The Reason You Wouldn't Survive Life In Ancient China

It's easy to romanticize what life would have been like if you'd only been born a few thousand years earlier. No credit card debt. No student loans. No telemarketers calling day and night. No need to pine over whether bae has watched your Insta story yet. The Bronze Age was just a simpler time. Simpler, but brutal. If you think you trifling modern concerns would even register amid some of the messed up things that happened in pre-modern Ancient China, think again.

However, ancient Chinese civilization was also one of the most advanced on the planet. Thanks to their geographic separation from all the trials and tribulations taking place around the Mediterranean Sea, they were able to build an independent society, which allowed their unique Chinese culture to flourish. Despite minor dust-ups with invading armies like the Huns and Mongols, the Chinese survived for thousands of years before really opening themselves up to western influence. That's not to say they were immune to all the depravities that came with life in the ancient world: Unless you were a member of the rarefied nobility, your lot in ancient China wasn't worth much. To crib a quote from Thomas Hobbes, life in Ancient China was nasty, brutish and short. The odds of surviving to adulthood were never in your favor. Here's what probably would have gotten you.

Good luck making it past 25 in ancient China

According to an article on historical Chinese longevity written by scholar Zhongwei Zhao, life expectancy in ancient China was around 25 years. A huge proportion of live births died in infancy, contributing to this shocking average. If you were one of the lucky few Chinese peasants who made it to 30, chances were you had already been married for half your life (though that isn't what killed people, har har). If you weren't married, it probably meant you were a slave. Ancient China had one of the largest slave populations in the ancient world. Those slaves had a rough go of it during the Shang Dynasty, which according to History ran from 1600 BCE to 1048 BCE. Many slaves were prisoners or captives of war, according to Live Science, who would labor for years before being sacrificed  at the pleasure of their masters. If you minded your p's and q's and survived long enough to see your master die before you, as explained on, you had the privilege of being buried alive in his tomb.

Given your modern sensibilities, chances are good you would have broken one of the myriad rules governing your pathetic enslaved existence, or at the very least had the misfortune to outlive your master. These circumstances, more likely than not, would have resulted in your immediate death. Student loan payments don't sound so bad now, do they?