Neolithic Era — Primitive Society and Mythical History

This is the epoch starting from the existence of human beings to the establishment of the first dynasty Xia around the year 2070 BC by Yu the Great, who led people to defeat the Great Flood.

 

Many primitive cultures scattered in different places in China. Gradually, they became stronger, then there came many merger wars. 

Red-crowned Crane Bone Made Flute, Peiligang Culture (About 7000 — 8000 Years Ago)

Red-crowned Crane Bone Made Flute, Peiligang Culture (About 7000 — 8000 Years Ago) — Henan Antique Archaeology Institute (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Some Important Cultures in the Neolithic of China

Dawenkou Culture

Dawenkou was an era with the rise of Private Ownership and Patriarchy, and the gradual collapse of the Matrilineal system.

  • Around 4500 BC — 2500 BC

  • Shandong Province, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Cultivation of Millet and Keep of Livestocks;

  • Advanced Pottery of Different Colors;

  • Widely Use of Stone, Wood, Ivory, Jade, and Bone Tools.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Dawenkou Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Longshan Culture or Black Pottery Culture

Developed from the Dawenkou Culture, the Longshan Culture Entered the Bronze Age.

  • Around 2500 BC — 2000 BC

  • Shandong, Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi Provinces, etc; the Middle Kingdom Era of China.

Achievements:

  • Thin Fetal Black Pottery and Jade Articles showed advanced technology of Longshan Culture.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Longshan Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Hongshan Culture

Hongshan was an agricultural, Matrilineal culture, with grand worship sites, altar, temple, and hierarchy.

  • Around 4000 BC — 3000 BC

  • Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Hebei Provinces, North and Northeast of China.

Characteristics:

  • Delicate jade articles had clear ceremonial uses and were widely used in tombs. 

Unearthed Artifacts of the Hongshan Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Yangshao Culture

Yangshao was an ancient Matrilineal society that was made of village-scale clans. 

In later centuries of Yangshao Culture, the Matrilineal system declined, while hierarchy,  slaves, Private Ownership, and Patriarchal Commune appeared. 

  • Around 5000 BC — 3000 BC

  • Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Hubei Provinces, the Middle Kingdom Area of China.

Achievements:

  • Yangshao was a further developed agricultural culture that contained the cultivation of millet, rice, vegetables, livestock, with hunting and fishing activities as supplements.

  • Painted Potteries were quite exquisite during this era. 

Unearthed Artifacts of the Yangshao Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying) 

Majiayao Culture

Developed from the Westward of Yangshao Culture, the Majiayao Culture official entered the Bronze Age.

  • Around 3300 BC — 2100 BC

  • Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Ningxia Provinces, Northwest of China.

Achievements:

  • Highly Developed Painted Pottery.

  • The earliest unearthed bronze knife in China was from the Majiayao Culture.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Majiayao Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Qijia Culture

Developed From the Westward of Yangshao Culture, the Qijia Culture was a Patriarchal Clan Society that had entered the Bronze Age and appeared hierarchy, Polygamy, and Human Sacrifice.

  • Around 2200 BC — 1600 BC

  • Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia Provinces, Northwest of China.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Qijia Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Shijiahe Culture

Shijiahe was a Bronze Age civilization with grand worship ceremonies, city ruins, and exquisite jade articles.

  • Around 2800 BC — 2000 BC

  • Hubei, Hunan, Henan Provinces, Middle-South of China.

Unearthed Jade Artifacts of the Shijiahe Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Hemudu Culture 

Hemudu was an ancient Matrilineal society that consisted of clans.

  • Around 5000 BC — 3300 BC

  • Zhejiang Province, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Advanced Black Pottery Production;

  • Wide Use of Stone, Bamboo, Wood and Bone Tools;

  • Earliest Cultivation of Rice;

  • Stilt Style Houses;

  • Utilization of Fabric.

Unearthed Artifacts of the Hemudu Culture (Photo by Dongmaiying)

Liangzhu Culture

Liangzhu was a well-developed culture that contained a ruling class, fancy palace, about 3 million square meters large capital city, mature agricultural production, and over 5000 years old water conservancy system.

  • Around 3300 BC — 2000 BC

  • Zhejiang, Jiangsu Provinces, East of China.

Achievements:

  • Exquisite ritual jade articles, which were believed as magical objects that can connect with deities, were used in worship ceremonies and the burial of nobles.

 

They were the representative of monotheism religion, public power, and strict hierarchy of the Liangzhu Culture. 

  • Unearthed delicate black pottery, fabric, ivory, and lacquer wares, moreover, are concrete evidence of the mature social division of labor.