You are studying the Shang dynasty because it was the first Chinese civilization in ancient times and one for which we now have detailed evidence. This topic not only shows you how history is reconstructed literally from fragments of bone, it also shows how history has to be constantly re-written in the light of new discoveries. As recently as 150 years ago many scholars thought that the Shang dynasty was actually mythical and did not exist in reality. And, of course, the Shang people deserve their own special place in our memory for their outstanding bronze work -a world leader at the time- as well as their sophisticated system of writing in symbols.