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....