Neolithic Age of China
General Introduction to Neolithic China
The Neolithic age in China can be traced back to between 12,000 and 10,000 BCE Early evidence for proto-Chinese millet agriculture is carbon-dated to about 7,000 BCE.
The Peiligang culture of Xinzheng county, Henan was excavated in 1977. With agriculture came increased population, the ability to store and redistribute crops, and to support specialist craftsmen and administrators.
In late Neolithic times, the Yellow River valley began to establish itself as a cultural center, where the first villages were founded; the most archaeologically significant of those was found at Banpo, Xi'an. The Yellow River was so named because of the loess that would build up on the bank and down in the earth then sink, creating a yellowish tint to the water.
The early history of China is complicated by the lack of a written language during this period coupled with the existence of documents from later time periods attempting to describe events that occurred several centuries before. The problem in some sense stems from centuries of introspection on the part of the Chinese people which has blurred the distinction between fact and fiction in regards to this early history.
By 7000 BCE, the Chinese were farming millet, giving rise to the Jiahu culture. At Damaidi in Ningxia, 3,172 cliff carvings dating to 6,000-5,000 BCE have been discovered "featuring 8,453 individual characters such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing." These pictographs are reputed to be similar to the earliest characters confirmed to be written Chinese. Later Yangshao culture was superseded by the Longshan culture around 2500 BCE.