The Zhou Dynasty (Chinese: 周朝; pinyin: Zhōu Cháo; Wade-Giles: Chou Ch`ao; 1045 BCE to 256 BCE) followed the Shang Dynasty and was followed by the Qin Dynasty in China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history—though the actual political and military control of China by the dynasty only lasted during the Western Zhou. During the Zhou, the use of iron was introduced to China, while this period of Chinese history produced what many consider the zenith of Chinese bronze-ware making. The dynasty also spans the period in which the written script evolved from the ancient stage as seen in early Western Zhou bronze inscriptions, to the beginnings of the modern stage, in the form of the archaic clerical script that emerged during the late Warring States period.
During the Zhou Dynasty, the origins of native Chinese philosophy developed, its initial stages beginning in the 6th century BC. The greatest Chinese philosophers, those who made the greatest impact on later generations of Chinese, were Kong Fuzi (Latin: Confucius), founder of Confucianism, and Laozi, founder of Daoism. Other philosophers, theorists, and schools of thought in this era were Mozi (Latin: Micius), founder of Mohism, Mengzi (Latin: Mencius), a famous Confucian who expanded upon Kong Fuzi's legacy, Shang Yang and Han Feizi, responsible for the development of ancient Chinese Legalism (the core philosophy of the Qin Dynasty), and Xunzi, who was arguably the center of ancient Chinese intellectual life during his time, even more so than iconic intellectual figures such as Mencius.