1-20 of 31 results  for:

  • East Asian Art x
  • 10000–1000 BCE x
Clear all

Article

Anyang  

Robert W. Bagley

[An-yang]

Chinese city in Henan Province, near the site of the last capital of the Shang dynasty or Yin dynasty, occupied c.1300– c. 1050 bc. The site is sometimes called Yinxu, ‘Waste of Yin’, an ancient name for the abandoned city.

At least as early as the Northern Song period (960–1127) Anyang was known to antiquarians as a source of ancient bronze ritual vessels. At the beginning of the 20th century archaeologists were led there by the realization that animal bones and turtle shells found by local farmers were carved with inscriptions in a form of Chinese script more archaic than any previously known (for a discussion of the oracle-bone texts see China, People’s Republic of, §IV, 2, (i)). The bones had been used in divination rituals; their inscriptions, which showed the divinations to have been performed on behalf of the last nine Shang kings, secured the identification of the Anyang site. According to historical texts of the last few centuries ...

Article

Banpo  

Mary S. Lawton

[Pan-p’o]

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 (...

Article

Banshan  

Julia M. White

[Pan-shan]

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....

Article

Baoji  

Li Liu

[Pao-chi]

Chinese city in Shaanxi Province, where several important sites from the Neolithic to Eastern Zhou periods (c. 6500–256 bc) have been discovered. A Neolithic village site was excavated in 1958–60 and 1977–8 at Beishouling. The cultural deposits found belong to the Laoguantai culture and the Yangshao culture, dated by radiocarbon analysis to c. 5000–c. 2500 bc. The ceramics are reddish in colour, and some vessels are painted. Major pottery types include the pointed-bottom vase, flat-bottom jar, round-bottom bowl and suantou hu (garlic-head) vessel (for illustration of shapes see China, fig.). The most elaborate ones are a boat-shaped vessel with a net design and a garlic-shaped vessel with a design of a bird pecking at a fish.

At Rujiazhuang, Zhuyuangou and Zhifangtou, three cemeteries of the Western Zhou period (c. 1050–771 bc) were excavated in 1974–81. They belonged to the state of Yu, a Western Zhou feudal state not recorded in ancient texts. The excavations uncovered 27 tombs, two sacrificial pits containing chariots and horses, and four pits containing only horses. More than 2600 grave goods, including bronze, jade, stone, bone, shell and ceramic objects, were unearthed. The findings provide evidence of a culture combining a unique local style with influences from the Western Zhou, the Siwa culture in Gansu Province and the Shu culture in Sichuan Province. Many stone and jade ornaments and bronze vessels are decorated with animal motifs, and bronze figurines depict details of dress and hairstyles suggesting that the Yu people were culturally closely related to the Di and Qiang peoples in north-western and south-western areas....

Article

J. Edward Kidder jr

Japanese site in Shinbohon-machi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. It flourished during the Jōmon period (c. 10,000–c. 300 bc). It is a wooden circle site and served as the centre of a vast residential area, apparently rebuilt for thousands of years and finally abandoned in the Latest or Final Jōmon period (c. 1000–c. 300 bc).

The Chikamori site lies on a plain near the Tedori River, 7 m above sea-level and 4.5 km south-west of the Kanazawa railway station. Other Middle (c. 3500–c. 2500 bc) to Late (c. 2500–c. 1000 bc) Jōmon sites are near by. The site was identified in 1909, partially dug in 1954 and surveyed fully in 1974. About 7000 sq. m were excavated by the archaeologist Hisakazu Minami in 1980. At the centre there was originally a circle of standing pillars (now restored to a height of 2 m), a row of paired pillars, and another, smaller, circle. The main circle remained consistently 6–7 m in diameter, ringed with about ten posts of old logs, each ...

Article

Christopher Fung

[Ta-wen-k’ou]

Chinese Neolithic site in Taian, Shandong Province. It gives its name to a Neolithic culture that stretched across Shandong, western Henan, northern Anhui and Jiangsu provinces c. 4300–c. 2400 bc. In the core area, Shandong, the Dawenkou culture developed from the Beixin culture and was succeeded by the Longshan culture.

The beginnings of many of the characteristic features of Longshan pottery may be seen in the ceramics of the Dawenkou culture: the use of the potter’s wheel, elaborate ritual vessels and polished blackwares and whitewares. There is evidence in the pottery produced from c. 3500 bc that on some vessels the rim was retouched on a slow potter’s wheel. Smaller vessels that seem to have been turned on a fast wheel also appeared at the same time. The amount of wheelmade pottery increased towards the end of the period. Although most Dawenkou pottery was undecorated, styles of surface treatment changed significantly on those vessels that were decorated. Early Dawenkou (...

Article

Daxi  

Christopher Fung

[Ta-his]

Chinese Neolithic culture of the middle Yangzi River basin, dating from c. 4400 bc to c. 3300 bc; it is named after the type-site at Daxi Wushan, Sichuan Province. Other important sites exhibiting this culture include Guanmiaoshan Zhijiang, in Hubei Province, Honghuatao, Yidu, in Hubei Province and Sanyuangong, Li xian, in Hunan Province.

The Daxi culture is characterized primarily from burials, although square, clay-plastered house floors have been discovered at a handful of sites. Burials were generally single. Many graves contained few or no grave goods, a smaller number contained as many as 30; several were accompanied by dog sacrifices. The most distinctive artefacts are the ceramics, which are predominantly hand-built red wares. Small numbers of red-ware vessels have grey or black interiors, and some grey and black wares have also been found. Daxi ceramics are generally plain, although some have a red slip. The most common surface treatments are painting, stamping, incising, cord impressions, appliqué and openwork. Painted designs were executed primarily in black on red. Decorative elements include chevrons, intertwined curvilinear designs, flower-petal designs and curvilinear triangular designs. The most important vessel forms are upright vessels such as deep-bowled ...

Article

Erlitou  

Susanne Juhl

[Erh-li-t’ou.]

Early Bronze Age Chinese culture (first half of the 2nd millennium bc) distributed throughout Henan Province and surrounding areas, named after the village of Erlitou, situated in Yanshi County, Henan Province, near the modern city of Luoyang, where the largest site pertaining to the culture was found. The distribution and dating of the Erlitou culture largely corresponds to information in historical texts about the Xia dynasty, said to be the first dynasty in China, and some scholars identify the Erlitou culture at least partially with the Xia.

Excavation began at Erlitou in the 1960s, revealing a cultural layer 3–4 m thick divided into four chronological periods, each lasting c. 100 years, beginning c. 1900 bc and terminating c. 1500 bc. The site covers 3 sq. km. In the centre are the remains of two palatial structures (gongdian), and in the south a bronze manufacturing area. Specialized workshops for ceramics and bone implements, pottery kilns, small house foundations, storage pits, wells and human burials have also been excavated....

Article

Fu Hao  

Anthony Barbieri-Low

(d c. 1200 bc).

Chinese consort to Wu Ding, the fourth Shang king to rule from the last capital of the dynasty, at a site near modern Anyang in Henan Province. The oracle bone inscriptions found at Anyang reveal a glimpse of Fu Hao’s life and career, but her tomb, discovered in 1976, reveals much more about the power of the Shang and the skill of its artisans. The tomb of Fu Hao is the only royal Shang tomb found intact and the only Shang tomb which can be ascribed to a specific individual name in the oracle bone records. Her tomb surrendered more than 1600 kg of bronze objects and the largest number of jades ever to come from a single tomb.The small but unplundered tomb of Fu Hao provides a helpful indication of what once lay in the much greater, yet thoroughly looted, ‘royal’ tombs at Anyang.

In life, Fu Hao seems to have played many roles in the Shang royal enterprise. Besides bearing at least three children for the king and leading some state rituals, she was apparently a military leader who marshalled thousands of troops and led them on far-flung expeditions. The oracle bone inscriptions also provide information about Fu Hao’s illnesses, toothaches and even her dreams....

Article

Hemudu  

Robert E. Murowchick

[Ho-mu-tu]

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 ...

Article

Bent L. Pedersen

Chinese Neolithic culture covering the area of Liaoning Province, the western part of Inner Mongolia and northeast Hebei Province with the main distribution in western Liaoning between 4000 and 3000 bc. The culture was named after the site of the first find in 1908 at Hongshanhou near Chifeng on the Laoha River.

Hongshan culture has many features of a complex society based on villages in a wide distribution. There seems to have been contact with Yangshao sites from the Central Plain (Zhongyuan). The culture had dwelling sites along rivers in the grassland, ceremonial sites and elaborate burials in the hilly land in the forest. The main occupation was farming and animal husbandry including pigs and sheep, but hunting and fishing also contributed to the household economy

Dwellings were often placed on high terraces on the southern or eastern slopes of rivers. Houses had semisubterranean floors in rectangular shapes with hearth and storage pits. Some houses were rather long, up to 11.7 m, and had several complete sets of agricultural implements and living utensils, which suggests that these large dwellings were occupied by more than one family. Ceremonial sites consisting of several altars, round or square in shape have been found. Close to one altar a complete human skeleton was found, which might indicate a human sacrifice. Parts of human and animal figures made of clay were also found – all in realistic shapes. Judging from the fragments, some of the human figures were life-size and others twice as large. All the human figures seem to have been female and few of them show features that suggest pregnancy. One 23 cm high clay head, in which blue-green jade pieces had been used to indicate irises, has been excavated. These female figurines may suggest a Chinese matriarchal society but the evidence is uncertain....

Article

Bonnie Abiko

Period in Japanese archaeological and cultural chronology (see Japan §I 2.). The term Jōmon means ‘cord-mark design’ and was first applied by Morse, Edward Sylvester in 1879 to a period in Japanese prehistory during which pottery with this distinctive type of surface patterning was produced. The Jōmon period extends over ten millennia from c. 10,000 to c. 300 bc and on the basis of ceramic typology (see Japan §IX 2., (i), (a)) has been divided into six phases: Incipient (c. 10,000–c. 7500 bc), Initial or Earliest (c. 7500–c. 5500 bc), Early (c. 5500–c. 3500 bc), Middle (c. 3500–c. 2500 bc), Late (c. 2500–c. 1000 bc) and Final or Latest (c. 1000–c. 300 bc). The characteristic cord-marked vessels noted by Morse date from Early Jōmon.

Japan’s long and distinctive ceramic tradition has its origins in the Jōmon period, and pottery from the Incipient phase, for example from ...

Article

Robert E. Murowchick

[Liang-chu]

Chinese late Neolithic culture of the area of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu Province and northern Zhejiang Province. The type site is near Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. The Liangzhu culture was discovered in the 1930s. Excavations of major Liangzhu habitation and burial sites have produced a series of radiocarbon dates of between 3300 bc and 2200 bc; they show that the culture developed out of the Majiabang (c. 5500–c. 3000 bc) and Songze (c. 3900–c. 3300 bc) cultures, which occupied a similar geographical area.

Favourable soil conditions at Liangzhu sites have preserved organic remains, including plaited bamboo mats and baskets, wooden boats and oars, houses built of wattle and daub over timber, and a variety of wooden tools and utensils. Pottery from Liangzhu graves is characteristically of fine paste and grey or black. The finer vessels, probably ceremonial in function, were wheelmade and highly burnished; some examples have elaborate incised designs. Vessel shapes, many of which are also found in the classic Longshan culture of Shandong Province and other late Neolithic, Longshan-type, east-coast cultures, include a variety of ...

Article

Bent L. Pedersen

[Lung-Shan]

Chinese Neolithic culture (c. 2500–c. 2000 bc), named after the type site at Longshan, Chengziyai, Zhangqiu County, in Shandong Province. The site was excavated in 1930–31 by Johan Gunnar Andersson (1874–1960). Remains of the Longshan culture have been identified in two distinct areas: in the provinces of Shandong and Jiangsu and, further west, in the provinces of Hebei, Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi. The classic Longshan culture originated in central Shandong Province and was a development of the Dawenkou culture, whereas the western Longshan had its sources in the Yangshao culture (see also China, People’s Republic of §VIII 3., (i), (c)).

The best known pottery of the Longshan culture is a hard, black, egg-shell thin pottery, although grey pottery was also common, especially in the west, and a few pieces with a brown, red or white body have been found. Sophisticated kilns with firing chambers on top of the furnaces have been found at Longshan sites. Most of the pottery was wheelmade, but this technique was less prominent in the western areas. The black pottery has burnished surfaces often decorated with incised lines and hollows. The grey type is usually plain, but incised decoration, impressed cord and basket patterns and appliqué, mainly rings and twisted bands, are common. A few black pieces have incised cloud and thunder patterns (...

Article

Machang  

Bent L. Pedersen

[Ma-ch’ang]

Neolithic site east of Ledu in eastern Qinghai Province, China. Excavated in 1921–3 by the Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it is the type site of the Machang phase (c. 2000–c. 1800 bc) of the Gangsu Yangshao culture. The best-preserved remains of Machang houses are found in Majiawan in Yongjing, Gansu Province; they have round or square semi-subterranean floors, wattle-and-daub walls and probably thatched roofs. The tombs are mostly single, although multiple tombs have also been discovered; wooden coffins were often used. The pottery vessels that served as grave goods varied in number from a few to several dozen and sometimes contained grains of millet. The pottery was made of either red clay or sand-tempered red and grey clay, the most usual forms being jars, juglike vessels and bowls. The red clay vessels are either plain or painted in red, black and maroon slip. The painted designs extend two-thirds of the way down the vessel, and the black lines characteristic of Gansu Yangshao pottery are often enhanced with red lines. Common motifs include four large circles, anthropomorphic patterns, ringlets, spirals and woven and checked patterns. Much of the pottery bears painted symbols, of which 139 different signs have been identified. Small clay masks have also been found. Some large jars have been found with tops in the shape of human heads: on one there is a human figure with both female and male sexual organs and breasts (Beijing, Pal. Mus.). These human figures were probably associated with shamanistic rituals....

Article

Bent L. Pedersen

[Ma-chia-yao]

Neolithic site in Lintao County, Gansu Province, China. Excavated in 1921–3 by the Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it is the type site of the Majiayao phase (later part of the 4th millennium bc) of the Gansu or Western Yangshao culture (see also China, People’s Republic of §VIII 3., (i), (b)).

Despite the discovery in 1975 of a knife made of bronze (an alloy of copper and 6–10% tin) dating from c. 3000 bc and some slag fragments (including copper, tin, lead and iron) that indicate bronze metallurgy at the Linjia site in Dongxiang County, Gansu Province, the Majiayao culture was definitely Neolithic. Agricultural tools such as hoes, axes, sickles, grinders and pestles are made of stone, and tools for hunting, fishing and domestic work, such as needles, awls, chisels, arrowheads and fish-hooks, are made of bone. There were also bone ornaments and pottery toys such as rattles. The limited bronze production was of little significance in the economy....

Article

Bent L. Pedersen

[Miao-ti-kou]

Phase of the Chinese Neolithic Yangshao culture named after Miaodigou village, Shan xian, Henan Province, where the first find was made. Two distinct cultures within the Miaodigou phase have been identified, the first dating from c. 4000–c. 3300 bc and the second dating from c. 3300–c. 2600 bc. The cultures extended from Henan Province in the east to Gansu Province in the west.

Miaodigou village settlements were surrounded by ditches and fences and were subdivided into distinct areas for living, production and burial. Their houses, some semi-subterranean, had a round, square or rectangular plan; the walls were of the wattle-and-daub type, and the thatched roofs were supported by wooden pillars and beams. Burials were in single or multiple graves furnished mostly with pottery vessels but sometimes including bone ornaments and stone implements. Most of the pottery is made of a refined red clay, sometimes covered with white or red slip. Typical forms include pointed and flat jars with double lips and small mouths, and bowls with rolled lips or constricted mouths. In Phase I many vessels were painted, mainly with black alone, though occasionally the black was combined with red and a white slip. Decorative motifs are generally geometric, but bird, frog and plant designs were also used. One barrel-shaped jar (Lanzhou, Gansu Prov. Mus.) is topped with a human head; the body of the vessel is painted in black with geometric patterns. On another jar (Lanzhou, Gansu Prov. Mus.) a humorously painted lizard decorates one side. The pottery from Phase II is usually coarse and grey, and there are fewer painted examples than in Phase I. There was a greater use of impressed patterns, such as basket, cord and check marks, and incised or appliqué designs also occur. A few examples of the thin, hard, lustrous pottery typical of the Longshan culture have also been found at Miaodigou sites. In the kilns of the Miaodigou II culture the firing chamber was placed directly on top of the furnace instead of beside it, as in earlier Neolithic kilns such as those at Banpo (...

Article

Bent Nielsen

[Ning-hsiang]

County in Hunan Province, China, west of the city of Changsha. Several remarkable bronze vessels and bells of the late Shang Anyang phase (c. 1300–c. 1050 bc; see China, People’s Republic of, §VII, 3, (ii)) were at various times discovered in the ground or in watercourses in the vicinity of the town of Huangcai in Ningxiang County. Although the site is of the Anyang phase chronologically, the bronzes found there differ stylistically from Anyang bronzes.

In 1938 a bronze vessel of the fang zun (square wine vessel) type weighing 34.5 kg was found. The vessel is cast entirely within the tradition of the Anyang phase except for a ram protruding from each corner. The heads, necks, chests and forelegs of the rams are modelled with considerable attention to detail and realism, although they incorporate conventional surface decoration. On the shoulder of the vessel, that is on the rams’ backs, horned dragons lie curled, while stylized birds adorn part of the rams’ bodies. (A similar Anyang-phase bronze ...

Article

J. Edward Kidder jr

Japanese shell-midden in Ōmori, Ota and Shinagawa Wards, Tokyo, dating from the Late Jōmon period (c. 2500–c. 1000 bc). It was excavated by the American conchologist Edward Sylvester Morse (see also Japan §XXI), who is credited with introducing the principles of modern archaeology to Japan. Morse noticed a cut along the railway tracks while travelling between Yokohama and Kyoto and recognized the presence of prehistoric deposits. Excavation was carried out in 1877–8. While a small shell layer still exists in Shinagawa Ward, so much development has taken place in Ōmori that it is no longer possible to know the exact site where Morse worked, but two monuments were erected, in 1929 and 1930, to mark the excavations. The remains from the shell-midden are housed in a museum at Tokyo University, built at Morse’s encouragement.

Morse estimated the shell layer along the embankment to be c....

Article

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....