History KS2: How King Yu Controlled the Flood

Michael Wood describes the importance of the Yellow River, and how every year it flooded and brought death and destruction to this part of China.

We hear a traditional Chinese storyteller tell the story or myth of King Yu and the Yellow River, and how he controlled the flooding and brought wealth to the area.

We hear how he and his helpers, Yellow Dragon and Black Turtle, worked to build a channel to control the river, irrigate farmland, and make the land prosperous.

This was so important that the Chinese built temples to King Yu.

Most people thought this was a myth until very recently when archaeological evidence; a huge bronze bowl with inscriptions, and an old royal palace, were discovered that suggested King Yu may well have existed, just before the start of the Shang dynasty.

This clip is from the BBC series The Story of China. A series of videos 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 pupils to retell the myth of King Yu.

They should consider which parts may be fact, and which parts may be fiction?

You could discuss how has archaeology changed our view of King Yu?

Which is better evidence - the remains of the Palace or the engraved Bronze bowl?

To pull it all together you could discuss how useful these three myths are in helping us understand China at the time of the Shang?

Curriculum Notes

This 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 Humans Got Fire
How the Shang Invented Writing
How the Early Chinese Made Bronzes
How We Know About the Shang
The Rise and Fall of the Shang