from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, from ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish; the future Akhenaten was a younger son of Chief Queen Tiye. The eldest son Crown Prince Thutmose was recognized as the heir of Amenhotep III but he died young and the next in line for the throne was a prince named Amenhotep. There is much controversy around whether Amenhotep IV succeeded to the throne on the death of his father Amenhotep III or whether there was a coregency.
Current literature by Eric Cline, Nicholas Reeves, Peter Dorman and other scholars comes out against the establishment of a long coregency between the two rulers and in favour of either no coregency or a brief one lasting one to two years at the most. Other literature by Donald Redford, William Murnane, Alan Gardiner and more by Lawrence Berman in 1998 contests the view of any coregency whatsoever between Akhenaten and his father. In February 2014, the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities announced what it called conclusive evidence that Akhenaten shared power with his father for at least 8 years; the evidence came from the inscriptions found in the Luxor tomb of Vizier Amenhotep-Huy. A team of Spanish archeologists has been working at this tomb. Amenhotep IV was crowned in Thebes and there he started a building program, he decorated the southern entrance to the precincts of the temple of Amun-Re with scenes of his worshiping Re-Harakhti. He soon decreed the construction of a temple dedicated to the Aten in Eastern Karnak.
This Temple of Amenhotep IV was called the Gempaaten. The Gempaaten consisted of a series of buildings, including a palace and a structure called the Hwt Benben, dedicated to Queen Nefertiti. Other Aten temples constructed at Karnak during this time include the Rud-menu and the Teni-menu, which may have been constructed near the Ninth Pylon. During this time he did not repress the worship of Amun, the High Priest of Amun was still active in the fourth year of his reign; the king appears as Amenhotep IV in the tombs of some of the nobles in Thebes: Kheruef and the tomb of Parennefer. In the tomb of Ramose, Amenhotep IV appears on the west wall in the traditional style, seated on a throne with Ramose appearing before the king. On the other side of the doorway, Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti are shown in the window of appearance, with the Aten depicted as the sun disc. In the Theban tomb of Parennefer, Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti are seated on a throne with the sun disk depicted over the king and queen.
Among the latter-known documents referring to Amenhotep IV are two copies of a letter from the Steward Of Memphis Apy to the pharaoh. The documents were found in Gurob and are dated to regnal year 5, third month of the Growing Season, day 19. On day 13, Month 8, in the fifth year of his reign, the king arrived at the site of the new city Akhetaten. A month before that Amenhotep IV had changed his name to Akhenaten. Amenhotep IV changed most of his 5 fold titulary in year 5 of his reign; the only name he kept was his throne name of Neferkheperure. Akhenaton placed much emphasis on the worship of the Egyptian sun which can be seen from many artistic depictions of a connection between the Pharoh and his family; some debate has focused on the extent. As time drew on, he revised the names of the Aten, other religious language, to exclude references to other gods; some of his court changed t
Aten is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, an aspect of the god Ra. The deified Aten is the focus of the monotheistic religion of Atenism established by Amenhotep IV, who took the name Akhenaten in worship and recognition of Aten. In his poem "Great Hymn to the Aten", Akhenaten praises Aten as the creator, giver of life, nurturing spirit of the world. Aten is mentioned in the Book of the Dead; the worship of Aten was eradicated by Horemheb. The first known reference to Aten the sun-disk as a deity is in The Story of Sinuhe from the 12th dynasty, in which the deceased king is described as rising as a god to the heavens and uniting with the sun-disk, the divine body merging with its maker. By analogy, the term "silver aten" was sometimes used to refer to the moon; the solar Aten was extensively worshipped as a god in the reign of Amenhotep III when it was depicted as a falcon-headed man much like Ra. In the reign of Amenhotep III's successor, Amenhotep IV, the Aten became the central god of the Egyptian state religion, Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten to reflect his close link with the new supreme deity.
The full title of Akhenaten's god was "Ra-Horakhty who rejoices in the horizon, in his Name as the Light, in the sun disc." This lengthy name was shortened to Ra-Horus-Aten or just Aten in many texts, but the god of Akhenaten raised to supremacy is considered a synthesis of ancient gods viewed in a new and different way. The god is considered to be both masculine and feminine simultaneously. All creation was thought to exist within the god. In particular, the god was not depicted in anthropomorphic form, but as rays of light extending from the sun's disk. Furthermore, the god's name came to be written within a cartouche, along with the titles given to a Pharaoh, another break with ancient tradition. Ra-Horus, more referred to as Ra-Horakhty, is a synthesis of two other gods, both of which are attested from early on. During the Amarna period, this synthesis was seen as the invisible source of energy of the sun god, of which the visible manifestation was the Aten, the solar disk, thus Ra-Horus-Aten was a development of old ideas.
The real change, as some see it, was the apparent abandonment of all other gods Amun-Ra, prohibition of idolatry, the debatable introduction of quasi-monotheism by Akhenaten. The syncretism is apparent in the Great Hymn to the Aten in which Re-Herakhty and Aten are merged into the creator god. Others see Akhenaten as a practitioner of an Aten monolatry, as he did not deny the existence of other gods. Other scholars call the religion henotheistic. In the Old Kingdom Egypt, the word "Aten" is a noun meaning "disc" which referred to anything flat and circular. Only in Middle Kingdom Egypt, did it come to be the name of a god during Akhenaten's rule. Aten's name is displayed in two cartouches, carrying royal implications in the framework around the name; some have interpreted this to mean that Akhenaten was the embodiment of Aten, the worship of Aten is directly worship of Akhenaten. Principles of Aten's religion were recorded on the rock tomb walls of Akhetaten. In the religion of Aten, night is a time to fear.
Work is done best when Aten, is present. Aten cares for every creature, created a Nile river in the sky for the Syrians. Aten created all people; the rays of the sun disk only holds out life to the royal family. There is only one known instance of the Aten talking, "said by the'Living Aten': my rays illuminate..."When a good person dies, they continue to live in the City of Light for the dead in Akhetaten. The conditions are the same after death; the explanation as to why Aten could not be represented was that Aten was beyond creation. Thus the scenes of gods carved in stone depicted animals and human forms, now showed Aten as an orb above with life-giving rays stretching toward the royal figure; the king was depicted singularly in relation to divine power. This power transcended animal form. Akhenaten represented himself not as a god, but as a son of Aten, shifting the previous methods of pharaohs claiming to be the embodiment of Horus; this contributes to the belief that Atenism should be considered a monotheistic religion where "the living Aten beside whom there is no other.
The cult centre of Aten was at the new city Akhetaten. The principles of Aten's cult were recorded on the rock walls of tombs of Tall al-Amarnah. Different from other ancient Egyptian temples, temples of Aten were colorful and open-roofed to allow the rays of the sun. Doorways had raised thresholds. No statues of Aten were allowed. However, these were replaced by functionally equivalent representations of Akhenaten and his family venerating the Aten and receiving the ankh from him. Priests had less to do since offerings were limited, oracles were not needed. Temples of Aten did not collect tax. Elite women were
13th century BC
The 13th century BC was the period from 1300 to 1201 BC. 1300 BC: Cemetery H culture comes to an end in the Indus Valley. 1292 BC: End of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, start of the Nineteenth Dynasty. 1282 BC: Pandion II, legendary King of Athens, dies after a nominal reign of 25 years. He only reigned in Megara while Athens and the rest of Attica were under the control of an alliance of Nobles led by his uncle Metion and his sons, his four sons lead a successful military campaign to regain the throne. Aegeus becomes King of Athens, Nisos reigns in Megara, Lykos in Euboea and Pallas in southern Attica. 1279 BC: Ramesses II becomes leader of Ancient Egypt. 1278 BC: Seti I dies, 1 year after his son, Ramesses II is crowned. 1274 BC: The Battle of Kadesh in Syria. 1258 BC: Ramses II, king of ancient Egypt, Hattusilis III, king of the Hittites, sign the earliest known peace treaty. 1251 BC: A solar eclipse on this date might mark the birth of legendary Heracles at Thebes, Greece. C. 1250 BC: Approximately 4,000 men fight a battle at a causeway over the Tollense valley in Northern Germany, the largest prehistoric battle north of the Alps known so far.
1250 BC: Wu Ding King of Shang Dynasty to 1192 BC. 1250 BC: The Lion Gate at Mycene is constructed. C. 1230 BC: Aegeus, legendary King of Athens, receives a false message that his designated heir Theseus, his son by Aethra of Troezena, is dead. Theseus had been sent to his overlord Minos of Crete as an offering to the Minotaur. Medus, Aegeus' only other son, had been exiled in Asia and would become legendary ancestor to the Medes. Believing himself without heirs the King commits suicide after a reign of 48 years, he is succeeded by Theseus, who still lives. The Aegean Sea is named in his honor. 1213 BC: Theseus, legendary King of Athens, is deposed and succeeded by Menestheus, great-grandson of Erechtheus and second cousin of Theseus' father Aegeus. Menestheus is assisted by Castor and Polydeuces of Sparta, who want to reclaim their sister Helen from her first husband Theseus; the latter seeks refuge in Skyros, whose King Lycomedes is ally. Lycomedes, considers his visitor a threat to the throne and proceeds to assassinate him.
1212 BC: Death of Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II. 1208 BC: Pharaoh Merneptah defeats a Libyan invasion. 1206 BC: Approximate starting date of Bronze age collapse, a period of migration and destruction in the eastern Mediterranean and Near East. 1204 BC: Theseus, legendary King of Athens, is deposed after a reign of 30 years and succeeded by Menestheus, great-grandson of Erichthonius II of Athens and second cousin of Theseus' father Aegeus. Menestheus is assisted by Castor and Polydeuces of Sparta, who want to reclaim their sister Helen from her first husband Theseus. Theseus seeks refuge in Skyros, whose King Lycomedes is ally. Lycomedes, considers his visitor a threat to the throne and proceeds assassinates him. C. 1200 BC: Earliest writing that survived exists in Ancient China. C. 1200 BC: Chariots appear in Ancient China. C. 1200 BC: Start of Iron Age in Near East, eastern Mediterranean, India. C. 1200 BC: Collapse of Hittite power in Anatolia with the destruction of their capital Hattusa. C. 1200 BC: Massive migrations of people around the Mediterranean and the Middle-East.
See Sea People for more information. C. 1200 BC: Aramaic nomads and Chaldeans become a big threat to the former Babylonian and Assyrian Empire. C. 1200 BC: Migration and expansion of Dorian Greeks. Destruction of Mycenaean city Pylos. C. 1200 BC: The proto-Scythian Srubna culture expands from the lower Volga region to cover the whole of the North Pontic area. C. 1200 BC: The Cimmerians start settling the steppes of southern Russia?. c. 1200 BC: Olmec culture starts and thrives in Mesoamerica. C. 1200 BC: San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán starts to flourish. C. 1200 BC: Ancient Pueblo Peoples civilization in North America. Although many human societies were literate in this period, some individual persons mentioned in this article ought to be considered legendary rather than historical. 1251 BC—A lunar eclipse might mark the birth of Hercules c. 1225 BC—Birth of legendary Helen to King Tyndareus of Sparta and his wife Leda 1212 BC—Death of Ramesses II of Egypt Moses—A Hebrew prophet found in the Old Testament in the Bible called the Exodus.
Merneptah, Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt Amenmesse, Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt Pan Geng of Shang dynasty China See: List of sovereign states in the 13th century BC
Pharaoh is the common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the First Dynasty until the annexation of Egypt by the Roman Empire in 30 BCE, although the actual term "Pharaoh" was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until Merneptah, c. 1200 BCE. In the early dynasty, ancient Egyptian kings used to have up to three titles, the Horus, the Sedge and Bee name, the Two Ladies name; the Golden Horus and nomen and prenomen titles were added. In Egyptian society, religion was central to everyday life. One of the roles of the pharaoh was as an intermediary between the people; the pharaoh thus deputised for the gods. He owned all of the land in Egypt, enacted laws, collected taxes, defended Egypt from invaders as the commander-in-chief of the army. Religiously, the pharaoh chose the sites of new temples, he was responsible for maintaining Maat, or cosmic order and justice, part of this included going to war when necessary to defend the country or attacking others when it was believed that this would contribute to Maat, such as to obtain resources.
During the early days prior to the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, the Deshret or the "Red Crown", was a representation of the Kingdom of Lower Egypt, while the Hedjet, the "White Crown", was worn by the kings of the kingdom of upper Egypt. After the unification of both kingdoms into one united Egypt, the Pschent, the combination of both the red and white crowns was the official crown of kings. With time new headdresses were introduced during different dynasties like the Khat, Atef, Hemhem crown, Khepresh. At times, it was depicted that a combination of these crowns would be worn together; the word pharaoh derives from the Egyptian compound pr ꜥꜣ, /ˌpaɾuwˈʕaʀ/ "great house", written with the two biliteral hieroglyphs pr "house" and ꜥꜣ "column", here meaning "great" or "high". It was used only in larger phrases such as smr pr-ꜥꜣ "Courtier of the High House", with specific reference to the buildings of the court or palace. From the Twelfth Dynasty onward, the word appears in a wish formula "Great House, May it Live, be in Health", but again only with reference to the royal palace and not the person.
Sometime during the era of the New Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period, pharaoh became the form of address for a person, king. The earliest confirmed instance where pr ꜥꜣ is used to address the ruler is in a letter to Akhenaten, addressed to "Great House, L, W, H, the Lord". However, there is a possibility that the title pr ꜥꜣ was applied to Thutmose III, depending on whether an inscription on the Temple of Armant can be confirmed to refer to that king. During the Eighteenth Dynasty the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential designation of the ruler. About the late Twenty-first Dynasty, instead of being used alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles before the ruler's name, from the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty it was, at least in ordinary usage, the only epithet prefixed to the royal appellative. From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr-ꜥꜣ on its own was used as as ḥm, "Majesty"; the term, evolved from a word referring to a building to a respectful designation for the ruler by the Twenty-Second Dynasty and Twenty-third Dynasty.
For instance, the first dated appearance of the title pharaoh being attached to a ruler's name occurs in Year 17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly Annals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun priesthood is dated to the reign of Pharaoh Siamun; this new practice was continued under his successor Psusennes II and the Twenty-second Dynasty kings. For instance, the Large Dakhla stela is dated to Year 5 of king "Pharaoh Shoshenq, beloved of Amun", whom all Egyptologists concur was Shoshenq I—the founder of the Twenty-second Dynasty—including Alan Gardiner in his original 1933 publication of this stela. Shoshenq I was the second successor of Siamun. Meanwhile, the old custom of referring to the sovereign as pr-ˤ3 continued in traditional Egyptian narratives. By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed to have been pronounced * whence Herodotus derived the name of one of the Egyptian kings, Koine Greek: Φερων. In the Hebrew Bible, the title occurs as Hebrew: פרעה.
Pharaō, in Late Latin pharaō, both -n stem nouns. The Qur'an spells it Arabic: فرعون firʿawn with n; the Arabic combines the original ayin from Egyptian along with the -n ending from Greek. In English, it was at first spelled "Pharao", but the translators of the King James Bible revived "Pharaoh" with "h" from the Hebrew. Meanwhile, in Egypt itself, * evolved into Sahidic Coptic ⲡⲣ̅ⲣⲟ pərro and ərro by mistaking p- as the definite article "the". Other notable epithets are nswt, translated to "king". Sceptres and staves were a general sign of authority in ancient Egypt. One of the earliest royal scepters was discovered in the tomb of Khasekhemwy in Abydos. Kings were known to carry a staff, Pharaoh Anedjib is shown on stone vessels carrying a so-called mks-staff; the scepter with the longest history seems to be the heqa-sceptre, sometimes described as the shepherd's crook. The earli
Thebes, known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometers south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the main city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome and was the capital of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom, it was close to the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was the most venerated city of ancient Egypt during its heyday; the site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and the city proper was situated. The Egyptian name for Thebes was wꜣs.t, "City of the wꜣs", the sceptre of the pharaohs, a long staff with an animal's head and a forked base. From the end of the New Kingdom, Thebes was known in Egyptian as niwt-'imn, the "City of Amun", the chief of the Theban Triad of deities whose other members were Mut and Khonsu; this name of Thebes appears in the Bible as the "Nōʼ ʼĀmôn" in the Book of Nahum and as "No" mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
Thebes is the latinised form of Koine Greek: Θῆβαι, the hellenized form of the Demotic Egyptian ta Pe, from earlier ta Opet. This was the local name not for the city itself but for the Karnak temple complex on the northeast bank of the city; as early as Homer's Iliad, the Greeks distinguished the Egyptian Thebes as "Thebes of the Hundred Gates" or "Hundred-Gated Thebes", as opposed to the "Thebes of the Seven Gates" in Boeotia, Greece. In the interpretatio graeca, Amun was rendered as Zeus Ammon; the name was therefore translated into Greek as Diospolis, "City of Zeus". To distinguish it from the numerous other cities by this name, it was known as the "Great Diospolis"; the Greek names came into wider use after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, when the country came to be ruled by the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty. Thebes was located along the banks of the Nile River in the middle part of Upper Egypt about 800 km from the Delta, it was built on the alluvial plains of the Nile Valley which follows a great bend of the Nile.
As a natural consequence, the city was laid in a northeast-southwest axis parallel to the contemporary river channel. Thebes had an area of 93 km2 which included parts of the Theban Hills in the west that culminates at the sacred 420-meter al-Qurn. In the east lies the mountainous Eastern Desert with its wadis draining into the valley. Significant among these wadis is Wadi Hammamat near Thebes, it was used as an overland trade route going to the Red Sea coast. In the fourth Upper Egyptian nome, Thebes was found to have neighboring towns such as Per-Hathor, Djerty, Iuny and Imiotru. According to George Modelski, Thebes had about 40,000 inhabitants in 2000 BC. By 1800 BC, the population of Memphis was down to about 30,000, making Thebes the largest city in Egypt at the time. Historian Ian Morris estimated that by 1500 BC, Thebes may have grown to be the largest city in the world, with a population of about 75,000, a position which it held until about 900 BC, when it was surpassed by Nimrud; the archaeological remains of Thebes offer a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.
The Greek poet Homer extolled the wealth of Thebes in the Iliad, Book 9: "... in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes." More than sixty annual festivals were celebrated in Thebes. The major festivals among these according to the Edfu Geographical Text were: the Beautiful Feast of Opet, the Khoiak, Festival of I Shemu, Festival of II Shemu. Another popular festivity was the halloween-like Beautiful Festival of the Valley. Thebes was inhabited from around 3200 BC, it was the eponymous capital of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. At this time it was still a small trading post while Memphis served as the royal residence of Old Kingdom pharaohs. Although no buildings survive in Thebes older than the portions of the Karnak temple complex, which may date from the Middle Kingdom, the lower part of a statue of Pharaoh Nyuserre of the 5th Dynasty has been found in Karnak. Another statue, dedicated by the 12th Dynasty king Senusret may have been usurped and re-used, since the statue bears a cartouche of Nyuserre on its belt.
Since seven rulers of the 4th to 6th Dynasties appear on the Karnak king list at the least there was a temple in the Theban area which dated to the Old Kingdom. By 2160 BC, a new line of pharaohs consolidated Lower Egypt and northern parts of Upper Egypt from their capital in Herakleopolis Magna. A rival line based at Thebes ruled the remaining part of Upper Egypt; the Theban rulers were descendants of the prince of Thebes, Intef the Elder. His probable grandson Intef I was the first of the family to claim in life a partial pharaonic titulary, though his power did not extend much further than the general Theban region. By c. 2050 BC, Intef III's son Mentuhotep II, took the Herakleopolitans by force and reunited Egypt once again under one ruler, thereby starting the period now known as the Middle Kingdom. Mentuhotep II ruled for 51 years and built the first mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri, which most served as the inspiration for the and larger temple built next to it by Hat
15th century BC
The 15th century BC is a century which lasted from 1500 BC to 1401 BC. 1504 BC – 1492 BC: Egypt conquers Nubia and the Levant. 1500 BC – 1400 BC: The Rigveda was composed around this time. 1500 BC – 1400 BC: The Battle of the Ten Kings took place around this time. 1500 BC: Coalescence of a number of cultural traits including undecorated pottery, megalithic burials, millet-bean-rice agriculture indicate the beginning of the Mumun Pottery Period in the Korean peninsula. C. 1490 BC: Cranaus, legendary King of Athens, is deposed after a reign of 10 years by his son-in-law Amphictyon of Thessaly, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha. 1487 BC: Amphictyon, son of Deucalion and Pyrrha and legendary King of Athens, dies after a reign of 10 years and is succeeded by Erichthonius I of Athens, a grandson of Cranaus. C. 1480 BC: Queen Hatshepsut succeeded by her stepson and nephew Thutmosis III. Period of greatest Egyptian expansion. C. 1469 BC: In the Battle of Megiddo, Egypt defeats Canaan. C. 1460 BC: The Kassites overrun Babylonia and found a dynasty there that lasts for 576 years and nine months.
1437 BC: Legendary King Erichthonius I of Athens dies after a reign of 50 years and is succeeded by his son Pandion I. 1430 BC – 1160 BC: Hittite New Kingdom established. 1430 BC – 1178 BC: Beginning of Hittite empire. C. 1420 BC: Crete conquered by Mycenae—start of the Mycenaean period. First Linear B tablets. 1400 BC: In Crete the use of bronze helmets. 1400 BC: Palace of Minos destroyed by fire. C. 1400 BC: Linear A reaches its peak of popularity. C. 1400 BC: The height of the Canaanite town of Ugarit. Royal Palace of Ugarit is built. Myceneans conquers border of Anatolia; the Tumulus culture flourishes. Earliest traces of Olmec civilization. Hatshepsut of Egypt, female Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty Thutmose III of Egypt, Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty Amenhotep II, Pharaoh of Egypt The Shang Dynasty Chinese capital city at Ao had massive defensive walls of 20 metres in width at the base and enclosed an area of some 2,100 square yards. See: List of sovereign states in the 15th century BC
Yinxu is the site of one of the ancient and major historical capitals of China. It is the source of the archeological discovery of oracle bones and oracle bone script, which resulted in the identification of the earliest known Chinese writing; the archeological remnants known as Yinxu represent the ancient city of Yin, the last capital of China's Shang dynasty which existed through eight generations for 255 years, through the reign of 12 kings. Yinxu was discovered, or rediscovered, in 1899, it is now one of China's oldest and largest archeological sites, has been selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yinxu is located in northernmost Henan province near the modern city of Anyang, near the Hebei and Shanxi province borders. Public access to the site is permitted. According to the 2nd century Shuowen Jiezi dictionary, the Chinese character "殷" referred to "vibrant music-making". Although used throughout written history to refer to both the Shang dynasty and its final capital, the name Yīn appears to have not been used in this way until the succeeding Zhou dynasty.
In particular, the name does not appear in the oracle bones, which refer to the state as Shāng, its final capital as Dàyì Shāng. Among surviving ancient Chinese historical documents, Yin is described as the final capital of the Shang dynasty. There is some disagreement, though, as to. Both the Book of Documents, the Bamboo Annals state that Shang king Pan Geng moved the Shang capital to Yin; the Bamboo Annals state, more that during his reign Pan Geng moved the capital from Yān, to a site called Běimĕng, where it was renamed to Yīn. Regardless, Yin was established as the Shang capital by the time of Shang king Wu Ding. Wu Ding launched numerous military campaigns from this base against surrounding tribes, thus securing Shang rule and raising the dynasty to its historical zenith. According to the traditional accounts rulers became pleasure-seekers who took no interest in state affairs. King Zhòu, the last of the Shang dynasty kings, is remembered for his ruthlessness and debauchery, his autocratic laws alienated the nobility until King Wu of the Zhou dynasty was able to gain the support to rise up and overthrow the Shang.
The Zhou dynasty established their capital at Fenghao near modern-day Xi'an, Yīn was abandoned to fall into ruin. These ruins were mentioned by Sima Qian in his Records of the Grand Historian, described in some detail by Li Daoyuan in his Commentary to the River Classic, published during the Southern and Northern Dynasties period. Thereafter, the once-great city of Yīn was relegated to legend along with its founding dynasty until its rediscovery in the final years of the Qing dynasty. Yinxu is well known for its oracle bones, which were first recognized as containing ancient Chinese writing in 1899 by Wang Yirong, director of the Imperial Academy. One account of Wang's discovery was that he was suffering from malaria at the time and was prescribed Longgu 龍骨 at a traditional Chinese pharmacy, he noticed strange carvings on these bones and concluded that these could be samples of an ancient form of Chinese writing. News of the discovery of the oracle bones created a market for them among antiques collectors, led to multiple waves of illegal digs over several decades, with tens of thousands of pieces taken.
The source of the "dragon bones" was traced to the small village of Xiaotun, just outside Anyang. In 1910, noted scholar Luo Zhenyu affirmed that the area was the site of the last Shang dynasty capital. In 1917, Wang Guowei deciphered the oracle bone inscriptions of the names of the Shang kings and constructed a complete Shang genealogy; this matched that in the Records of the Grand Historian by Sima Qian, confirming the historical authenticity of the legendary Shang dynasty and the archaeological importance of Yinxu. However, the oracle bone inscriptions record the name of the state as Dàyìshāng or Shāngyì; the first official archeological excavations at Yinxu were led by the archeologist Li Ji of the Institute of History and Philosophy from 1928-37. They uncovered the remains of a royal palace, several royal tombs, more than 100,000 oracle bones that show the Shang had a well-structured script with a complete system of written signs. Since 1950 ongoing excavations by the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have uncovered evidence of stratification at the Hougang site, remains of palaces and temples, royal cemeteries, oracle bone inscriptions and bone workshops and the discovery of the Huanbei site on the north bank of the Huan River.
One of the largest and oldest sites of Chinese archaeology, excavations here have laid the foundation for work across the country. Four periods are recognized at the site, they correlate with oracle bone periods assigned by Dong Zuobin, royal reigns and dates assigned by the Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project as follows: At 30 km² this is the largest archaeological site in China and excavations have uncovered over 80 rammed-earth foundation sites including palaces, shrines and workshops. From these remains archaeologists have been able to confirm that this was t