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Mary S. Lawton


Site of a Neolithic village 10 km east of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, from which is derived the name of the early phase (c. 4800–c. 4300 bc) of the Neolithic Central Yangshao culture. Archaeological excavations began in 1953; within an area of 5 hectares, 45 residences and more than 200 tombs were revealed. Subsequent carbon-14 tests dated the site to soon after 5000 bc. The excavations indicate that the settlement was divided into three separate areas, for residence, pottery production and burial. The residential section was surrounded by a manmade moat. Earlier houses were constructed partially underground, but later structures were built at ground-level. Floor-plans varied and could be circular or rectangular (e.g. see China, People’s Republic of, §II, 5, (ii)), but the main building material was mud mixed with straw. The traditional Chinese orientation of the entrance towards the south and the use of wooden roof support frames can be seen already in the architecture of Banpo (...



Julia M. White


Site in the Tao River valley near Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China. First excavated in 1924 by the Swedish archaeologist johan gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it gives its name to a phase (c. 2800–c. 2300 bc) of the Neolithic-period Western or Gansu Yangshao culture.

Four sites make up Banshan: Waguanzui, Banshan proper, Bianjiagou and Wangjiagou. Excavations in the region have shown that the Banshan cultural phase includes a range of sites extending north from Lanzhou to Wuwei and Yongchang in Gansu Province and as far west as the Guide Basin in Qinghai Province. Banshan was the source of a large number of painted ceramic vessels, many now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm. Since the major archaeological excavations of the 1970s and 1980s, museums and research institutes in China, particularly the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou and the Qinghai Provincial Museum in Xining, have acquired large collections of Banshan pottery. Initial finds of Banshan ceramics were exclusively funerary wares, leading experts to believe that the painted designs, especially the black, swirling ‘death pattern’, were associated with ritual burial practice. Later, vessels with an identical serrated pattern were found in habitation sites as well, and the designs are no longer interpreted only in connection with death....



Robert E. Murowchick


Site of a Neolithic village in Yuyao County, Zhejiang Province, China. It was excavated in 1973–4 and 1977–8. Of the four cultural layers identified, the upper two layers (1 and 2), radiocarbon dated to c. 3700 bc, correspond to the neighbouring Songze culture. The lower two layers (3 and 4), radiocarbon dated to the late 6th millennium bc and early 5th, are particularly rich in cultural material and best represent the early phase of the Neolithic Hemudu culture (c. 5200–c.3300 bc) located south of Hangzhou Bay. Vast quantities of discarded faunal and floral remains include the earliest known evidence of rice cultivation in China, dating from c. 5000 bc. The extensive and well-preserved remains of wooden pile dwellings show carefully constructed mortice-and-tenon joinery. Numerous bone utensils were found, particularly hoes carved and polished from mammal scapulae, paddles, spindle whorls, handles and weaving shuttles; some of these were engraved with horizontal and diagonal lines and figures of birds. A red ...


J. Edward Kidder jr

Site on a terrace along the River Ōyu near the Ōyu hot spring, Rokkaku City, Akita Prefecture, Japan. The largest of the stone circle sites in northern Japan, the Ōyu site has been known since 1931, was investigated in 1941 and excavated in 1951–2 under the auspices of the Cultural Properties Protection Committee. Associated pottery, which includes strange and unusual shapes not seen elsewhere, dates the circles to c. 1500 bc (Late Jōmon period). Recent excavations have uncovered living areas not far away.

Two concentric sets of circles named the Manza and Nonakadō groups lie on an approximately north-west–south-east line 80 m apart. The Manza group has outer and inner rings c. 50 m and 15 m in diameter, respectively; the Nonakadō group c. 45 m and 10 m. In the Manza circles excavators identified 47 groups of stones arranged rectangularly, as though comprising outlines for graves. Nine were dug, and soil-tested for human remains, but the results were inconclusive, as was the case also for the Nonakadō group, in which 33 were identified and 5 dug. To the north-west of the inner circle of each group is a set of stones arranged to resemble a sundial, with central, upright radials and surrounding ring. In the Manza group this cluster is set at 296°, in the Nonakadō group at 302°. These are thought to have had some calendrical significance as their placement is unlikely to be accidental. They may also be grave markers....


Robert W. Bagley


Site in Huangpi County, Hubei Province, China, north of the modern city of Wuhan. The remains of a small city occupied during the Erligang period (c. 1500– c. 1300 bc), shortly after the middle of the second millennium bc, were excavated at the site in 1974, although Shang pottery and bronzes had been found sporadically in the area since at least the mid-1950s.

The only conspicuous landmark at the site is a rammed-earth (hangtu) city wall, which survives to a height of 3 m in a few places. The wall and a group of palatial buildings, the foundations of which were uncovered within, proved to have been constructed during the Erligang period. Nothing remained of the buildings but rectangular rammed-earth foundation platforms with impressions left by wooden pillars. The wall, 26 m thick at the base, is about 1 km long. Outside the wall traces of settlement were found over an area of about 1 sq. km, along with many graves....