The History of China encompasses the time period from prehistory to the present day. Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization, although cultures originated at various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. Records of written history can be found as early as the Shang dynasty, although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a Xia dynasty before the Shang. Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou dynasty.
The Zhou dynasty began to bow to external and internal pressures in the 8th century BC, and the kingdom eventually broke apart into smaller states, beginning in the Spring and Autumn period and reaching full expression in the Warring States period. This is one of multiple periods of failed statehood in Chinese history.