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Shang Dynasty Architecture - Ancient China
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Shang Architecture

Erlitou
Shang Dynasty palace at Erlitou

Even as early as the Shang Dynasty, about 1500 BC, the buildings we know about look like later Chinese buildings - anyone would know they were from China, not from West Asia or Africa.

In the cities, people lived in rows of rectangular houses laid out in rows, built of wood and rammed earth. In the center of the city, there was a big palace or temple (we're not sure which) on a high earth platform. One building at An-yang was a big hall with pillars all the way around it, about the size of a modern basketball court (though that's not what they used it for!).

Shang palace
Reconstruction of the Shang palace or temple at Panlongcheng

There was another, similar building at Panlongcheng. Both buildings probably had thatched roofs. You might compare this building to early Greek temples from around 800 BC, which also have wooden columns all the way around them and thatched, slanted roofs.

More about Shang Dynasty architecture

Bibliography and further reading about Shang Dynasty architecture:

Zhou Dynasty
More about Chinese Architecture
Ancient China


Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

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