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The Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project: Methodology and Results

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The Xia-Shang-Zhou Chronology Project is a multidisciplinary research program that began in 1996. The ultimate goal of the Chronology Project is to provide a scientifically based absolute chronology of the Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou, the three earliest dynasties in Chinese history. The Chronology Project has involved the collaboration of more than 200 specialists in the fields of archaeology, history, astronomy, and radiocarbon dating from about 30 institutes and universities. Forty-four topics organized under nine themes, each with explicit, realizable goals, were set up to implement the Chronology Project. After more than four years of study,a new chronological chart of the Three Dynasties was derived and disseminated in the autumn of 2000. The new chart offers the exact reigns of nine late Shang kings and ten Western Zhou kings, and a framework for the chronology of early Shang and Xia. Some important datum points of the chronology are: the beginning of Xia and that of Shang are dated to ca. 2070 BC and ca. 1600 BC respectively; the date King Pan Geng moved the Shang capital to Yin is estimated to be ca. 1300 BC; and the Zhou conquest of the Shang, that is, the beginning of Zhou Dynasty, is set to 1046 BC.

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