The Shang ruled an area around the Yellow River Valley for around 500 years. They had many rulers and capital cities during that time. The government became corrupt under the rule of King Di Xin. He was overthrown by Wu of Zhou and the Zhou Dynasty was founded.
The Shang tribe grew into power around 1600 BC. Legend has it that the Shang were united under the leadership of Cheng Tang. Cheng Tang defeated the evil King Jie of the Xia to begin the Shang Dynasty.
Much of what we know about the Shang comes from oracle bones. These were bones that the Shang used to try and determine the future. Religious men would write a question on one side of the bone and then burn the bone until it cracked.
They would then interpret the cracks for the answers and write the answers on the other side of the bone. Historians are able to decipher much of the history of the Shang through these questions and answers. Thousands of oracle bones have been found by archeologists.
The Shang were the first Chinese Dynasty to invent writing and have a recorded history. This ancient writing is fairly similar to modern Chinese script. Writing enabled the Shang to have a fairly organized society and government.