Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites: Site of Yangshao Village

The Site of Yangshao Village is located in Yangshao Village, 8 kilometers to the north of Mianchi County in Henan Province.
The Yangshao Site, one of the important sites of the Neolithic Age in China, was discovered in the south tableland of the ordinary Mianchi Village. Encircled by river on three sides and Shaoshan Mountain on the north side, the site covers an area of 300,000 square meters with its cultural layer being up to 4 meters deep. The Yangshao Site was discovered by a Swedish archaeologist in 1921, and has drawn great attention from historians. In 1931, Chinese archaeologist Liang Siyong discovered for the first time the laminated cultural layers of Shang Culture, Longshan Culture and Yangshao Culture at the back hillock in Anyang. The discovery has a significant meaning in determining the time line of the three cultures.

In 1951, the Archaeological Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences conducted a large-scale excavation of the Yangshao ruins, and obtained rich scientific data. According to the measure by C14, the site dates back to 5,000-6,000 years ago. Unearthed relics include zax, stone shovel, stone hoe, spinning wheel, bone awl, bone needle and some wares for daily use, such as earthen bowl, basin, and pots. Most of these wares are decorated with colored drawings. Since this culture was first discovered in Yangshao Village, so it has been named as Yangshao Culture.

As the most influential culture in the Yellow River Valley, the Yangshao Culture was distributed in a vast area wider than any other Neolithic cultures of the same period in China. Over 1,000 Yangshao Culture sites with a long history have been discovered in an area centering in Henan, Shaanxi and southern Shanxi and stretching westward to the Gansu Corridor, eastward to western Shandong, northward to center Hebei and the Great Bend of the Yellow River in Inner Mongolia, and southward to the drainage basin of the Hanshui River.

The Yangshao Culture lasted 2,000 years from 7,000 years ago and 5,000 years ago. Such an influential primitive culture is seldom seen in the world's Neolithic culture history.

The Yangshao Culture site shows the social structure and cultural achievements of the Chinese Matriarchy clan society from its prosperity to the decline. The Yangshao people have broken away from the natural restraint and led a settled life, which can be proved by the excavation of the Jiangzhai clan site in Lintong of Shaanxi Province. Besides husbandry, fishing, hunting, collecting and livestock breeding also became their major pocketbook.

The craft technique level of the Yangshao Culture can be best represented by the pottery technique, which was quite mature then with wheel-technique being used in some areas. The pottery decorated with red, black and white patterns was the greatest artistic achievement then. Hence, the Yangshao Culture is also known as the ancient painted pottery culture.

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