During the Shang period life as we know it had just began from our knowledge started about in 1766 B.C. ended in about 1122 B.C. the capital at the time was An-yang. The first signs of the Chinese writing system were found on the oracle bones. Some of the Chinese characters are recognizable with the untrained sys because they have the same character as they have now. Other finds in An-yang are the bronze items which means that they had an idea of being wealthy with the goods most of the good where weapons so they must have had many solider, also they found many ceremonial vessels which probably indicates they the people at the time where very religious. During the Shang period farming, they also raised sheep and cow but those were primarily for the use of milk and not for the meat. Bronze was still costly at the time so they made their farming tools out of wood or stone in some cases.
The political life of the Shang was very simple the successor of the rule was usually the brother of the king and not always the son of the king. The culture of the Shang was almost as they were slaves, no freedom and yet they had to do the kings bidding at anytime. There were many human sacrifices, and the servants and the aristocrats where buried with the king or emperor, the power of the king was great and uncontested. Yet the Shang were always at war with their neighboring city-states. At the time the religion was probably different through China so the religion may of varied from place to place yet the Shang did not seem to have a set religion, just to have human sacrifices or in some cases animal sacrifices.
People believe that the Shang had hundreds of thousands of soldiers. After the Zhou conquered the Shang another great dynasty arose. Though the Zhou was not as good as with making of the bronze items, they were less blood thirsty, there were not as many human sacrifices at the time. The Zhou City-states were highly aristocrat i societies. As technology advanced so did the amount of people at the time trade with other city-states grew, wealth increased and the area that the Zhou had conquered was getting too big for the family to run, because of lack of communication so they had appointed people to watch over the areas for the king. Some people have compared the western Zhou to the Shang because they had both practiced ancestor worship.
Peasants were also looked as an inferior class compared to the high and mighty nobles and kings. During the Zhou dynasty is the only time period that historical documents have been found. The Zhou society was based on agricultural production. During that time, the land of the lords was divided among the peasants to grow crops. The crops were divided into 3 by 3 squares so the 8 peasants would work on the 8 outer squares and all of them would work on the center square for the land lord.
The Zhou kings believed that they were given a mandate from heaven to rule. The kings prayed to Shang Ti, the Lord on High, now called T'ien (Heaven), and to their ancestors. The lords of the territories prayed to the local nature gods and to the gods of agriculture in addition to their ancestors. If any prayers were missed, great ill was predicted to fall on the territory or kingdom of the neglectful leader. In the beginning the capitol of the Zhou dynasty was Hao until rebel barbarians destroyed the capital and then they had to move Luoyang.
The Zhou empire was divided for 20 years, Both the kings where wounded in battle and showed everyone that the Zhou dynasty was weakening and that it was only time until someone else ruled over them. Zhou Dynasty was the first dynasty to unite most of china at the time and because of that the power of the kings weakened in most parts but the power of the nobles that were taking over the area had gotten stronger. This is also when the warring states period started when the other city states always threatening to conquer each other. Well of course the human sacrifices stopped and many of the economic ideas have changed instead of just farming, they are making all sorts of items for export as their main source of wealth.
Another source of wealth at the time was trading heavy, heavy trading with other country places. But some of the things are the same as before like the farming tools in some cases they have upgraded. Many parts of china are still very primitive because of lack of education. In both dynasties the rulers both had an iron fist at one point.
The writing I believe stayed the same so that they could read and write. Some of the important changes where that they did not have anymore human sacrifices and that they also had generally had less slaves and the burial of the kings were still the same importance but just at less magnitude. Both of the dynasties were conquer when they were both weak and unable to defend for their lives. The bronze metal casting was never the same after the Shang dynasty so that the other dynasty did not make the bronze casting anything like the Shang so in other words it was a lost art. The Kings did not have as high in quality as some of the kings in the Shang period. There are many other differences and many similarities but because of the lack of knowledge of the Shang period other comparisons are only guesses..