Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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Haplogroup N

Haplogroup N

Haplogroup N


Turkic People

Liao Civilization


Xinglongwa culture

Zhaobaogou culture

Xinle culture

Hongshan culture

Lower Xiajiadian culture

Upper Xiajiadian culture

Yangshao culture

Sino-Tibetan Languages

Cishan culture

Peiligang culture


Beixin culture

Houli culture

Majiayao culture

Qijia culture

Dawenkou culture

Liangzhu culture

Hemudu culture

Haplogroup N

Haplogroup N-M231 is most commonly found in males originating from northern Eurasia. It also has been observed at lower frequencies in populations native to other regions, including the Balkans, Central Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific. Haplogroup NO-M214 – its most recent common ancestor with its sibling, haplogroup O-M175 – is estimated to have existed about 36,800–44,700 years ago.

It is generally considered that N-M231 arose in East Asia approximately 19,400 (±4,800) years ago and re-populated northern Eurasia after the Last Glacial Maximum. Males carrying the marker apparently moved northwards as the climate warmed in the Holocene, migrating in a counter-clockwise path (through modern China and Mongolia), to eventually become concentrated in areas as far away as Fennoscandia and the Baltic. The apparent dearth of haplogroup N-M231 amongst Native American peoples indicates that it spread after Beringia was submerged about 11,000 years ago.

It has been found with greatest frequency among indigenous peoples of Russia, including Finnic peoples, Mari, Udmurt, Komi, Khanty, Mansi, Nenets, Nganasans, Turkic peoples (Yakuts, Dolgans, Khakasses, Tuvans, Tatars, Chuvashes, etc.), Buryats, Tungusic peoples (Evenks, Evens, Negidals, Nanais, etc.), Yukaghirs, Luoravetlans (Chukchis, Koryaks), and Siberian Eskimos.

Especially in ethnic Finnic peoples and Baltic-speaking peoples of northern Europe, the Ob-Ugric-speaking and Northern Samoyed peoples of western Siberia, and Turkic-speaking peoples of Russia (especially Yakuts), but also Altaians, Shors, Khakas, Chuvashes, Tatars, and Bashkirs).

Certain subclades are very common in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and other subclades are quite common in China (Yi, Naxi, Lhoba, Han Chinese, etc.). Nearly all members of haplogroup N among these populations of northern Eurasia belong to subclades of either haplogroup N-Tat or haplogroup N-P43. N-M178 was also found in two Na-Dené speaking Tłı̨chǫs in North America.

N-M231* has been found at low levels in China and Cambodia. Out of a sample of 165 Han males from China, two individuals (1.2%) were found to belong to N*. One originated from Guangzhou and one from Xi’an.

Haplogroup N1b has been predominantly found in populations of southwestern China. However, it also has been found in people all over China as well as in Poland, Bhutan, Japan, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

N2-Y6503, the other primary subclade of haplogroup N, is extremely rare and is mainly represented among extant humans by a recently formed subclade that is virtually restricted to the countries making up the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro), Hungary and Austria. Other members of N2-Y6503 include a Hungarian with recent ancestry from Suceava in Bukovina, a Slovakian, a few British individuals, and an Altaian.

Most samples from the Liao civilization in northeastern China and northern Korea belonged to y-DNA N. N has been found in many samples of Neolithic human remains exhumed from northeastern China and the circum-Baikal area of southern Siberia.

It is thus suggested that the ancestors of the Uralic-peoples and of the Turkic-Yakut peoples may have originated in this region about 8000-6000 years ago. Genetically the Yakuts are a hybrid population, but culturally they are Turkic. 


The Yakuts, or the Sakha, are a Turkic ethnic group who mainly live in the Republic of Sakha in the Russian Federation, with some extending to the Amur, Magadan, Sakhalin regions, and the Taymyr and Evenk Autonomous Districts. They originally lived around Olkhon and the region of Lake Baikal.

Beginning in the 13th century they migrated to the basins of the Middle Lena, the Aldan and Vilyuy rivers under the pressure of the rising Mongols. In the 1620s the Tsardom of Muscovy began to move into their territory and annexed or settled down on it, imposed a fur tax and managed to suppress several Yakut rebellions between 1634 and 1642.

The Yakut language, also known as Yakutian, Sakha, Saqa or Saxa, belongs to the Siberian branch of the Turkic languages. Like most Turkic languages and their ancestral Proto-Turkic, Yakut is an agglutinative language and employs vowel harmony. The Russian word yakut was taken from Evenk jeko. The Yakuts call themselves sakha or urangai sakha in some old chronicles.

The Proto-Turkic language is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Turkic languages that was spoken by the Proto-Turks before their divergence into the various Turkic peoples. Proto-Turkic separated into Oghur (western) and Common Turkic (eastern) branches. One estimate postulates Proto-Turkic to have been spoken 2,500 years ago in Mongolia in East Asia.

Within the last 2,000 years the Turkic languages have rapidly spread across Eurasia. Most of the expansion was to the south and west, but as you can see, some pushed their way into Siberia. These are the Yakuts.

The Yakuts engage in animal husbandry, traditionally having focused on rearing horses, mainly the Yakutian horse, reindeer and the Sakha Ynagha (Yakutian cow), a hardy kind of cattle known as Yakutian cattle which is well-adapted to the harsh local weather. The northern Yakuts were largely hunters, fishermen and reindeer herders, while the southern Yakuts raised cattle and horses.

The Yakuts contrast strikingly with other populations from Siberia due to their cattle- and horse-breeding economy as well as their Turkic language. On the basis of ethnological and linguistic criteria as well as population genetic studies, it has been assumed that they originated from different South Siberian populations.

We can trace the origins of the male lineages to a small group of horse-riders from the Cis-Baikal area. Furthermore, mtDNA data showed that intermarriages between the first settlers with Evenks women led to the establishment of genetic characteristics during the 15th century that are still observed today.

the ancient DNA confirm continuity between the original Yakuts and present day Yakuts, by and large. On the other hand, there is evidence for asymmetrical gene flow in regards to the sexes. It seems that the Turkic males who arrived from the south with their pastoralist culture took wives from the Evenks, a local Tungusic group.

The Evenks or Ewenki are sometimes conjectured to be connected to the Shiwei people who inhabited the Greater Khingan Range in the 500-900 AD, although the native land of the majority of Evenki people is in the vast regions of Siberia between Lake Baikal and the Amur River.

The Shiwei-Mongols were closely related to the Khitan people to their south. The Khitan people were a nomadic people and proto-Mongols from Northeast Asia who, from the 4th century, inhabited an area corresponding to parts of modern Mongolia, Northeast China and the Russian Far East.

Chinese dynastic histories describe the Shiwei as somewhat related to the Khitan, who were of Xianbei origin, an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China.

The Xianbei were an ancient nomadic people that once resided in the eastern Eurasian steppes in what is today Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, and Northeastern China. They originated from the Donghu people (lit: “Eastern foreigners” or “Eastern barbarians”) who splintered into the Wuhuan and Xianbei when they were defeated by the Xiongnu at the end of the 3rd century BC.

Donghu was a tribal confederation of nomadic people that was first recorded from the 700 BC and was destroyed by the Xiongnu in 150 BCE. They lived in northern Hebei, southeastern Inner Mongolia and the western part of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang along the Yan Mountains and Greater Khingan Range.

Among the northern ethnic groups, the Donghu was the earliest to evolve into a state of civilization and first developed bronze technology. They spoke proto-Mongolian language and their culture was associated with the Upper Xiajiadian culture, characterized by the practice of agriculture and animal husbandry supplemented by handicrafts and bronze art.

Through the use of cavalry and bronze weaponry in warfare, the Donghu dominated over the Xiongnu on their west. The Xiongnu were a tribal confederation of nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Chinese sources report that Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC, founded the Xiongnu Empire.

After their previous rivals, the Yuezhi, migrated into Central Asia during the 2nd century BC, the Xiongnu became a dominant power on the steppes of north-east Central Asia, centered on an area known later as Mongolia. 

The ancestors of the south-eastern Evenks have most likely been in the Baikal region of Southern Siberia (near the modern-day Mongolian border) since the Neolithic era. The origin of the Evenks is the result of complex processes, different in time, involving the mixing of different ancient aboriginal tribes from the north of Siberia with tribes related in language to the Turks and Mongols.

The language of these tribes took precedence over the languages of the aboriginal population”. Elements of more modern Evenk culture, including conical tent dwellings, bone fish-lures, and birch-bark boats, were all present in sites that are believed to be Neolithic. From Lake Baikal they spread to the Amur and Okhotsk Sea, the Lena Basin and the Yenisey Basin.

The Ewenki language forms the northern branch of the Manchu-Tungusic language group and is closely related to Even and Negidal in Siberia. By 1600 the Evenks or Ewenki of the Lena and Yenisey river valleys were successful reindeer herders.

The Yakuts also may serve as an example of a particular mode of long distance gene flow which was possible only with the rise of horses. There are of course normal exchanges between neighboring populations, or, on occasion forcible assimilation.

But with nomadism there came to be the possible of leap-frogging and transplantation of cultures and populations at great distances. The Hungarians, Hazara and Anatolian Turks are all examples of this dynamic. It also seems that while localized gene flow is more likely to be female-mediated (due to dominance of patrilocality worldwide), this long range gene flow is more likely to be male-mediated.

The majority of Yakut males belong to Haplogroup N-Tat, or N1a1, with the observed frequency in most samples of Yakuts being approximately 90% (Central Yakut 86%, Yakut 89%, Vilyuy Yakut 93%, Yakut 94%). However, a sample of Yakut males from northern Yakutia has revealed a somewhat lower frequency of this haplogroup (Northern Yakut 47/66 = 71% N-TAT).

The remainder of the Yakut Y-DNA pool consists of members of haplogroup C-M217 (approximately 4.0%, including members of the C-M48 and C-M407 subclades), haplogroup R1a-M17 (approximately 3.5%, including members of the R1a-M458 subclade), and haplogroup N-P43 (approximately 2.1%), with sporadic instances of haplogroup I1-M253, haplogroup R1b-M269, haplogroup J2, and haplogroup Q.

A majority of Yakut people belong to mtDNA haplogroup C (75/164 = 45.7% Central Yakut, 60/148 = 40.5% Northern Yakut, 40/111 = 36.0% Vilyuy Yakut) or haplogroup D (54/164 = 32.9% Central Yakut, 33/111 = 29.7% Vilyuy Yakut, 38/148 = 25.7% Northern Yakut), with subclades D5a2a2 (57/423 = 13.48%), C4a1c (47/423 = 11.11%), C4a2 (35/423 = 8.27%), C4b1 (33/423 = 7.80%), and C5b1b (19/423 = 4.49%) being particularly well represented.

Minor mtDNA haplogroups of Eastern Eurasian origin include haplogroup G (22/423 = 5.20%, including 19/423 = 4.49% G2a and 3/423 = 0.71% G1b), haplogroup F (19/423 = 4.49%, including 13/423 = 3.07% F1b and 6/423 = 1.42% F2b1), haplogroup M13a1b (15/423 = 3.55%), haplogroup A (8/423 = 1.89%), haplogroup Y1a (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup B (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup Z3 (4/423 = 0.95%), and haplogroup M7 (3/423 = 0.71%).

A minority of Yakuts (42/423 = 9.93%) belong to mtDNA haplogroups of Western Eurasian origin, including haplogroup H (15/423 = 3.55%), haplogroup W (6/423 = 1.42%), haplogroup J1c5 (6/423 = 1.42%), haplogroup T2 (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup HV1a1a (5/423 = 1.18%), haplogroup R1b2a (2/423 = 0.47%), haplogroup U5b1b1a (2/423 = 0.47%), and haplogroup U4d2 (1/423 = 0.24%).

Turkic People

The Turkic peoples are a collection of ethno-linguistic groups of Central, Eastern, Northern and Western Asia as well as parts of Europe and North Africa. The origins of the Turkic people are a matter of contention among scholars. Yunusbayev suggested they may lie in a region stretching from the Transcaspian steppe to Manchuria.

According to several linguists southern Mongolia is the homeland of the early Turkic language. The Turkic peoples speak related languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits, common ancestry and historical backgrounds.

In time, different Turkic groups came in contact with other ethnicities, absorbing them, leaving some Turkic groups more diverse than the others. Many vastly differing ethnic groups have throughout history become part of the Turkic peoples through language shift, acculturation, intermixing, adoption and religious conversion. Despite this, many do share, to varying degrees, non-linguistic characteristics like cultural traits, ancestry from a common gene pool, and historical experiences.

The distribution of people of Turkic cultural background ranges from Siberia, across Central Asia, to Southern Europe. As of 2011 the largest groups of Turkic people live throughout Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan, in addition to Turkey and Iran.

The most notable modern Turkic-speaking ethnic groups include Turkish people, Azerbaijanis, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens, Kyrgyz and Uyghur people. Additionally, Turkic people are found within Crimea, Altishahr region of western China, northern Iraq, Israel, Russia, Afghanistan, and the Balkans: Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, and former Yugoslavia.

A small number of Turkic people also live in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Small numbers inhabit eastern Poland and the south-eastern part of Finland. There are also considerable populations of Turkic people (originating mostly from Turkey) in Germany, United States, and Australia, largely because of migrations during the 20th century.

Sometimes ethnographers group Turkic people into six branches: the Oghuz Turks, Kipchak, Karluk, Siberian, Chuvash, and Sakha/Yakut branches. The Oghuz have been termed Western Turks, while the remaining five, in such a classificatory scheme, are called Eastern Turks.

The genetic distances between the different populations of Uzbeks scattered across Uzbekistan is no greater than the distance between many of them and the Karakalpaks. This suggests that Karakalpaks and Uzbeks have very similar origins. The Karakalpaks have a somewhat greater bias towards the eastern markers than the Uzbeks.

The first known mention of the term Turk (Old Turkic: Türük, Kök Türük or Türk; meaning “origin”) applied to a Turkic group was in reference to the Göktürksin the Khüis Tolgoi inscription most-likely not later than 587 AD. A letter by Ishbara Qaghan to Emperor Wen of Sui in 585 described him as “the Great Turk Khan.” The Bugut (584 CE) and Orkhon inscription (735 CE) use the terms Türküt, Türk and Türük.

Previous use of similar terms are of unknown significance, although some strongly feel that they are evidence of the historical continuity of the term and the people as a linguistic unit since early times.

This includes Chinese records Spring and Autumn Annals referring to a neighbouring people as Beidi. During the first century CE, Pomponius Mela refers to the “Turcae” in the forests north of the Sea of Azov, and Pliny the Elder lists the “Tyrcae” among the people of the same area.

There are references to certain groups in antiquity whose names could be the original form of “Türk/Türük” such as Togarma, Turukha/Turuška, Turukku and so on. But the information gap is so substantial that a connect of these ancient people to the modern Turks is not possible. Turkologist Peter B. Golden posits that the term Turk has roots in Old Turkic.

It is generally accepted that the term “Türk” is ultimately derived from the Old-Turkic migration-term Türük/Törük, which means “created”, “born”, or “strong”, from the Old Turkic word root *türi-/töri- (“tribal root, (mythic) ancestry; take shape, to be born, be created, arise, spring up”) and conjugated with Old Turkic suffix (-ik), perhaps from Proto-Turkic *türi-k (“lineage, ancestry”). Compare also Proto-Turkic root *töre- “to be born, originate”.

The earliest Turkic-speaking peoples identifiable in Chinese sources are the Dingling, Gekun, and Xinli, located in South Siberia. The Chinese Book of Zhou (7th century) presents an etymology of the name Turk as derived from “helmet”, explaining that this name comes from the shape of a mountain where they worked in the Altai Mountains.

During the Middle Ages, various Turkic peoples of the Eurasian steppe were subsumed under the “umbrella-identity” of the “Scythians”. Between 400 CE and the 16th century, Byzantine sources use the name Skuthai in reference to twelve different Turkic peoples.

In the modern Turkish language as used in the Republic of Turkey, a distinction is made between “Turks” and the “Turkic peoples”: the term Türk corresponds specifically to the “Turkish-speaking” people (in this context, “Turkish-speaking” is considered the same as “Turkic-speaking”), while the term Türki refers generally to the people of modern “Turkic Republics” (Türki Cumhuriyetler or Türk Cumhuriyetleri). However, the proper usage of the term is based on the linguistic classification in order to avoid any political sense. In short, the term Türki can be used for Türk or vice versa.

Proposals for the homeland of the Turkic peoples and their language are far-ranging, from the Transcaspian steppe to Northeastern Asia (Manchuria). According to Yunusbayev, genetic evidence points to an origin in the region near South Siberia and Mongolia as the “Inner Asian Homeland” of the Turkic ethnicity.

Similarly several linguists, including Juha Janhunen, Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs, suggest that Mongolia is the homeland of the early Turkic language. According to Robbeets, proto-Turkic descends from the hypothetical proto-Transeurasian community.

This Transeurasian community, is associated with the Houwa and with the Hongshan culture in the Liao river basin. With the onset of desertification in Inner Mongolia in 2200 BCE, people from the western part of the Hongshan culture moved west, adapting to a nomadic pastoralist lifestyle in the eastern Eurasian steppes. Proto-Turkic may be identified with the millet cultivating Xinglongwa culture.

Authors Joo-Yup Lee and Shuntu Kuang analyzed 10 years of genetic research on Turkic people and compiled scholarly information about Turkic origins, and said that the early and medieval Turks were a heterogeneous group and that the Turkification of Eurasia was a result of language diffusion, not a migration of homogeneous population.

Turkic people may be related to the Xiongnu, Dingling and Tiele people. According to the Book of Wei, the Tiele people were the remnants of the Chidi, the red Di people competing with the Jin in the Spring and Autumn period. Historically they were established after the 6th century BCE.

Historical Arab and Persian descriptions of Turks state that they looked strange from their perspective and were extremely physically different from Arabs. Turks were described as “broad faced people with small eyes”. Medieval Muslim writers noted that Tibetans and Turks resembled each other, and that they often were not able to tell the difference between Turks and Tibetans.

Liao Civilization

The Liao River is the principal river in southern Northeast China, and one of the seven main river systems in mainland China. Its name derived from the Liao region, a historical name for southern Manchuria, from which the Liaoning province, Liaodong Peninsula and Liao dynasty also all have derived their names. The river is also popularly known as the “mother river” in Northeast China.

The Liao Civilization, or Liao River Civilization, named after the Liao river, is an ancient Northeast Asian civilization that originated in the Liao basin. It is thought to have formed in about 6200 BC. Since it was contemporaneous with Hwan‐huou civilization and Chang Jiang Culture, it is thought to have influenced ancient Chinese culture.

This civilization was discovered when Ryuzo Torii, a Japanese archaeologist, discovered the Hongshan culture in 1908. Large-scale pit-type houses, graves and temples with altars were excavated. It is thought that the Liao civilization may have been “a country” of the prehistoric age.

A model of the feng shui were excavated from remains of the Hongshan culture. Ball products such as the jade which made the precursors of Chinese dragon were discovered in remains of Xinglongwa culture. In addition, the oldest pit-comb ware and Liaoning bronze dagger (biwa form bronze sword) were excavated.

This region was thought to have been desert for the past 1 million years. However, a 2015 study found that the region once featured rich aquatic resources and deep lakes and forests that existed from 12.000 years ago to 4000 years ago.

It was changed into desert by climate change which began approximately 4200 years ago. Therefore, people of the Hongshan culture may have emigrated to the south approximately 4000 years ago and later influenced Chinese culture.

A genetic analysis of human bone remains dating back to 6500 to 2700 BC. in the Liao area, Haplogroup N (Y-DNA) (frequently in Uralic peoples and Yakuts) was observed at 60-100%.


Xinglonggou is a Neolithic through Bronze Age archaeological site complex consisting of three separate sites. The sites are located on a loess slope above the left bank of the Mangniu River north of the Qilaotu Mountains in Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia, China.

Xinglonggou is one of the most important sites of the early Neolithic Xinglongwa culture and provides evidence for the development of millet cultivation. The millet assemblage at Xinglonggou consists primarily of broomcorn millet. Xinglonggou is one of the few, early Neolithic sites in China for which systematic flotation has been performed.

Xinglonggou consists of three separate sites, each corresponding to a different archaeological culture. In chronological order, the oldest site (Xinglonggou 1) dates from around 8000 to 7500 BP and is associated with the Xinglongwa culture; the next site (Xinglonggou 2) dates from around 5500 to 5000 BP and is associated with the Hongshan culture; the youngest site (Xinglonggou 3) dates from around 4000 to 3500 BP and is associated with the Lower Xiajiadian culture.

The Xinglongwa site (Xinglonggou 1 or Locality 1) in an early Neolithic settlement. Of the three sites, the Xinglongwa site has the richest material assemblage. The site was excavated from 2001 to 2003. The site covers an area of around 48,000 m2 (516,668 sq ft), of which 5,600 m2 (60,278 sq ft) has been excavated.

The foundations of 145 rectangular semi-subterranean houses were found. The houses were organized into 3 distinct clusters of around 50 houses each, arranged in rows.[9] Unlike most other sites of the Xinglongwa culture, Xinglonggou 1 was not enclosed by a ditch. 37 of the houses have been excavated, where the remains of 28 individuals were found buried within. The remains of pig, red deer, dog, buffalo, badger, raccoon dog, bear, rabbit, and fish were also discovered at the site.

The artefact assemblage at the site includes pottery, lithic tools, and lithic, osseous, shell and jade ornaments. The site has yielded some of the earliest jade artefacts in China. The jade assemblage consists primarily of slit rings, although tubes, chisels and other artefacts were also found. The people of Xinglonggou appeared to favor yellow-green nephrite, a material that was not locally derived.

Residue analysis of starch grain remains from grinding stones and human dental calculus shows that the people of Xinglonggou were primarily processing lily bulbs (Lilium), Chinese yam (Dioscorea polystachya), Trichosanthes kirilowii root, Job’s tears, millet, and limited amounts of acorn and various Triticeae grasses.

The starch residue cereal remains are dominated by Job’s tears (over millet). The Job’s tears remains at Xinglonggou 1 is the earliest evidence for Job’s tears in Northeast China and the northernmost evidence for Job’s tears before 5000 BC.

Systemic flotation at the site yielded over 1,500 grains of broomcorn millet and around 20 grains of foxtail millet. The broomcorn millet is described as being in the early stages of domestication. and was directly dated to around 7,700 BP.

Consequently, this is the earliest directly dated millet in the archaeological record. Despite the evidence for limited millet cultivation, the early Neolithic people at Xinglonggou 1 subsisted primarily on hunting and gathering.

The Hongshan site (Xinglonggou 2 or Locality 2) is a late Neolithic settlement. The site was excavated in 2003 and 2012. The foundations of four rectangular semi-subterranean houses and 31 storage pits were found in the 2003 excavation.

The settlement was enclosed by a ditch. The artefact assemblage at the site includes pottery, lithic and shell artefacts. A terracotta statue was unearthed during the 2012 excavation.

The flora assemblage consisted mostly of nuts and fruits, yielding less millet, proportion-wise, than the early Neolithic Xinglonggou 1 site. The remains of acorn, Corylus heterophylla, Manchurian walnut, Pyrus betulaefolia and Prunus armeniaca were found at the site. Both broomcorn and foxtail millet were found at the Xinglonggou 2.

The Lower Xiajiadian site (Xinglonggou 3 or Locality 3) is a Bronze Age settlement. The site was excavated in 2003. The settlement was enclosed by a ditch. The flora assemblage at this site consists primarily of crop remains. Both broomcorn and foxtail millet were found at Xinglonggou 3. The site has yielded the earliest evidence for soybean in Northeast China.

The people at Xinglonggou consumed millet all the way from the early Neolithic through the Bronze Age, gradually increasing their millet consumption, as a proportion of their diet, over time. While only 15% of the seeds recovered from the early Neolithic Xinglongwa site consisted of millet, an overwhelming 99% of the seeds recovered from the Bronze Age Lower Xiajiadian site consisted of millet.

Isotopic analysis reveals that millet constituted a significant part of the people’s diet even during the early Neolithic Xinglongwa culture period, and steadily increased over time; analysis shows that this consumption came directly from millet itself, not indirectly from consuming animals that consumed millet. During the Bronze Age, millet cultivation eventually became abundant enough to provide an important source of food for the domesticated pigs at Xinglonggou.

Xinglongwa culture

The Xinglongwa culture (6200–5400 BC) was a Neolithic culture in northeastern China, found mainly around the Inner Mongolia-Liaoning border at the Liao River basin. Xinglongwa pottery was primarily cylindrical, and baked at low temperatures.

The Xinglongwa culture showed several signs of communal planning. At three Xinglongwa sites, houses were built in rows. Several Xinglongwa sites also featured a large central building. In addition, several Xinglongwa sites were surrounded by ditches.

The type site at Xinglongwa is located on the southwest side of a hill at Aohan Banner, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia; the site is named after a village 1.3 km to the southeast of the site. 120 pit-houses were discovered at Xinglongwa. Each home had a hearth at its center.

Xinglongwa also featured a large building in the center of the village. Xinglongwa is the earliest discovered site in China to be surrounded by a ditch. Xinglongwa also featured an unusual burial custom, as some bodies were buried directly under the houses. Like other Xinglongwa sites, jade objects were also discovered. In the most lavish grave, a man was buried with a pair of pigs, as well as jade objects.

According to the study of 34 sets of human remains from Xinglongwa in-house burials, male individuals apparently predominate over female individuals at roughly 2:1 ratio (23 males vs. 11 females). Within the male group, no individuals were identified as being over 55 in age, whereas all of females belong to middle-to-old age group (no one younger than 35 years old).

The youngest individuals examined were at age of 13 or 14 years old, so it’s suspected that children before mature sex-awareness age might not have participated in in-house burial ritual if they die.

From examined samples, the average height of male was between 163.8 cm and 168.8 cm, while the average height of female between 153.4 cm – 159.9 cm. Both male and female Xinglongwa individuals showed strong Mongoloid cranial features, and are thought to be the distant ancestors of the present-day Turkic peoples as well as of other Northeast Asians.

The recently discovered site at Xinglonggou is the only site of the culture to show evidence of any sort of agriculture, with evidence of millet remains. Some of the oldest Comb Ceramic artifacts were found in the Xinglongwa culture.

Zhaobaogou culture

The Zhaobaogou culture (5400–4500 BC) was a Neolithic culture in northeast China, found primarily in the Luan River valley in Inner Mongolia and northern Hebei.

The type site at Zhaobaogou, excavated in 1986, was discovered in Aohan Banner, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia. The site covers an area of around 90,000 m2.

The culture produced sand-tempered, incised pottery vessels with geometric and zoomorphic designs. The culture also produced stone and clay human figurines. 

Xinle culture

The Xinle culture (5500–4800 BC) was a Neolithic culture in northeast China, found primarily around the lower Liao River on the Liaodong Peninsula in Liaoning. The culture showed evidence of millet cultivation and pig domestication. The type site at Xinle was discovered in the Huanggu District of Shenyang, Liaoning. The site is named after an old inn, in which grounds the remains were first discovered.

The site of the ancient settlement was discovered in the grounds of an old accommodation block for an electrical factory. The accommodation block was called the Xinle Dormitory and hence the discovery was named the Xinle Relic.

When it was discovered that the settlement was that of a hitherto unknown civilization, the whole civilization was named after the relic and hence became known as the Xinle civilization. Although more recent discoveries in nearby areas have been extremely significant, especially one in Xinmin, the original name has prevailed.

In 1973, excavations at the site discovered evidence for some 40 neolithic houses. Artifacts uncovered during the dig included stone tools, pottery, jade, bone tools, wood carvings and refined coal.

In 1978, another dig uncovered yet more artifacts including one wooden carving that was some 7,200 years old, presumably a type of totem worshipped by the clan. No other find in the whole of Shenyang has been older, the find is also one of the oldest wooden carvings found anywhere in the world.

Hongshan culture

The Hongshan culture (4700-2900 BC) was a Neolithic culture in the Liao river basin. The culture is named after Hongshanhou, a site in Hongshan District, Chifeng. Hongshan sites have been found in an area stretching from Inner Mongolia to Liaoning.

In northeast China, Hongshan culture was preceded by Xinglongwa culture (6200–5400 BC), Xinle culture (5300–4800 BC), and Zhaobaogou culture, which may be contemporary with Xinle and a little later. Yangshao culture was in the larger area and contemporary with Hongshan culture. These two cultures interacted with each other.

A study by Yinqiu Cui et al. from 2013 found that 63% of the combined samples from various Hongshan archeological sites belonged to the subclades N1a and N1c of the paternal haplogroup N-M231 and calculated this to have been the predominant haplogroup in the region in the Neolithic period at 89%, its share gradually declining over time. Today this haplogroup is most common in Finland, the Baltic states and among northern Siberian ethnicities, such as the Yakuts.

Other paternal haplogroups identified in the study were C and O2a (O2a2), both of which predominate among the present-day inhabitants. Nelson et al. 2020 link proto-Turkic languages and the proto-Turkic people to the Hongshan culture in a wider neolithic “Transeurasian” context.

Hongshan burial artifacts include some of the earliest known examples of jade working. The Hongshan culture is known for its jade pig dragons and embryo dragons. Clay figurines, including figurines of pregnant women, are also found throughout Hongshan sites. Small copper rings were also excavated.

The archaeological site at Niuheliang is a unique ritual complex associated with the Hongshan culture. Excavators have discovered an underground temple complex—which included an altar—and also cairns in Niuheliang.

The temple was constructed of stone platforms, with painted walls. Archaeologists have given it the name Goddess Temple due to the discovery of a clay female head with jade inlaid eyes. It was an underground structure, 1m deep. Included on its walls are mural paintings.

Housed inside the Goddess Temple are clay figurines as large as three times the size of real-life humans. The exceedingly large figurines are possibly deities, but for a religion not reflective in any other Chinese culture.

The existence of complex trading networks and monumental architecture (such as pyramids and the Goddess Temple) point to the existence of a “chiefdom” in these prehistoric communities.

Painted pottery was also discovered within the temple. Over 60 nearby tombs have been unearthed, all constructed of stone and covered by stone mounds, frequently including jade artifacts. Cairns were discovered atop two nearby two hills, with either round or square stepped tombs, made of piled limestone. Entombed inside were sculptures of dragons and tortoises. It has been suggested that religious sacrifice might have been performed within the Hongshan culture.

Just as suggested by evidence found at early Yangshao culture sites, Hongshan culture sites also provide the earliest evidence for feng shui. The presence of both round and square shapes at Hongshan culture ceremonial centers suggests an early presence of the gaitian cosmography (“round heaven, square earth”). Early feng shui relied on astronomy to find correlations between humans and the universe.

Some Chinese archaeologists such as Guo Da-shun see the Hongshan culture as an important stage of early Chinese civilization. Whatever the linguistic affinity of the ancient denizens, Hongshan culture is believed to have exerted an influence on the development of early Chinese civilization. The culture also have contributed to the development of settlements in ancient Korea.

Lower Xiajiadian culture

The Lower Xiajiadian culture (2200–1600 BC) is an archaeological culture in Northeast China, found mainly in southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei and western Liaoning, China. The culture was preceded by the Hongshan culture, through the transitional Xiaoheyan culture. The type site is represented by the lower layer at Xiajiadian, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia.

Subsistence was based on millet farming supplemented with animal husbandry and hunting. Archaeological sites have yielded the remains of pigs, dogs, sheep and cattle. The culture built permanent settlements and achieved relatively high population densities. The population levels reached by the Lower Xiajiadian culture in the Chifeng region would not be matched until the Liao Dynasty.

The Liao dynasty, also known as the Liao Empire, officially the Great Liao, or the Khitan (Qidan) State, was an empire and imperial dynasty in East Asia that ruled from 916 to 1125 over present-day Northern and Northeast China, Mongolia and portions of the Russian Far East and North Korea.

The empire was founded by Yelü Abaoji (Emperor Taizu of Liao), Khagan of the Khitans around the time of the collapse of the Tang dynasty and was the first state to control all of Manchuria. Being ruled by the Khitan Yelü clan, the Liao dynasty is considered by historians to be a conquest dynasty of China.

Stone, bone and pottery artefacts were discovered at Lower Xiajiadian sites, while gold, lead, lacquer, jade, copper and bronze artefacts are also found. The most commonly found copper and bronze artefacts are earrings.

People of the Lower Xiajiadian practiced oracle bone divination. The culture prepared its oracle bones by drilling and polishing the bones before heating them. Inscriptions are generally not found on examples of oracle bones of the Lower Xiajiadian.

People had good access to local sources of stone, primarily basalt, which were often used in construction and tool-making. Lower Xiajiadian houses were typically round, made from mud and stone, and were built with stone walls.

Lower Xiajiadian settlements were built near and were protected by cliffs or steep slopes. Stone walls were sometimes erected around the non-sloped perimeter of its settlement. Walls were not thick. Walls with watchtowers and were built by sandwiching a rammed earth core with two sides of stone walls.

Upper Xiajiadian culture

The Upper Xiajiadian culture (c. 1000-600 BC) was a Bronze Age archaeological culture in Northeast China derived from the Eurasian steppe bronze tradition.

A culture found mainly in southeastern Inner Mongolia, northern Hebei and western Liaoning, China the Upper Xiajiadian’s range was slightly larger than that of the Lower Xiajiadian reaching areas north of the Xilamulun River.

Compared to the Lower Xiajiadian culture, population levels were lower, less dense, and more widespread. The culture still relied heavily on agriculture, but also moved toward a more pastoral, nomadic lifestyle.

The social structure changed from being an acephalous or tribal society into a more chiefdom-oriented society. The type site is represented by the upper layer at Xiajiadian, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia.

The Upper Xiajiadian culture produced inferior ceramic artifacts compared to those of the Lower Xiajiadian culture, although this was compensated by their superior bronze, bone and stone artifacts.

The culture is well known for its bronze objects, producing bronze daggers, axes, chisels, arrowheads, knives and helmets. Upper Xiajiadian bronzes were decorated with animal and natural motifs, which suggest possible Scythian affinities and indicate continued cultural contact and exchange across the Eurasian steppes.

The locally produced bronze vessels were much smaller than comparable bronzes from Zhou states. In the later periods, Zhou-style dagger-axes and bronze vessels were found at Upper Xiajiadian sites. In one case, bronze vessels belonging to the ruling family of the State of Xu were discovered in an Upper Xiajiadian grave at Xiaoheishigou, evidenced by the inscriptions on one of the vessels.

Upper Xiajiadian culture shows evidence of a drastic shift in lifestyle compared to that of the Lower Xiajiadian culture. The Upper Xiajiadian culture placed less emphasis on permanent structures, preferring to reoccupy Lower Xiajiadian structures or reuse Lower Xiajiadian stones for building Upper Xiajiadian structures.

The horse became important to the culture, as evidenced by the remains of horses and horse paraphernalia found at Upper Xiajiadian sites. The culture also moved away from a centralized social organization, as no evidence for large public works has been discovered at Upper Xiajiadian sites.

From relying on pigs to a dependence on sheep and goats for its primary source of domesticated protein, the culture built more extravagant graves for its elites than the Lower Xiajiadian, with more numerous and elaborate burial offerings. Upper Xiajiadian burials were typically marked by cairns and tumuli.

Yangshao culture

The Yangshao culture was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the Yellow River in China. It is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC. The culture is named after Yangshao, the first excavated site of this culture, which was discovered in 1921 in Mianchi County, Henan Province. The culture flourished mainly in the provinces of Henan, Shaanxi and Shanxi.

Recent research indicates a common origin of the Sino-Tibetan languages with the Cishan, Yangshao and/or the Majiayao cultures. The Majiayao culture (c. 3300–2000 BC) to the west is now considered a separate culture that developed from the middle Yangshao culture through an intermediate Shilingxia phase.

The main food of the Yangshao people was millet, with some sites using foxtail millet and others proso millet, though some evidence of rice has been found. The exact nature of Yangshao agriculture, small-scale slash-and-burn cultivation versus intensive agriculture in permanent fields, is currently a matter of debate.

Once the soil was exhausted, residents picked up their belongings, moved to new lands, and constructed new villages. However, Middle Yangshao settlements such as Jiangzhi contain raised-floor buildings that may have been used for the storage of surplus grains. Grinding stones for making flour were also found.

The Yangshao people kept pigs and dogs. Sheep, goats, and cattle are found much more rarely. Much of their meat came from hunting and fishing with stone tools. Their stone tools were polished and highly specialized. They may also have practiced an early form of sericulture.

The Yangshao culture crafted pottery. Yangshao artisans created fine white, red, and black painted pottery with human facial, animal, and geometric designs. Unlike the later Longshan culture, the Yangshao culture did not use pottery wheels in pottery-making. Excavations found that children were buried in painted pottery jars.

The Yangshao culture produced silk to a small degree and wove hemp. Men wore loin clothes and tied their hair in a top knot. Women wrapped a length of cloth around themselves and tied their hair in a bun.

Yangshao villages typically covered ten to fourteen acres and were composed of houses around a central square. Houses were built by digging a rounded rectangular pit a few feet deep. Then they were rammed, and a lattice of wattle was woven over it. Then it was plastered with mud. The floor was also rammed down.

Next, a few short wattle poles would be placed around the top of the pit, and more wattle would be woven to it. It was plastered with mud, and a framework of poles would be placed to make a cone shape for the roof. Poles would be added to support the roof. It was then thatched with millet stalks. There was little furniture; a shallow fireplace in the middle with a stool, a bench along the wall, and a bed of cloth. Food and items were placed or hung against the walls. A pen would be built outside for animals.

Although early reports suggested a matriarchal culture, others argue that it was a society in transition from matriarchy to patriarchy, while still others believe it to have been patriarchal. The debate hinges on differing interpretations of burial practices.

The discovery of a dragon statue dating back to the fifth millennium BC in the Yangshao culture makes it the world’s oldest known dragon depiction, and the Han Chinese continue to worship dragons to this day.

Yangshao, in Mianchi County, Sanmenxia, Henan, the place which gave the culture its name, has museum next to the archaeological site. The archaeological site of the village of Banpo near Xi’an is one of the best-known ditch-enclosed settlements of the Yangshao.

Another major settlement called Jiangzhai was excavated out to its limits, and archaeologists found that it was completely surrounded by a ring-ditch. Both Banpo and Jiangzhai also yielded incised marks on pottery which a few have interpreted as numerals or perhaps precursors to Chinese characters, but such interpretations are not widely accepted.

The Yangshao culture is conventionally divided into three phases: The early period or Banpo phase, c. 5000–4000 BC) is represented by the Banpo, Jiangzhai, Beishouling and Dadiwan sites in the Wei River valley in Shaanxi.

The middle period or Miaodigou phase, c. 4000–3500 BC) saw an expansion of the culture in all directions, and the development of hierarchies of settlements in some areas, such as western Henan.

The late period (c. 3500–3000 BC) saw a greater spread of settlement hierarchies. The first wall of rammed earth in China was built around the settlement of Xishan (25 ha) in central Henan (near modern Zhengzhou).

Sino-Tibetan Languages

Sino-Tibetan, in a few sources also known as Trans-Himalayan, is a family of more than 400 languages, second only to Indo-European in number of native speakers. The Sino-Tibetan language with the most native speakers is Mandarin Chinese (920 million), although since not all forms of Mandarin are mutually-intelligible, it may be regarded as a complex series of dialect continua. 

Other Sino-Tibetan languages with large numbers of speakers include Burmese (33 million) and the Tibetic languages (six million). Other languages of the family are spoken in the Himalayas, the Southeast Asian Massif, and the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau; the latter group, in most cases, have only small speech communities, in remote mountain areas, and as such are poorly documented.

Several low-level subgroups have been securely reconstructed, but reconstruction of a proto-language for the family as a whole is still at an early stage, so the higher-level structure of Sino-Tibetan remains unclear. Although the family is traditionally presented as divided into Sinitic (i.e. Chinese) and Tibeto-Burman branches, a common origin of the non-Sinitic languages has never been demonstrated. Several links to other language families have been proposed, but none has broad acceptance.

While most linguists do not include Kra–Dai and Hmong–Mien languages within Sino-Tibetan, Chinese linguists generally do include them. The Kra–Dai languages (also known as Tai–Kadai, Daic and Kadai) are a language family of tonal languages found in Mainland Southeast Asia, southern China and Northeast India. They include Thai and Lao, the national languages of Thailand and Laos respectively.

The Hmong–Mien (also known as Miao–Yao) languages are a highly tonal language family of southern China and northern Southeast Asia. They are spoken in mountainous areas of southern China, including Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Hubei provinces, where its speakers have been relegated to being “hill people”, whereas the neighboring Han Chinese have settled the more fertile river valleys.

Hmong (Miao) and Mien (Yao) are closely related, but clearly distinct. Early linguistic classifications placed the Hmong–Mien languages in the Sino-Tibetan family, where they remain in many Chinese classifications, but the current consensus among Western linguists is that they constitute a family of their own.

The family is believed to have had its origins in central-southern China. The current area of greatest agreement is that the languages appeared in the region between the Yangtze and Mekong rivers, but there is reason to believe that speakers migrated there from further north with the expansion of the Han Chinese.

The time of Proto-Hmong-Mien has been estimated to be about 2500 BP (500 BC) by Sagart, Blench, and Sanchez-Mazas using traditional methods employing many lines of evidence, and about 4243 BP by the Automated Similarity Judgment Program (ASJP), an experimental algorithm for automatic generation of phonologically based phylogenies.

Paul K. Benedict, an American scholar, extended the Austric theory to include the Hmong–Mien languages. The hypothesis never received much acceptance for Hmong–Mien, however. Kosaka (2002) argued specifically for a Miao–Dai family.

Cishan culture

The Cishan culture (6500–5000 BC) was a Neolithic culture in northern China, on the eastern foothills of the Taihang Mountains. The Cishan culture was based on the farming of broomcorn millet, the cultivation of which on one site has been dated back 10,000 years. This culture has been linked to the origin of the Sino-Tibetan language family.

The people at Cishan also began to cultivate foxtail millet around 8700 years ago. However, these early dates have been questioned by some archaeologists due to sampling issues and lack of systematic surveying. There is also evidence that the Cishan people cultivated barley and, late in their history, a japonica variety of rice.

Common artifacts from the Cishan culture include stone grinders, stone sickles and tripod pottery. The sickle blades feature fairly uniform serrations, which made the harvesting of grain easier. Cord markings, used as decorations on the pottery, was more common compared to neighboring cultures. Also, the Cishan potters created a broader variety of pottery forms such as basins, pot supports, serving stands, and drinking cups.

Since the culture shared many similarities with its southern neighbor, the Peiligang culture, both cultures were sometimes previously referred to together as the Cishan-Peiligang culture or Peiligang-Cishan culture.

The type site at Cishan is located in Wu’an, Hebei, China on a low elevation mesa. The site covers an area of around 80,000 m2 (861,113 sq ft). The houses at Cishan were semi-subterranean and round. The site showed evidence of domesticated pigs, dogs and chickens, with pigs providing the primary source of meat. The Cishan people hunted deer and wild boar.

Nuts (Juglans regia and Corylus heterophylla), Celtis bungeana, wild apricots and pears, and various roots and tubers were foraged from the surrounding forests. Fish was also an important part of the diet at Cishan, specifically carp and herring from the nearby river; fishing nets made from hemp fibers were used.

Over 500 subterranean storage pits were discovered at Cishan. These pits were used to store millet. The largest pits were 5 meters deep and capable of storing up to 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) of millet.

Peiligang culture

The Peiligang culture (7000-5000 BC) was a Neolithic culture in the Yi-Luo river basin (in modern Henan Province, China). The culture is named after the site discovered in 1977 at Peiligang, a village in Xinzheng County. Over 100 sites have been identified with the Peiligang culture, nearly all of them in a fairly compact area of about 100 square kilometers in the area just south of the river and along its banks.

Archaeologists believe that the Peiligang culture was egalitarian, with little political organization. The culture practiced agriculture in the form of cultivating millet and animal husbandry in the form of raising pigs, cattle and poultry. The people hunted deer and wild boar, and fished for carp in the nearby river, using nets made from hemp fibers. The culture is also one of the oldest in ancient China to make pottery.

This culture typically had separate residential and burial areas, or cemeteries, like most Neolithic cultures. Common artifacts include stone arrowheads, spearheads and axe heads; stone tools such as chisels, awls and sickles for harvesting grain; and a broad assortment of pottery items for such purposes as cooking and storing grain.


The site at Jiahu, the site of a Neolithic settlement based in the central plain of ancient China, near the Yellow River, is the earliest site associated with Peiligang culture. It is located between the floodplains of the Ni River to the north, and the Sha River to the south, 22 km (14 mi) north of the modern city of Wuyang, Henan Province.

Most archaeologists consider the site to be one of the earliest examples of the Peiligang culture. Settled around 7000 BC, the site was later flooded and abandoned around 5700 BC. The settlement was surrounded by a moat and covered a relatively large area of 55,000 square meters (5.5 hectare). At one time, it was “a complex, highly organized Chinese Neolithic society,” home to at least 250 people and perhaps as many as 800.

Archaeologists are divided about the relationship between Jiahu and the main group. Most agree that Jiahu, which was isolated several days’ travel to the south of the main group, was part of the Peiligang culture, pointing to the many similarities.

A few archaeologists are pointing to the differences, as well as the distance, believing that Jiahu was a neighbor that shared many cultural characteristics with Peiligang, but was a separate culture. The cultivation of rice, for example, was unique to Jiahu and was not practiced among the villages of the main Peiligang group in the north. Also, Jiahu existed for several hundred years before any of the settlements of the main group.

The important discoveries of the Jiahu archaeological site include the Jiahu symbols, possibly an early example of proto-writing, carved into tortoise shells and bones; the thirty-three Jiahu flutes carved from the wing bones of cranes, believed to be among the oldest playable musical instruments in the world; and evidence of wine fermented from rice, honey and hawthorn leaves.

A broad variety of other artifacts indicates a fairly advanced settlement for the early Neolithic period, including residences, burial sites, pottery kilns, an assortment of implements made of stone and earthenware, and a large central structure believed to be a communal workspace. To date, 45 residences have been excavated at Jiahu.

Most of these are small, between four and ten meters. Most of these were semi-subterranean (partially dug into the earth) and with a single room; however, some of these had additional rooms built on later. Rubbish pits and storage cellars were also excavated, and nine pottery kilns were identified.

Some archaeologists point to cultural distinctions between Jiahu and Peiligang, as well as the distance: Jiahu is isolated, many kilometers south of the larger Peiligang grouping of over 100 archaeological sites in a fairly compact area. The distance would have represented a journey on foot of several days in the Neolithic era.

This school of thought suggests that Jiahu and Peiligang represented separate, neighboring cultures that interacted and shared many characteristics. Other early Neolithic settlements in this part of the world were much farther south and east.

Archaeologists have divided Jiahu into three distinct phases. The oldest phase ranges from 7000 to 6600 BC; the middle phase ranges from 6600 to 6200 BC; and the last phase ranges from 6200 to 5700 BC. The last two phases correspond to the Peiligang culture, while the earliest phase is unique to Jiahu.

Careful examination of the skeletons of over 400 individuals, removed from more than 300 graves, by several scientific teams over the course of the past 30 years proves that the Jiahu ethnic group was a part of the North Asian Mongoloid group, and identified closely with the Miaodigou and Xiawanggang sub-groups which were also descendants of hunting and gathering tribes in Henan Province, and the Dawenkou, Xixiahou and Yedian sub-groups that were later found in Shandong Province.

Beixin culture

The Cishan culture also shared several similarities with its eastern neighbor, the Beixin culture (5300–4100 BC). However, the contemporary consensus among archaeologists is that the Cishan people were members of a distinct culture that shared many characteristics with its neighbors.

The Beixin culture was a Neolithic culture in Shandong, China. It was the successor of the Houli culture (6500–5500 BC) and precursor of the Dawenkou culture (4100–2600 BC). The type site at Beixin was discovered in Tengzhou, Shandong, China.

Fifty sites from the culture were discovered, located in central and southern Shandong and northern Jiangsu provinces. These show evidence of millet cultivation and water buffalo, pig, and chicken domestication.

The Beixin people fished for carp in the nearby river, hunted deer, and foraged for wild pears, roots and tubers. Typical artifacts from the Beixin culture include stone axe heads, spearheads and arrowheads from hunting weapons, and stone sickle blades used to harvest grain.

They made extensive use of hemp fibers to weave fabric for clothing, to make baskets, and for various forms of thread, twine and rope, including their fishing nets. There is no evidence of hemp cultivation, but it grew wild in great abundance throughout the region. Small quantities of hemp seeds have been recovered, but archaeologists believe these were acquired as a food source rather than for planting.

Houses tended to be semi-subterranean and circular in shape. The Beixin people had separate housing and burial areas in the settlements, which was common for early Neolithic cultures. The houses and burial areas were clustered in small groups, which indicated a family or clan social structure in both life and death. Tools, weapons, and other articles buried with the dead as burial offerings, in the more recent gravesites, indicated development of a type of early ceremonial burial.

Examination of the remains indicates steady population growth over the history of the Beixin people, as well as a steady increase in lifespan, which suggests improvements in nutrition and health. Chemical analysis of the abundant pottery shards found at the sites indicates that pork and millet were the staples of the Beixin diet, supplemented by venison, chicken, eggs, and a plentiful assortment of fruits and vegetables. This represents a broadly varied and very nutritious diet by Neolithic standards.

Violent death, as revealed by examination of the remains, was relatively uncommon among the Beixin people compared with other Neolithic cultures. Death was almost always attributed to disease or the results of old age. This indicates that the Beixin were a peaceful culture, and not troubled by internal strife or conflicts with neighboring cultures.

Houli culture

The Houli culture (6500–5500 BC) was a Neolithic culture in Shandong, China. The type site at Houli was discovered in the Linzi District of Shandong and was excavated from 1989 to 1990. The culture was followed by the Beixin culture.

The people of the culture lived in square, semi-subterranean houses. The most commonly found artefacts at Houli sites are pottery and stone tools. Jade artefacts and bone, antler, shell tools were also found at Houli sites.

While the remains of domesticated dogs and pigs in the early stages of domestication were found at some sites associated with the culture, the people of the Houli culture relied mostly on hunting and fishing. The remains of rice, broomcorn millet, and foxtail millet were discovered at Houli sites.

Currently, about a dozen sites have been found to be associated with the Houli culture. Five sites from the culture have been excavated so far. Aside from the type site at Houli, excavations have also taken place at Xihe, Xiaojingshan, Qianbuxia, and Yuezhang.

Archaeologists excavated domesticated millet from the Yuezhuang site. The millet found at Yuezhuang was predominately broomcorn millet and dated to around 8000 BP, making it one of the earliest sites in China to show evidence of millet cultivation. Rice grains were also found at the site. The carbonized rice was dated using AMS radiocarbon dating to 8010-7700 BP.

Footed stone grinding slabs, in a style identical to those found at the Peiligang culture, were discovered at Yuezhang. This similarity is most likely due to technological transfer. No evidence for domesticated animals were found at Yuezhang, as the animal bones found at the site all came from wild animals.

During the late stages of the culture, the Qijia culture retreated from the west and suffered a reduction in population size. Some scholars hold that Siwa culture was a descendant of the Qijia culture. Also, Kayue culture is believed by some to have developed from the western part of the Qijia culture.

Majiayao culture

The Majiayao culture (3300 to 2000 BC) was a group of neolithic communities who lived primarily in the upper Yellow River region in eastern Gansu, eastern Qinghai and northern Sichuan, China. The transition from Yangshao to Majiayao coincides, climatically, with the Piora Oscillation.

The Majiayao culture represents the first time that the upper Yellow River region was widely occupied by agricultural communities and it is famous for its painted pottery, which is regarded as a peak of pottery manufacturing at that time.

The archaeological site was first found in 1924 near the village of Majiayao in Lintao County, Gansu by Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson, who considered it part of the Yangshao culture.

Following the work of Xia Nai, the founder of modern archaeology in the People’s Republic of China, it has since been considered a distinct culture, named after the original site, whereas previously it had been referred to as the “Gansu Yangshao” culture.

This culture developed from the middle Yangshao (Miaodigou) phase, through an intermediate Shilingxia phase. The culture is often divided into three phases: Majiayao (3300–2500 BC), Banshan (2500–2300 BC) and Machang (2300–2000 BC).

Majiayao phase (3300–2500 BC) sites are mostly found on terraces along: the upper Wei River valley; upper Bailong River valley; middle and lower Tao River and Daxia River valleys; upper Yellow River valley; the Huangshui River; and lower Datong River.

The most distinctive artifacts of the Majiayao culture are the painted pottery. During the Majiayao phase, potters decorated their wares with designs in black pigment featuring sweeping parallel lines and dots.

Pottery of the Banshan phase is distinguished by curvilinear designs using both black and red paints. Machang-phase pottery is similar, but often not as carefully finished. Its development is associated with interaction between hunter-gatherers in the Qinghai region and the westward expansion of agricultural Yangshao people.

In contrast to plain pottery, the Majiayao painted pottery was produced at large, centralised workshops. The largest Neolithic workshop found in China is at Baidaogouping, Gansu.

The manufacture of large amounts of painted pottery means there were professional craftspeople to produce it, which is taken to indicate increasing social complexity. Control over the production process and quality declined by the Banshan phase, potentially due to greater demand for pottery to use in funeral rituals, similar to what Hung Ling-yu calls the “modern Wal-Mart syndrome”.

The oldest bronze object found in China was a knife found at a Majiayao site in Dongxiang, Gansu, and dated to 2900–2740 BC. Further copper and bronze objects have been found at Machang-period sites in Gansu. Metallurgy spread to the middle and lower Yellow River region in the late 3rd millennium BC.

Scholars have come to the conclusion that the development of the Majiayao culture was highly related to climate changes. A group of scholars from Lanzhou University have researched climate changes during the Majiayao culture and the results indicate that the climate was wet during 5830 to 4900 BP, which promoted the development of early and middle Majiayao culture in eastern Qinghai province.

However, from 4900 to 4700 BP, the climate underwent droughts in this area, which may be responsible for the decline and eastward movement of prehistoric cultures during the period of transition from early-mid to late Majiayao culture.

Qijia culture

At the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the Qijia culture (2200 BC – 1600 BC), an early Bronze Age culture distributed around the upper Yellow River region of Gansu (centered in Lanzhou) and eastern Qinghai, succeeded the Majiayao culture at sites in three main geographic zones: eastern Gansu, central Gansu, and western Gansu/eastern Qinghai.

The Qijia culture is regarded as one of the earliest bronze cultures in China. It is named after the Qijiaping Site in Gansu Province. Prior to Qijia culture, in the same area there existed Majiayao culture that was also familiar with metalwork. Qijia culture produced some of the earliest bronze and copper mirrors found in China. Extensive domestication of horses are found at many Qijia sites.

Qijia culture was a sedentary culture, based on agriculture, and breeding pigs, which were also used in sacrifices. Qijia culture is distinguished by a presence of numerous domesticated horses, and practice of oracle divination, the metal knives and axes recovered apparently point to some interactions with Siberian and Central Asian cultures, in particular with the Seima-Turbino complex. Archeological evidence points to plausible early contact between the Qijia culture and Central Asia.

The archaeological sites at Lajia, Huangniangniangtai, Qinweijia, and Dahezhuang are associated with the Qijia culture. Qijia sites were also found in Ningxia province and Inner Mongolia. A total of over 350 sites of the Qijia culture have been found superimposed on the Majiayao culture.

A large quantity of metal ware, mostly copper objects, including some bronzes, have been excavated from various sites in Gansu province and at Gamatai in Qinghai province. 25 pieces of metalwork were analyzed for their composition. Those made from copper were the most numerous, accounting for 64 per cent of the total. The rest represented various copper alloys, including tin.

Techniques of pottery-making are marked by a fine red ware and a coarse reddish-brown ware. There are also a few pieces of grey ware. They are handmade, there being no evidence of wheel-made ware.[3] While the Qijia culture pottery has its own stylistic characteristics, it also shares many traits in common with the Longshan culture in Shaanxi. Some elements of the Majiayao culture are also present.

Machang culture also flourished in 2500–2000 BC along the Yellow River; it was an outgrowth of the Banshan culture. Machang culture was partly contemporary with the Qijia; although they were quite different, there was cultural exchange between them. Some scholars consider Machang culture as only a phase of the larger Majiayao culture; they also say that the Qijia derived from the Machang.

The Qijia Culture Cemetery at Mogou in Lintan County, Gansu was excavated beginning from 2008. More than one thousand graves have been found there. The area was inhabited during the first half of the second millennium BCE. Thousands of funerary goods have been found, such as pottery vessels, bone ornaments and implements, shells, and metal objects.

To date, this represents by far the biggest find of copper and bronze objects ascribed to the Qijia culture, as more than three hundred items were found here. The finds are mostly implements, such as knives, and ornaments, such as buttons, earrings and beads. Some types of objects, such as torques and armbands, were not found before.

Examination reveals that tin bronze (Cu-Sn) was the most important alloy used at the Mogou site. Other alloys, such as Cu-Sn-Pb (lead) and Cu-Sn-As (arsenic), were also in use. Some items were manufactured by casting and hot-forging. Two iron fragments were recently excavated at the Mogou cemetery. They have been dated to the 14th century BC. One of the fragments was made of bloomery iron rather than meteoritic iron.

Dawenkou culture

The Dawenkou culture (4100 to 2600 BC) is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu, China. Scholars have also noted similarities between the Dawenkou and the Liangzhu culture (3400–2250 BC), the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta of China, as well as the related cultures of the Yantze River basin.

According to some scholars, the Dawenkou culture may have a link with a pre-Austronesian language. Other researchers also note a similarity between Dawenkou inhabitants and modern Austronesian people in cultural practices such as tooth avulsion and architecture. However, the people of Dawenkou exhibited a primarily Sinodont dental pattern. The Dawenkou were also physically dissimilar to the neolithic inhabitants of Hemudu, Southern China and Taiwan.

The type site at Dawenkou, located in Tai’an, Shandong, was excavated in 1959, 1974 and 1978. Only the middle layer at Dawenkou is associated with the Dawenkou culture, as the earliest layer corresponds to the Beixin culture and the latest layer corresponds to the early Shandong variant of the Longshan culture.

The physical similarity of the Jiahu people to the later Dawenkou (2600 BC±4300 BC) indicates that the Dawenkou might have descended from the Jiahu, following a slow migration along the middle and lower reaches of the Huai river and the Hanshui valley.

Other scholars have also speculated that the Dawenkou originate in nearby regions to the south. The Dawenkou culture descends from the Beixin culture, but is deeply influenced by the northward expanding Longqiuzhuang culture located between the Yangtze and Huai rivers.

The culture existed co-existed and interacted extensively with the Yangshao culture. For two and a half millennia of its existence the Dawenkou was, however, in a dynamic interchange with the Yangshao Culture, in which process of interaction it sometimes had the lead role, notably in generating Longshan.

Turquoise, jade and ivory artefacts are commonly found at Dawenkou sites. The earliest examples of alligator drums appear at Dawenkou sites. Neolithic signs, perhaps related to subsequent scripts, such as those of the Shang Dynasty, have been found on Dawenkou pottery.

Archaeologists commonly divide the culture into three phases: the early phase (4100–3500 BC), the middle phase (3500–3000 BC) and the late phase (3000–2600 BC). Based on the evidence from grave goods, the early phase was highly egalitarian. The phase is typified by the presence of individually designed, long-stemmed cups. Graves built with earthen ledges became increasingly common during the latter parts of the early phase.

During the middle phase, grave goods began to emphasize quantity over diversity. During the late phase, wooden coffins began to appear in Dawenkou burials. The culture became increasingly stratified, as some graves contained no grave goods while others contained a large quantity of grave goods.

The term “chiefdom” seems to be appropriate in describe the political organization of the Dawenkou. A dominant kin group likely held sway over Dawenkou village sites, though power was most likely manifested through religious authority rather than coercion. Unlike the Beixin culture from which they descend, the people of the Dawenkou culture were noted for being engaged in violent conflict. Scholars suspect that they may have engaged in raids for land, crops, livestock and prestige goods.

The warm and wet climate of the Dawenkou area was suitable for a variety of crops, though they primarily farmed millet at most sites. Their production of millet was quite successful and storage containers have been found that could have contained up to 2000 kg of millet, once decomposition is accounted for, have been found.

For some of the southern Dawenkou sites, rice was a more important crop however, especially during the late Dawenkou period. Analysis done on human remains at Dawenkou sites in southern Shandong revealed that the diet of upper-class Dawenkou individuals consisted mainly of rice, while ordinary individuals ate primarily millet.

The Dawenkou successfully domesticated chicken, dogs, pigs and cattle, but no evidence of horse domestication was found. Pig remains are by far most abundant, accounting for about 85% of the total, and are thought to be the most important domesticated animal.

Pig remains were also found in Dawenkou burials also highlighting their importance. Seafood was also an important staple of the Dawenkou diet. Fish and various shellfish mounds have been found in the early periods indicating that they were important food sources. Although these piles became less frequent in the later stages, seafood remained an important part of the diet.

Liangzhu culture

The Liangzhu culture was highly stratified, as jade, silk, ivory and lacquer artifacts were found exclusively in elite burials, while pottery was more commonly found in the burial plots of poorer individuals. This division of class indicates that the Liangzhu period was an early state, symbolized by the clear distinction drawn between social classes in funeral structures. A pan-regional urban center had emerged at the Liangzhu city-site and elite groups from this site presided over the local centers.

The Liangzhu culture was extremely influential and its sphere of influence reached as far north as Shanxi and as far south as Guangdong. It is believed to be East Asia’s first state society. The type site at Liangzhu was discovered in Yuhang County, Zhejiang and initially excavated by Shi Xingeng in 1936.

A 2007 analysis of the DNA recovered from human remains shows high frequencies of Haplogroup O1 in Liangzhu culture linking this culture to modern Austronesian and Tai-Kadai populations. It is believed that the Liangzhu culture or other associated subtraditions are the ancestral homeland of Austronesian speakers.

The Liangzhu culture existed in coastal areas around the mouth of the Yangtze. Haplogroup O1 was absent in other archeological sites inland. The authors of the study suggest that this may be evidence of two different human migration routes during the peopling of Eastern Asia, one coastal and the other inland, with little genetic flow between them.

The Liangzhu Culture entered its prime about 4000 ~ 5000 years ago, but suddenly disappeared from the Taihu Lake area about 4200 years ago when it reached the peak. There are almost no traces in the following years in this area.

Recent research has shown that the development of human settlements was interrupted several times by rising waters. This led researchers to conclude the demise of the Liangzhu culture was brought about by extreme environmental changes such as floods, as the cultural layers are usually interrupted by muddy or marshy and sandy–gravelly layers with buried paleo trees.

Some evidence suggests that the Taihu lake was formed as an impact crater only 4500 years ago, which could help explain the disappearance of the Liangzhu culture. However, other work does not find an impact crater structure or shocked minerals at Taihu Lake.

Hemudu culture

The Hemudu culture (5500 BC to 3300 BC) was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China. The culture may be divided into an early and late phases, before and after 4000 BC respectively.

The site at Hemudu, 22 km north-west of Ningbo, was discovered in 1973. Hemudu sites were also discovered at Tianluoshan in Yuyao city, and on the islands of Zhoushan. Hemudu are said to have differed physically from inhabitants of the Yellow River sites to the north. Some authors propose that the Hemudu Culture was a source of the pre-Austronesian cultures.

Some scholars assert that the Hemudu culture co-existed with the Majiabang culture as two separate and distinct cultures, with cultural transmissions between the two. Other scholars group Hemudu in with Majiabang subtraditions.

Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with salt, forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. The Hemudu people lived in long, stilt houses. Communal longhouses were also common in Hemudu sites, much like the ones found in modern-day Borneo.

The Hemudu culture was one of the earliest cultures to cultivate rice. Recent excavations at the Hemudu period site of Tianluoshan has demonstrated rice was undergoing evolutionary changes recognized as domestication. Most of the artifacts discovered at Hemudu consist of animal bones, exemplified by hoes made of shoulder bones used for cultivating rice.

The culture also produced lacquer wood. A red lacquer wood bowl at the Zhejiang Museum is dated to: 4000~5000 BC. It is believed to be the earliest such object in the world. The remains of various plants, including water caltrop, Nelumbo nucifera, acorns, melon, wild kiwifruit, blackberries, peach, the foxnut or Gorgon euryale and bottle gourd, were found at Hemudu and Tianluoshan.

The Hemudu people likely domesticated pigs but practiced extensive hunting of deer and some wild water buffalo. Fishing was also carried out on a large scale, with a particular focus on crucian carp.

The practices of fishing and hunting are evidenced by the remains of bone harpoons and bows and arrowheads. Music instruments, such as bone whistles and wooden drums, were also found at Hemudu. Artifact design by Hemudu inhabitants bears many resemblances to those of Insular Southeast Asia.

The culture produced a thick, porous pottery. The distinct pottery was typically black and made with charcoal powder. Plant and geometric designs were commonly painted onto the pottery; the pottery was sometimes also cord-marked. The culture also produced carved jade ornaments, carved ivory artifacts and small, clay figurines.

In the early Hemudu period is the maternal clan phase. Descent is said to be matrilineal and the social status of children and women is comparatively high. In the later periods, they gradually transitioned into patrilineal clans. During this period, the social status of men rose and descent is passed through the male line.

Hemudu’s inhabitants worshiped a sun spirit as well as a fertility spirit. They also enacted shamanistic rituals to the sun and believed in bird totems. A belief in an afterlife and ghosts is believed to have taken place as well. People were buried with theirs heads facing east or northeast and most had no burial objects. Infants were buried in urn-casket style burials, while children and adults received earth level burials.

They did not have a definite communal burial ground, for the most part, but a clan communal burial ground has been found in the later period. Two groups in separate parts of this burial ground are thought to be two intermarrying clans. There were noticeably more burial goods in this communal burial ground.

Fossilized amoeboids and pollen suggests Hemudu culture emerged and developed in the middle of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. A study of a sea-level highstand in the Ningshao Plain from 7000 to 5000 BP shows that there may have been stabilized lower sea levels at this time, followed by frequent flooding from 5000 to 3900 BP. The climate was said to be tropical to subtropical with high temperatures and much precipitation throughout the year.

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