History KS2: How Humans Got Fire

Historian Michael Wood climbs the Hill of Shang and visits a temple to the Gods of Fire and Water.

He tells how one of the king's sons, Ebo, stole fire by tricking the gods.

The gods were angry when they discovered they had been tricked, and sent a great flood to wipe out the Chinese.

But Ebo survived. Fire was essential to the development of the Shang into a powerful kingdom, so Ebo is said to be the reason the Shang became China's first dynasty.

This Shang myth or legend is very similar to the Bible story of Noah and the Great Flood.

This short film is from the BBC series, The Story of China. A series exploring the stories, people and landscapes that have helped create China's distinctive character and genius over four thousand years.

Teacher Notes

You could ask your pupils to make a sequenced timeline of the events of the story.

What are the good and bad things that happen after Ebo steals fire from the Gods?

You could also ask your class to research the story of Noah and the Flood.

Why does the story say God flooded the world? What was he trying to do?

To pull it together you might discuss how similar, and how different the two stories are.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at Second Level in Scotland.

More from The Story of China

How People Were Created
How the Shang Invented Writing
How King Yu Controlled the Flood
How the Early Chinese Made Bronzes
How We Know About the Shang
The Rise and Fall of the Shang