East Asia: China, Korea, Japan 500 BCE

The philosopher Confucius, whose teachings will influence millions of people down to the present day, lives at this time.

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What is happening in East Asia: China, Korea, Japan in 500BCE


The past centuries have seen the Zhou kingdom of northern China fragment into a number of large, highly organized states. These are continually at war with one another. Despite this, civilization has made huge strides in all spheres. The use of iron has come in from western Asia, and iron farming tools have come into widespread use. This has greatly increasing food production, and commerce and industry have also expanded.

An influential philosopher

This is leading to widespread social change, and into this fluctuating environment comes one of the most important philosophers in world history, Confucius. His teachings will be hugely influential on the life and thought of the peoples of East Asia from ancient times right up to the present day.

Korea and Japan

Bronze age Korea is divided into numerous small but warlike chiefdoms, whose aristocracies have developed a fashion for large stone-built graves (dolmens), often furnished with bronze weapons, fine ceramics and jade objects as burial goods. Contacts between Korea and Japan are growing. At this time groups of Koreans are migrating to Japan, introducing their culture, based on rice cultivation, and their knowledge of bronze working, to the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

Next map, East Asia in 200 BCE

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Ancient East Asia

Ancient Chinese civilization

The Zhou dynasty of ancient China

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Early Civilizations

China in the Classical Age


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