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Fighting for His Majesty (I): Accretion of the Greater Shang (ca. 1200-1045 B.C.)*

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AbstractA series of new archaeological excavations in China has enriched the study of ancient Shang and Zhou history. Many Chinese scholars have devoted considerable research to the recently deciphered oracle bone inscriptions, which have illuminated the military and religious practices of the Shang in greater detail. Their achievements enable us to arrive at new understandings about the processes, purposes, and strategies employed by the Shang people to expand their territory. This article explores the structure of the Great Settlement of the Shang and what life was like in the late Shang period. Also, it intends to shed new light on the wars between the Shang and their enemies, including their military arrangements, the major generals of the Shang king, and their strategies for building alliances. Finally, I argue that the chief purpose of Shang expansion to the south was to procure a supply of a key natural resource, copper.

Affiliations: 1: Mississippi State University, Email:, URL:


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