Cantonese is a variety of Chinese spoken in the city of Guangzhou and its surrounding area in Southeastern China. It is the traditional prestige variety and standard form of Yue Chinese, one of the major subgroups of Chinese. In mainland China, it is the lingua franca of the province of Guangdong and neighbouring areas such as Guangxi, it is the official language of Hong Kong and Macau. Cantonese is widely spoken amongst Overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and throughout the Western world. While the term Cantonese refers to the prestige variety, it is used in a broader sense for the entire Yue subgroup of Chinese, including related but mutually unintelligible languages and dialects such as Taishanese; when Cantonese and the related Yuehai dialects are classified together, there are about 80 million total speakers. Cantonese is viewed as a vital and inseparable part of the cultural identity for its native speakers across large swaths of Southeastern China, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as in overseas communities.
Although Cantonese shares a lot of vocabulary with Mandarin, the two varieties are mutually unintelligible because of differences in pronunciation and lexicon. Sentence structure, in particular the placement of verbs, sometimes differs between the two varieties. A notable difference between Cantonese and Mandarin is; this results in the situation in which a Cantonese and a Mandarin text may look similar but are pronounced differently. In English, the term "Cantonese" can be ambiguous. Cantonese proper is the variety native to the city of Canton, the traditional English name of Guangzhou; this narrow sense may be specified as "Canton language" or "Guangzhou language". However, "Cantonese" may refer to the primary branch of Chinese that contains Cantonese proper as well as Taishanese and Gaoyang. In this article, "Cantonese" is used for Cantonese proper. Speakers called this variety "Canton speech" or "Guangzhou speech", although this term is now used outside Guangzhou. In Guangdong and Guangxi, people call it "provincial capital speech" or "plain speech".
Academically called "Canton prefecture speech". In Hong Kong and Macau, as well as among overseas Chinese communities, the language is referred to as "Guangdong speech" or "Canton Province speech", or as "Chinese". In mainland China, the term "Guangdong speech" is increasingly being used amongst both native and non-native speakers. Given the history of the development of the Yue languages and dialects during the Tang dynasty migrations to the region, in overseas Chinese communities, it is referred to as "Tang speech", given that the Cantonese people refer to themselves as "people of Tang". Due to its status as a prestige dialect among all the dialects of the Yue branch of Chinese varieties, it is called "Standard Cantonese"; the official languages of Hong Kong are English, as defined in the Hong Kong Basic Law. The Chinese language has many different varieties. Given the traditional predominance of Cantonese within Hong Kong, it is the de facto official spoken form of the Chinese language used in the Hong Kong Government and all courts and tribunals.
It is used as the medium of instruction in schools, alongside English. A similar situation exists in neighboring Macau, where Chinese is an official language alongside Portuguese; as in Hong Kong, Cantonese is the predominant spoken variety of Chinese used in everyday life and is thus the official form of Chinese used in the government. The Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and Macau is mutually intelligible with the Cantonese spoken in the mainland city of Guangzhou, although there exist some minor differences in accent and vocabulary. Cantonese first developed around the port city of Guangzhou in the Pearl River Delta region of southeastern China. Due to the city's long standing as an important cultural center, Cantonese emerged as the prestige dialect of the Yue varieties of Chinese in the Southern Song dynasty and its usage spread around most of what is now the provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi. Despite the cession of Macau to Portugal in 1557 and Hong Kong to Britain in 1842, the ethnic Chinese population of the two territories originated from the 19th and 20th century immigration from Guangzhou and surrounding areas, making Cantonese the predominant Chinese language in the territories.
On the mainland, Cantonese continued to serve as the lingua franca of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces after Mandarin was made the official language of the government by the Qing dynasty in the early 1900s. Cantonese remained a dominant and influential language in southeastern China until the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and its promotion of Standard Chinese as the sole official language of the nation throughout the last half of the 20th century, although its influence still remains strong within the region. While the Chinese government vehemently discourages the official use of all forms of Chinese except Standard Chinese, Cantonese enjoys a higher standing than other Chinese langua
Wei known as Cao Wei, was one of the three major states that competed for supremacy over China in the Three Kingdoms period. With its capital located at Xuchang, thereafter Luoyang, the state was established by Cao Pi in 220, based upon the foundations laid by his father, Cao Cao, towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty; the name "Wei" first became associated with Cao Cao when he was named the Duke of Wei by the Eastern Han government in 213, became the name of the state when Cao Pi proclaimed himself emperor in 220. Historians add the prefix "Cao" to distinguish it from other Chinese states known as "Wei", such as Wei of the Warring States period and Northern Wei of the Southern and Northern Dynasties; the authority of the ruling Cao family weakened in the aftermath of the deposal and execution of Cao Shuang and his siblings, the former being one of the regents for the third Wei emperor, Cao Fang, with state authority falling into the hands of Sima Yi, another Wei regent, his family, from 249 onwards.
The last Wei emperors would remain as puppet rulers under the control of the Simas until Sima Yi's grandson, Sima Yan, forced the last Wei ruler, Cao Huan, to abdicate the throne and established the Jin dynasty. Towards the end of the Eastern Han dynasty, northern China came under the control of Cao Cao, the chancellor to the last Han ruler, Emperor Xian. In 213, Emperor Xian granted Cao Cao the title of "Duke of Wei" and gave him ten cities as his dukedom; the area was named "Wei". At that time, the southern part of China was divided into two areas controlled by two other warlords, Liu Bei and Sun Quan. In 216, Emperor Xian promoted Cao Cao to the status of a vassal king — "King of Wei" — and granted him more territories. Cao Cao died on 15 March 220 and his vassal king title was inherited by his son Cao Pi; that year, on 11 December, Cao Pi forced Emperor Xian to abdicate in his favour and took over the throne, establishing the state of Wei. However, Liu Bei contested Cao Pi's claim to the Han throne and declared himself "Emperor of Shu Han" a year later.
Sun Quan was nominally a vassal king under Wei, but he declared independence in 222 and proclaimed himself "Emperor of Wu" in 229. Cao Pi ruled for six years until his death in 226 and was succeeded by his son, Cao Rui, who ruled until his death in 239. Throughout the reigns of Cao Pi and Cao Rui, Wei had been fighting numerous wars with its two rival states — Shu and Wu. Between 228 and 234, Zhuge Liang, the Shu chancellor and regent, led a series of five military campaigns to attack Wei's western borders, with the aim of conquering Chang'an, a strategic city which lay on the road to the Wei capital, Luoyang; the Shu invasions were repelled by the Wei armies led by the generals Cao Zhen, Sima Yi, Zhang He and others. On its southern and eastern borders, Wei engaged Wu in a series of armed conflicts throughout the 220s and 230s, including the battles of Dongkou and Shiting. However, most of the battles resulted in stalemate and neither side managed to expand its territory. After Guanqiu Jian failed to subjugate the Gongsun clan of the Liaodong commandery, it was Sima Yi who, in June 238, as the Grand Commandant, launched an invasion with 40,000 troops at the behest of Emperor Cao Rui against Liaodong, which at this point had been rooted under Gongsun control for 4 decades.
After a three-month long siege, involving some assistance from the Goguryeo Kingdom, Sima Yi managed to capture the capital city of Xiangping, resulting in the conquest of the commandery by late September of the same year. Around that time, as the Korean kingdom Goguryeo consolidated its power, it proceeded to conquer the territories on the Korean peninsula which were under Chinese rule. Goguryeo initiated the Goguryeo–Wei Wars in 242, trying to cut off Chinese access to its territories in Korea by attempting to take a Chinese fort. However, Wei defeated Goguryeo. Hwando was destroyed in revenge by Wei forces in 244. In 249, during the reign of Cao Rui's successor, Cao Fang, the regent Sima Yi seized state power from his co-regent, Cao Shuang, in a coup; this event marked the collapse of imperial authority in Wei, as Cao Fang's role had been reduced to a puppet ruler while Sima Yi wielded state power in his hands. Wang Ling, a Wei general, tried to rebel against Sima Yi, but was swiftly dealt with, took his own life.
Sima Yi died on 7 September 251, passing on his authority to his eldest son, Sima Shi, who continued ruling as regent. Sima Shi deposed Cao Fang in 254, on grounds of planning to stage a rebellion, replaced him with Cao Mao. In response, Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin staged a rebellion, but were crushed by Sima Shi in an event that took a heavy toll on Sima Shi's health, having undergone eye surgery prior to the insurrection, causing him to die on 23 March 255, but not before handing his power and regency over to his younger brother, Sima Zhao. In 258, Sima Zhao quelled Zhuge Dan's rebellion, marking an end to what are known as the Three Rebellions in Shouchun. In 260, Cao Mao attempted to seize back state power from Sima Zhao in a coup, but was killed by Cheng Ji, a military officer, serving under Jia Chong, a subordinate to the Simas. After Cao Mao's death, Cao Huan was enthroned as the fifth ruler of Wei. However, Cao Huan was a mere figurehead under Sima Zhao's control, much like his predecessor.
In 263, Wei armies led by Deng Ai conquered Shu. Afterwards, Zhong Hui and former Shu general Jiang Wei grouped and plotted together in order to oust Sima Zhao from power, various Wei officials t
Hepburn romanization is a system for the romanization of Japanese that uses the Latin alphabet to write the Japanese language. It is used by most foreigners learning to spell Japanese in the Latin alphabet and by the Japanese for romanizing personal names, geographical locations, other information such as train tables, road signs, official communications with foreign countries. Based on English writing conventions, consonants correspond to the English pronunciation and vowels approximate the Italian pronunciation; the Hepburn style was developed in the late 19th century by an international commission, formed to develop a unified system of romanization. The commission's romanization scheme was popularized by the wide dissemination of a Japanese–English dictionary by commission member and American missionary James Curtis Hepburn, published in 1886; the "modified Hepburn system" known as the "standard system", was published in 1908 with revisions by Kanō Jigorō and the Society for the Propagation of Romanization.
Although Kunrei romanization is favored by the Japanese government today, Hepburn romanization is still in use and remains the worldwide standard. The Hepburn style is regarded as the best way to render Japanese pronunciation for Westerners. Since it is based on English and Italian pronunciations, people who speak English or Romance languages will be more accurate in pronouncing unfamiliar Japanese words romanized in the Hepburn style compared to Nihon-shiki romanization and Kunrei-shiki romanization. Hepburn is based on English phonology and has competed with the alternative Nihon-shiki romanization, developed in Japan as a replacement of the Japanese script. In 1930 a Special Romanization Study Commission was appointed to compare the two; the Commission decided in favor of a slightly-modified version of Nihon-shiki, proclaimed to be Japan's official romanization for all purposes by a September 21, 1937, cabinet ordinance. The ordinance was temporarily overturned by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers during the Occupation of Japan, but it was reissued with slight revisions in 1954.
In 1972 a revised version of Hepburn was codified as ANSI standard Z39.11-1972. It was proposed in 1989 as a draft for ISO 3602 but rejected in favor of the Kunrei-shiki romanization; the ANSI Z39.11-1972 standard was deprecated on October 6, 1994. As of 1978 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, many other official organizations used Hepburn instead of Kunrei-shiki. In addition The Japan Times, the Japan Travel Bureau, many other private organizations used Hepburn instead of Kunrei-shiki; the National Diet Library used Kunrei-shiki. Although Hepburn is not a government standard, some government agencies mandate it. For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires the use of Hepburn on passports, the Ministry of Land and Transport requires the use of Hepburn on transport signs, including road signs and railway station signs. In many other areas that it lacks de jure status, Hepburn remains the de facto standard. Signs and notices in city offices and police stations and at shrines and attractions use it.
English-language newspapers and media use the simplified form of Hepburn. Cities and prefectures use it in information for English-speaking residents and visitors, English-language publications by the Japanese Foreign Ministry use simplified Hepburn as well. Official tourism information put out by the government uses it, as do guidebooks, both local and foreign, on Japan. Many students of Japanese as a foreign language learn Hepburn. There are many variants of the Hepburn romanization; the two most common styles are as follows: The Traditional Hepburn, as defined in various editions of Hepburn's dictionary, with the third edition considered authoritative. It is characterized by the rendering of syllabic n as m before the consonants b, m and p: Shimbashi for 新橋. Modified Hepburn known as Revised Hepburn, in which the rendering of syllabic n as m before certain consonants is no longer used: Shinbashi for 新橋; the style was introduced in the third edition of Kenkyūsha's New Japanese-English Dictionary, was adopted by the Library of Congress as one of its ALA-LC romanizations, is the most common version of the system today.
In Japan itself, there are some variants mandated for various uses: Railway Standard, which follows the Hyōjun-shiki Rōmaji. All Japan Rail and other major railways use it for station names. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Tourism Standard, how to spell Roman letters of road signs, which follows the modified Hepburn style, it is used for road signs. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Passport Standard, a permissive standard, which explicitly allows the use of "non-Hepburn romaji" in personal names, notably for passports. In particular, it renders the syllabic n as m before b, m and p, romanizes long o as oh, oo or ou. Details of the variants can be found below; the romanizations set out in the first and second versions of Hepburn's dictionary are of historical interest. Notable differences from the third and versions include: エ and ヱ were written as ye: Yedo ズ and ヅ were written as dzu: kudzu, tsudzuku キャ, キョ, キュ were written as kiya, kiy
Kanji are the adopted logographic Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system. They are used alongside katakana; the Japanese term kanji for the Chinese characters means "Han characters". It is written with the same characters in the Chinese language to refer to the character writing system, hanzi. Chinese characters first came to Japan on official seals, swords, coins and other decorative items imported from China; the earliest known instance of such an import was the King of Na gold seal given by Emperor Guangwu of Han to a Yamato emissary in 57 AD. Chinese coins from the first century AD have been found in Yayoi period archaeological sites. However, the Japanese of that era had no comprehension of the script, would remain illiterate until the fifth century AD. According to the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki, a semi-legendary scholar called Wani was dispatched to Japan by the Kingdom of Baekje during the reign of Emperor Ōjin in the early fifth century, bringing with him knowledge of Confucianism and Chinese characters.
The earliest Japanese documents were written by bilingual Chinese or Korean officials employed at the Yamato court. For example, the diplomatic correspondence from King Bu of Wa to Emperor Shun of Liu Song in 478 has been praised for its skillful use of allusion. Groups of people called fuhito were organized under the monarch to read and write Classical Chinese. During the reign of Empress Suiko, the Yamato court began sending full-scale diplomatic missions to China, which resulted in a large increase in Chinese literacy at the Japanese court. In ancient times paper was so rare that people stenciled kanji onto thin, rectangular strips of wood; these wooden boards were used for communication between government offices, tags for goods transported between various countries, the practice of writing. The oldest written kanji in Japan discovered so far was written in ink on wood as a wooden strip dated to the 7th century, it is a record of trading for salt. The Japanese language had no written form at the time Chinese characters were introduced, texts were written and read only in Chinese.
During the Heian period, however, a system known as kanbun emerged, which involved using Chinese text with diacritical marks to allow Japanese speakers to restructure and read Chinese sentences, by changing word order and adding particles and verb endings, in accordance with the rules of Japanese grammar. Chinese characters came to be used to write Japanese words, resulting in the modern kana syllabaries. Around 650 AD, a writing system called man'yōgana evolved that used a number of Chinese characters for their sound, rather than for their meaning. Man'yōgana written in cursive style evolved into hiragana, or onna-de, that is, "ladies' hand," a writing system, accessible to women. Major works of Heian-era literature by women were written in hiragana. Katakana emerged via a parallel path: monastery students simplified man'yōgana to a single constituent element, thus the two other writing systems and katakana, referred to collectively as kana, are descended from kanji. In comparison to kana kanji are called mana.
In modern Japanese, kanji are used to write parts of the language such as nouns, adjective stems, verb stems, while hiragana are used to write inflected verb and adjective endings and as phonetic complements to disambiguate readings and miscellaneous words which have no kanji or whose kanji is considered obscure or too difficult to read or remember. Katakana are used for representing onomatopoeia, non-Japanese loanwords, the names of plants and animals, for emphasis on certain words. In 1946, after World War II and under the Allied Occupation of Japan, the Japanese government, guided by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, instituted a series of orthographic reforms, to help children learn and to simplify kanji use in literature and periodicals; the number of characters in circulation was reduced, formal lists of characters to be learned during each grade of school were established. Some characters were given simplified glyphs, called shinjitai. Many variant forms of characters and obscure alternatives for common characters were discouraged.
These are guidelines, so many characters outside these standards are still known and used. The kyōiku kanji are 1,006 characters; the list only contained 881 characters. This was expanded to 996 characters in 1977, it was not until 1982 the list was expanded to its current size. The grade-level breakdown of these kanji is known as the gakunen-betsu kanji haitōhyō, or the gakushū kanji; the jōyō kanji are 2,136 characters consisting of all the Kyōiku kanji, plus 1,130 additional kanji taught in junior high and high school. In publishing, characters outside this category are given furigana; the jōyō kanji were introduced in 1981, replacing an older list of 1,850 characters known as the tōyō kanji, introduced in 1946. Numbering 1,945 characters, the jōyō kanji list was extended to 2,136 in 2010; some of the new characters were Jinmeiyō kanji. Since September 27, 2004, the jinmeiyō k
Traditional Chinese characters
Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, in the Kangxi Dictionary; the modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, have been more or less stable since the 5th century. The retronym "traditional Chinese" is used to contrast traditional characters with Simplified Chinese characters, a standardized character set introduced by the government of the People's Republic of China on Mainland China in the 1950s. Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau. In contrast, Simplified Chinese characters are used in mainland China and Malaysia in official publications. However, several countries – such as Australia, the US and Canada – are increasing their number of printed materials in Simplified Chinese, to better accommodate citizens from mainland China.
The debate on traditional and simplified Chinese characters has been a long-running issue among Chinese communities. A large number of overseas Chinese online newspapers allow users to switch between both character sets. Although simplified characters are taught and endorsed by the government of China, there is no prohibition against the use of traditional characters. Traditional characters are used informally in regions in China in handwriting and used for inscriptions and religious text, they are retained in logos or graphics to evoke yesteryear. Nonetheless, the vast majority of media and communications in China is dominated by simplified characters. In Hong Kong and Macau, Traditional Chinese has been the legal written form since colonial times. In recent years, simplified Chinese characters in Hong Kong and Macau has appeared to accommodate Mainland Chinese tourists and immigrants; this has led to concerns by many residents to protect their local heritage. Taiwan has never adopted simplified characters.
The use of simplified characters in official documents is prohibited by the government of Taiwan. Simplified characters are understood to a certain extent by any educated Taiwanese, learning to read them takes little effort; some stroke simplifications that have been incorporated into Simplified Chinese are in common use in handwriting. For example, while the name of Taiwan is written as 臺灣, the semi-simplified name 台灣 is acceptable to write in official documents. In Southeast Asia, the Chinese Filipino community continues to be one of the most conservative regarding simplification. While major public universities are teaching simplified characters, many well-established Chinese schools still use traditional characters. Publications like the Chinese Commercial News, World News, United Daily News still use traditional characters. On the other hand, the Philippine Chinese Daily uses simplified. Aside from local newspapers, magazines from Hong Kong, such as the Yazhou Zhoukan, are found in some bookstores.
In case of film or television subtitles on DVD, the Chinese dub, used in Philippines is the same as the one used in Taiwan. This is because the DVDs belongs to DVD Region Code 3. Hence, most of the subtitles are in Traditional Characters. Overseas Chinese in the United States have long used traditional characters. A major influx of Chinese immigrants to the United States occurred during the latter half of the 19th century, before the standardization of simplified characters. Therefore, United States public notices and signage in Chinese are in Traditional Chinese. Traditional Chinese characters are called several different names within the Chinese-speaking world; the government of Taiwan calls traditional Chinese characters standard characters or orthodox characters. However, the same term is used outside Taiwan to distinguish standard and traditional characters from variant and idiomatic characters. In contrast, users of traditional characters outside Taiwan, such as those in Hong Kong and overseas Chinese communities, users of simplified Chinese characters, call them complex characters.
An informal name sometimes used by users of simplified characters is "old characters". Users of traditional characters sometimes refer them as "Full Chinese characters" to distinguish them from simplified Chinese characters; some traditional character users argue that traditional characters are the original form of the Chinese characters and cannot be called "complex". Simplified characters cannot be "standard" because they are not used in all Chinese-speaking regions. Conversely, supporters of simplified Chinese characters object to the description of traditional characters as "standard," since they view the new simplified characters as the contemporary standard used by the vast majority of Chinese speakers, they point out that traditional characters are not traditional as many Chinese characters have been made more elaborate over time. Some people refer to traditional characters as "proper characters" and modernized characters as "simplified-stroke characters" (sim
The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humankind. It was preceded by the Bronze Age; the concept has been applied to Europe and the Ancient Near East, and, by analogy to other parts of the Old World. The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration, it is defined by archaeological convention, the mere presence of some cast or wrought iron is not sufficient to represent an Iron Age culture. For example, Tutankhamun's meteoric iron dagger comes from the Bronze Age. In the Ancient Near East, this transition takes place in the wake of the so-called Bronze Age collapse, in the 12th century BC; the technology soon spread to South Asia. Its further spread to Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Central Europe is somewhat delayed, Northern Europe is reached still by about 500 BC; the Iron Age is taken to end by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record. This does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record.
The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning of the Viking Age. In South Asia, the Iron Age is taken to begin with the ironworking Painted Gray Ware culture and to end with the reign of Ashoka; the use of the term "Iron Age" in the archaeology of South and Southeast Asia is more recent, less common, than for western Eurasia. The Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa are outside of the three-age system, there being no Bronze Age, but the term "Iron Age" is sometimes used in reference to early cultures practicing ironworking such as the Nok culture of Nigeria; the three-age system was introduced in the first half of the 19th century for the archaeology of Europe in particular, by the 19th century expanded to the archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Its name harks back to the mythological "Ages of Man" of Hesiod; as an archaeological era it was first introduced for Scandinavia by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen in the 1830s. By the 1860s, it was embraced as a useful division of the "earliest history of mankind" in general and began to be applied in Assyriology.
The development of the now-conventional periodization in the archaeology of the Ancient Near East was developed in the 1920s to 1930s. As its name suggests, Iron Age technology is characterized by the production of tools and weaponry by ferrous metallurgy, more from carbon steel; the Iron Age in Europe is being seen as a part of the Bronze Age collapse in the ancient Near East, in ancient India, ancient Iran, ancient Greece. In other regions of Europe the Iron Age began in the 8th century BC in Central Europe and the 6th century BC in Northern Europe; the Near Eastern Iron Age is divided into two subsections, Iron I and Iron II. Iron I illustrates both discontinuity with the previous Late Bronze Age. There is no definitive cultural break between the 13th and 12th centuries BC throughout the entire region, although certain new features in the hill country and coastal region may suggest the appearance of the Aramaean and Sea People groups. There is evidence, however, of strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves into Iron I the culture begins to diverge more from that of the late 2nd millennium.
The Iron Age as an archaeological period is defined as that part of the prehistory of a culture or region during which ferrous metallurgy was the dominant technology of metalworking. The periodization is not tied to the presence of ferrous metallurgy and is to some extent a matter of convention; the characteristic of an Iron Age culture is mass production of tools and weapons made from steel alloys with a carbon content between 0.30% and 1.2% by weight. Only with the capability of the production of carbon steel does ferrous metallurgy result in tools or weapons that are equal or superior to bronze. To this day bronze and brass have not been replaced in many applications, with the spread of steel being based as much on economics as on metallurgical advancements. A range of techniques have been used to produce steel from smelted iron, including techniques such as case-hardening and forge welding that were used to make cutting edges stronger. By convention, the Iron Age in the Ancient Near East is taken to last from c. 1200 BC to c. 550 BC, taken as the beginning of historiography or the end of the proto-historical period.
In Central and Western Europe, the Iron Age is taken to last from c. 800 BC to c. 1 BC, in Northern Europe from c. 500 BC to 800 AD. In China, there is no recognizable prehistoric period characterized by ironworking, as Bronze Age China transitions directly into the Qin dynasty of imperial China; the following gives an overview over the
Chinese bronze inscriptions
Chinese bronze inscriptions commonly referred to as bronze script or bronzeware script, are writing in a variety of Chinese scripts on Chinese ritual bronzes such as zhōng bells and dǐng tripodal cauldrons from the Shang dynasty to the Zhou dynasty and later. Early bronze inscriptions were always cast, while inscriptions were engraved after the bronze was cast; the bronze inscriptions are one of the earliest scripts in the Chinese family of scripts, preceded by the oracle bone script. For the early Western Zhou to early Warring States period, the bulk of writing, unearthed has been in the form of bronze inscriptions; as a result, it is common to refer to the variety of scripts of this period as "bronze script" though there is no single such script. The term includes bronze inscriptions of the preceding Shang dynasty as well. However, there are great differences between the pictorial Shang emblem characters on bronzes, typical Shang bronze graphs, writing on bronzes from the middle of the Zhou dynasty, that on late Zhou to Qin and subsequent period bronzes.
Furthermore, starting in the Spring and Autumn period, the writing in each region evolved in different directions, such that the script styles in the Warring States of Chu and the eastern regions, for instance, were strikingly divergent. In addition, artistic scripts emerged in the late Spring and Autumn to early Warring States, such as Bird Script called Bird Seal Script, Worm Script. 寅 Yín in Four Different Scripts on Shang–Zhou bronzes Of the abundant Chinese ritual bronze artifacts extant today, about 12,000 have inscriptions. These have been periodically unearthed since their creation, have been systematically collected and studied since at least the Song dynasty; the inscriptions tend to grow in length over time, from only one to six or so characters for the earlier Shang examples, to forty or so characters in the longest, late-Shang case, a hundred or more on Zhou bronzes, with the longest up to around 500. In general, characters on ancient Chinese bronze inscriptions were arranged in vertical columns, written top to bottom, in a fashion thought to have been influenced by bamboo books, which are believed to have been the main medium for writing in the Shang and Zhou dynasties.
The narrow, vertical bamboo slats of these books were not suitable for writing wide characters, so a number of graphs were rotated 90 degrees. Examples: Of the 12,000 inscribed bronzes extant today 3,000 date from the Shang dynasty, 6,000 from the Zhou dynasty, the final 3,000 from the Qin and Han dynasties. Inscriptions on Shang bronzes are of a uniform style, making it possible to discuss a "Shang bronze script", although great differences still exist between typical characters and certain instances of clan names or emblems. Like early period oracle bone script, the structures and orientations of individual graphs varied in the Shang bronze inscriptions, such that one may find a particular character written differently each time rather than in a standardized way; as in the oracle bone script, characters could be written facing left or right, turned 90 degrees, sometimes flipped vertically with no change in meaning. For instance, both represent the modern character xū 戌, while and are both hóu 侯 "marquis".
This was true of normal as well as extra complex identificational graphs, such as the hǔ 虎 "tiger" clan emblem at right, turned 90 degrees clockwise on its bronze. These inscriptions are all cast, are short and simple; some were to identify the name of a clan or other name, while typical inscriptions include the maker's clan name and the posthumous title of the ancestor, commemorated by the making and use of the vessel. These inscriptions those late period examples identifying a name, are executed in a script of pictographic flavor, which preserves the formal, complex Shang writing as would have been written on bamboo or wood books, as opposed to the concurrent simplified and more rectilinear form of writing as seen on the oracle bones. A few Shang inscriptions have been found which were brush-written on pottery, jade or bone artifacts, there are some bone engravings on non-divination matters written in a complex pictographic style; the soft clay of the piece-molds used to produce the Shang to early Zhou bronzes was suitable for preserving most of the complexity of the brush-written characters on such books and other media, whereas the hard, bony surface of the oracle bones was difficult to engrave, spurring significant simplification and conversion to rectilinearity.
Furthermore, some of the characters on the Shang bronzes may have been more complex than normal due to conservative usage in this ritual medium, or when recording identificational inscriptions. Shang bronze script may thus be considered a formal script, similar to but sometimes more complex than the unattested daily Shang script on bamboo and wood books and other media, yet far more complex than the Shang script on the oracle bones. Western Zhou dynasty cha