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Is the Xia Dynasty Just a Legend?

You may have never heard of the Xia Dynasty before. It is believed to be the first dynastic clan to rule over China, but there are almost no archeological remains to prove the written records. So it has been considered a legend by many modern historians.

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Source:chinesetimeschool

The Xia dynasty is believed to have existed between 2070 and 1600 BC. China’s first written system of oracle bone script did not exist then, but when it did there was no mention of the Xia dynasty until more than a thousand years later. Raising doubts in historian’s minds of whether it is real or not.

The Written History

According to an ancient text written by a historian in 145-86 BCE, Sima Qian. The Yellow Emperor who ruled the region of Shandong from 2697-2597 BCE created the Chinese culture and established a form of government, and when he passed he was succeeded by his grandson, Zhuanxu. Zhuanxu was one of the famous 5 emperors who founded the Xia tribe. They fought frequent battles with the Chi You tribe until they slowly defeated their rivals and established the first dynasty in China under Emperor Yao. 

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Source:chinahistorypodcast

A great deal of time was spent in the Xia dynasty to stop the floods from the yellow river. The emperor appointed a man names Gun to stop the floods but after years of failing to do so he was exiled and his son Yu took his place. Yu had learned from his father’s mistakes and spent 13 years constructing canals to lead the water to the sea. In the end, his hard work paid off and the floods stopped. The emperor Shun at the time was so proud of him and not only placed him in command of his army, where he successfully defeated enemy tribes but later made Yu the heir to the throne. From then on he was known as Yu the great and his time as emperor were considered the true beginning of the Xia dynasty for his actions to stop the floods and defeating the Sanmiao tribes truly established the central government and spread the governance of the 9 provinces.

After ruling for 45 years, Yu named his son Qi his heir. After Qi, his song Tai Kang took over, and then Shao Kang who was also considered a great hero that revitalized the country. The next emperor was Kong Jia and this was the start of the decline of the Xia dynasty, Kong Jia did not care for his responsibilities and was succeeded by Gao, then Fa, both of whom did not care for improving the lives of their people. The last emperor of the Xia dynasty was Jie who was known as a tyrant and was eventually overthrown by Tang who established the Shang Dynasty.

Skepticisms

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Source: whenintime

The gap of time between the end of the Xia dynasty and when first written evidence was found raises a lot of questions. Many believe that the famous Sima Qian invented the Xia dynasty to justify the Zhu dynasty taking over the Shang dynasty. The Xia dynasty was the exact opposite of the Shang dynasty and was invented as a necessity to justify their conquest as the Shang dynasty has done the same to the Xia dynasty.

Recent Discoveries

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Source: inhabitat

Just last week a team of experts from various fields uncovered evidence that may prove the existence of the Xia dynasty. A recently published journal provides evidence of the great floods that may have occurred during the time of the Xia dynasty. From that they created scenarios based on other evidence like sedimentary deposits, ancient test, landslides, and skeletons, to find that an ancient earthquake could have induced a landslide that would have stopped the yellow river and creating mass flooding. To date the exact timing of this they used carbon dating in human remains that were found in the cave dwelling people of Laijia, who they believe the flood had killed. The results of their findings were that the flood may have occurred in 1900 BCE which was the same time that the Xia dynasty came into power. Researchers believe more investigation and studies need to be done, but it is definitely a step in the right direction to solve the mystery behind the Xia dynasty.

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About the author

Monica is a Canadian-Chinese travel blogger and marketer that has spent time in Beijing, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou,and Xitang, Shanghai. When she isn't watching YouTube videos, you can find her writing or creating videos.

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