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Old February 20th, 2011, 09:37 PM   #1
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Chinese civilization: yellow river vs Yangtze


From what I have read the chinese civilization and then empire initially seems to have developed around the yellow river....... While there was also a process goind on around the Yangtze, China's first dynasty came from the Yellow river area... If this is correct, my question would be why ? The Yangtze seems to have warmer climate so seems to be overall better for an early civilization ......
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Old February 21st, 2011, 07:25 AM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomar View Post
From what I have read the chinese civilization and then empire initially seems to have developed around the yellow river....... While there was also a process goind on around the Yangtze, China's first dynasty came from the Yellow river area... If this is correct, my question would be why ? The Yangtze seems to have warmer climate so seems to be overall better for an early civilization ......
Both rivers were equally important and if you look at overal history you'll see that both the Yellow and the Long River were the main arteries of any Chinese dynasty that tried to rule a united China (as shown in the many attempts to bridge the two with canals. You can actually also add a two secondary rivers to that list. Namely one in the south: Xi, the economic artery of the areas bordering present day Vietnam; and another the basin of Sichuan (not a new river as it is part of the Yangtze, but a region detached from the part that formed the core of a primary economic centre).

As for the first traces of an emerging civilisation we have to go back to the Neolithicum with the Yangshao and Longshan culture, between 5000-1700 BCE (and prior to that before agriculture - or with some beginning experimention in this field - we have the Cishan and Peiligang cultures). Yangshao and Longshan are clearly situated along the Yellow river. Basically the answer to your question may be co´ncidence. Both the He and the Yangtze were suitable to exploitation and since people couldn't check the weather charts on the evening news there was little reason to move somewhere else if the area you were living in was sufficient enough. Moreover, the Yangtze river was not uninhabited by this date, note that aside from the Yangshao and Longshan cultures we have 2 other core areas of development namely non-Chinese ones (as another important note: what is today China is the result of colonisation and migration over the centuries, the Chinese culture would expand and absorb/assimilate all others). These 2 areas were situated in the basin of the Yangtze and the valleys of Fujian and Guangdong.


Note: there were also other cultures like the Xinglongwa and Xinle in the area of the river Liao.
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Old February 21st, 2011, 10:33 PM   #3
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No, it's not that much of a coincident.

The key your missing is that the weather in 3000-5000 BC is significantly different than by 1000 A.D .

Originally, the weather of they Yellow River Region is closer to the Yangtsi today, while the Yangtsi then was closer to Vietnam / Guang Dong today.

In fact, it is well known that the areas west of modern day Wuhan city was a huge swamp called Yun Mun Great Swamp (雲夢) it was still recorded as being extraordinarily large swamp in the Spring and Autumn period. Historians and Geologist estimates that it use to be around 40 thousand square KM (in context, thats about the size of Lake Ontario + Lake Erie ) .

So essentially, the Yangtsi river in the late stone age to bronze age was too warm and humid, that's one of the first issue, the second is the difference in soil, the Loess of the Yellow River is significantly easier to cultivate with primative technology than the soils of the Yangtsi river, the Yangtsi is far more productive today, but that's due to many centuries of developing drainage / irrigation and generally more advanced tools.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 09:13 AM   #4
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I believe this thread poses a similar question in the later pages:

http://www.historum.com/ancient-hist...lizations.html

May be worth a look.
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Old February 22nd, 2011, 06:12 PM   #5

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Millets were mostly cultivated around the Yellow River in the North. Rice was more common along the Yangtze Kiang in the South.

http://www.jrank.org/history/pages/5...-In-China.html
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