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Jiahu () was the site of a
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is t ...
settlement based in the central plain of ancient China, near the
Yellow River The Yellow River (Chinese: , Jin: uə xɔ Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is ...
. It is located between the
floodplain File:Flood plain 7991.JPG, Riparian vegetation on the floodplain of the Lynches River, close to Johnsonville, South Carolina. These tupelo and Taxodium, cypress trees show the ordinary high water mark, high-water mark of flooding. A floodpl ...
s of the Ni River to the north, and the Sha River to the south, north of the modern city of Wuyang,
Henan Province Henan (; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China, in the central part of the country. Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (), which literally means "central plain" or "midland", although the name is also ap ...
.http://www.shakuhachi.com/K-9KChineseFlutes-Nature.html Most
archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...

archaeologist
s consider the site to be one of the earliest examples of the
Peiligang culture The Peiligang culture was a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,00 ...
. Settled around 7000 BC, the site was later flooded and abandoned around 5700 BC. The settlement was surrounded by a moat and covered a relatively large area of 55,000 square meters (5.5 hectare). At one time, it was "a complex, highly organized Chinese Neolithic society", home to at least 250 people and perhaps as many as 800. The important discoveries of the Jiahu archaeological site include the
Jiahu symbols 100px, Example of Jiahu symbols. The Jiahu symbols () consist of 16 distinct markings on prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the desc ...
, possibly an early example of
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used ...
, carved into tortoise shells and bones; the thirty-three
Jiahu flutes The Jiahu gǔdí () is the oldest known musical instrument from China, dating back to around 7000 BC. ''Gudi'' literally means "bone flute". History These bone flutes were excavated in 1986 from an early Neolithic tomb in Jiahu, Wuyan County, ...
carved from the wing bones of cranes, believed to be among the oldest playable musical instruments in the world; and evidence of wine fermented from rice, honey and hawthorn leaves. A broad variety of other artifacts indicates a fairly advanced settlement for the early Neolithic period, including residences, burial sites, pottery kilns, an assortment of implements made of stone and earthenware, and a large central structure believed to be a communal workspace. To date, 45 residences have been excavated at Jiahu. Most of these are small, between four and ten meters. Most of these were semi-subterranean (partially dug into the earth) and with a single room; however, some of these had additional rooms built on later. Rubbish pits and storage cellars were also excavated, and nine pottery kilns were identified.


Discovery and excavation of the site

Discovered by Zhu Zhi in 1962, extensive excavation of the site did not occur until the 1980s. Most of the site still has not been excavated, although work is slowly progressing. The excavation of Jiahu burial sites and rubbish pits has been productive, yielding abundant evidence about the lives of the Jiahu people. Chinese researchers from the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, led for many years by Zhang Juzhong, a professor from the
University of Science and Technology of China The University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) is a public university, public research university in Hefei, Anhui, China, under the direct leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). It is a member of the elite C9 League, Ch ...
, have carried out archaeological research around the site for decades. Zhang's team conducted excavation of portions of the site in seven stages; each stage took two to three years. A large portion of the Jiahu site was excavated in the first two phases of the project, between 1983 and 1987. Zhang and his assistants published the findings of the first two phases in detail in the journal ''
Antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages ...
''.


Jiahu and Peiligang

Some archaeologists point to cultural distinctions between Jiahu and Peiligang, as well as the distance: Jiahu is isolated, many kilometers south of the larger Peiligang grouping of over 100 archaeological sites in a fairly compact area. The distance would have represented a journey on foot of several days in the Neolithic era. This school of thought suggests that Jiahu and Peiligang represented separate, neighboring cultures that interacted and shared many characteristics. Other early Neolithic settlements in this part of the world were much farther south and east. Archaeologists have divided Jiahu into three distinct phases. The oldest phase ranges from 7000 to 6600 BC; the middle phase ranges from 6600 to 6200 BC; and the last phase ranges from 6200 to 5700 BC. The last two phases correspond to the
Peiligang culture The Peiligang culture was a Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,00 ...
, while the earliest phase is unique to Jiahu. Careful examination of the skeletons of over 400 individuals, removed from more than 300 graves, by several scientific teams over the course of the past 30 years illustrates that the Jiahu ethnic group was a part of the Northern Mongoloid group, and identified closely with the Miaodigou and Xiawanggang sub-groups which were also descendants of hunting and gathering tribes in Henan Province, and the
Dawenkou The Dawenkou culture was a Chinese Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age The Stone Age was a broad prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history H ...
, Xixiahou and Yedian sub-groups that were later found in Shandong Province.


Agriculture, hunting, fishing and foraging

The inhabitants of Jiahu cultivated
foxtail millet Foxtail millet, scientific name ''Setaria italica'' (synonym ''Panicum italicum L.''), is an annual grass grown for human food. It is the second-most widely planted species of millet, and the most grown millet species in Asia. The oldest evidence ...
and
rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

rice
. While millet cultivation is common in the Peiligang culture, rice cultivation at Jiahu is unique, and tends to support the theory that Jiahu was a separate culture from the Peiligang grouping. On the other hand, difference in local climate, moisture and soil conditions may have made cultivating rice in the Peiligang area more difficult. Jiahu rice cultivation is one of the earliest found, and the most northerly found at such an early stage in history. The rice was a kind of short-grained ''japonica'' rice. Scholars had previously thought the earliest domesticated rice belonged to the long-grain ''indica'' subspecies. There is abundant proof of millet farming in cool, dry high latitudes of the Yellow River Valley, and rice farming dominated in warm, moist low latitudes of the Yangtze River Valley. The early Neolithic site of Jiahu lies near the boundary between the cool, dry north and the warm, moist south. In another sign of advancement, Jiahu's farmers had moved on from the usual
slash-and-burn Slash-and-burn agriculture is a farming method that involves the cutting and burning of plants in a forest or woodland to create a Field (agriculture), field called a swidden. The method begins by cutting down the trees and woody plants in an ...
techniques of Neolithic farmers, and were using intensive cultivation in permanent fields. Jiahu is also the site of the earliest find of wild soybean seeds in China; a large quantity of soybean remains were discovered at Jiahu. Food was plentiful, from farming as well as hunting and foraging, and contributed to considerable population growth for such an early settlement. Women of the Jiahu culture gathered wild
pear Pears are fruits produced and consumed around the world, growing on a tree and harvested in the Northern Hemisphere in late summer into October. The pear tree and shrub are a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological ...

pear
s and
apricot An apricot (, ) is a fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The ...

apricot
s, and foraged for acorns,
chestnut The chestnuts are the deciduous trees and shrubs in the genus ''Castanea'', in the beech family Fagaceae. They are native to temperate climate, temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name also refers to the edible nut (fruit), nut ...

chestnut
s, broad beans, edible roots and tubers in the surrounding countryside. There is evidence of domesticated pigs, dogs, poultry, and small numbers of cattle. The Jiahu people used manure from their pigs and cattle as fertilizer, substantially increasing the yield of their rice crops. The livestock produced meat, milk and eggs. There was also evidence of
deer Deer or true deer are hoof A hoof ( or ), plural hooves ( or ) or hoofs , is the tip of a toe Toes are the digits (fingers) of the foot of a tetrapod. Animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organis ...

deer
, wild
boar The wild boar (''Sus scrofa''), also known as the wild swine, common wild pig, Eurasian wild pig, or simply wild pig, is a suid native to much of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large ...

boar
and
rabbit Rabbits, also known as bunnies or bunny rabbits, are small mammal Mammals (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication ...

rabbit
hunting, and fishing for
carp Carp are various species of oily fish, oily freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. While carp is consumed in many parts of the world, they are generally considered an invasive species in ...

carp
and
herring Herring are forage fish Forage fish, also called prey fish or bait fish, are small pelagic fish which are preyed on by larger predators for food. Predators include other larger fish, seabirds and marine mammals. Typical ocean forage fish feed ...

herring
in the nearby rivers to the north and south, with nets made of
hemp Hemp, or industrial hemp, is a botanical class of ''Cannabis sativa ''Cannabis sativa'' is an annual indigenous to , but now of cosmopolitan distribution due to widespread cultivation. It has been cultivated throughout , used as a source ...
fibers. The
red-crowned crane The red-crowned crane (''Grus japonensis''), also called the Manchurian crane or Japanese crane (; the Chinese character '丹' means 'red', '頂/顶' means 'crown' and '鶴/鹤' means 'crane'), is a large East Asian Crane (bird), crane among the ...
, a large bird indigenous to the region, was hunted for meat; its bones and feathers were also used for other purposes. Due to this steadily improving and varied diet, the health and longevity of the Jiahu people gradually improved. This has been documented through comparison of the archaeological evidence. Over 400 burials have been unearthed at Jiahu, and many hundreds more are believed to await excavation. Skeletons have been measured and carefully examined, revealing the height, weight, gender, and approximate age of each of the deceased Jiahu at the time of death, as well as the general health, and in many cases the cause of death. The three phases of Jiahu history correspond to steadily increasing numbers of middle-aged and older people, suggesting an increase in survival and
life expectancy Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and other demographic Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancien ...

life expectancy
, and fewer remains of children and infants, suggesting a reduction in child and
infant mortality Infant mortality is the death of young children under the age of 1. This death toll is measured by the infant mortality rate (IMR), which is the probability of deaths of children under one year of age per 1000 live births. The under-five mortali ...

infant mortality
. By the third phase, the average height of an adult had increased by 0.8in (2 cm) and the bones and teeth were in significantly better condition.


Tools, fortifications and weapons

A stone
sickle A sickle, bagging hook, reaping-hook or grasshook is a single-handed agricultural tool designed with variously curved blades and typically used for harvesting, or reaping, grain crops or cutting Succulent plant, succulent forage chiefly for feedi ...

sickle
blade has been recovered. This was secured to a wooden handle to harvest grain. Evidence of baskets woven from wild grass has been uncovered. These were used to carry grain from the harvests. Remnants of a spinning loom have been found, indicating the production of
cloth A textile is a flexible material made by creating an interlocking bundle of yarn Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibre Fiber or fibre (from la, fibra, links=no) is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, ...

cloth
, probably from hemp fibers. Among the many tools and utensils unearthed at Jiahu are three-legged earthenware cooking pots with tight-fitting lids, and a variety of stone implements, including arrowheads, barbed harpoons, spades, axes, awls, and chisels. Stone spearheads have also been found, and evidence of what may have been a wooden
stockade A stockade is an enclosure of palisade A palisade, sometimes called a stakewall or a paling, is typically a fence or defensive wall made from iron or wooden stakes, or tree trunks, and used as a defensive structure or enclosure. Palisades can ...
fence along at least a portion of the interior shore of the moat. These improved weapons, and the moat surrounding the settlement, provided an ideal defense for such an early culture. The area is known to have been frequented by nomadic hunting and gathering tribes for several thousand years prior to the Jiahu settlement, and these may have been potential enemies, as well as the genetic forebears of Jiahu. The Jiahu people are not believed to have been warlike in nature, but capable of defending themselves if the need arose. Thorough examination of the site has revealed no evidence of any armed conflict. Unearthed human remains showing signs of violent death are very rare, and scattered along the known timeline—rather than occurring at the same time which would indicate a battle. It is possible that the large size of the settlement, its substantial defenses, and the improved weapons of the Jiahu people may have caused potential enemies of that time to keep their distance. Such a scenario is consistent with the substantial growth in population and longevity exhibited by the Jiahu site. Without war, and with plenty of nutritious food, the village flourished.


Evidence of cultural development

After thorough study of 238 skeletal remains,
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
forensic archaeologist Barbara Li Smith published findings that the Jiahu villagers enjoyed fairly good health. The average age of death by the third phase was around 40, representing a very good life expectancy for Neolithic people. Sponge lesions on the skulls indicate that anemia and iron deficiency were a problem. Hole bone lesions from disease and parasitic infections were rare, although fecal evidence indicated the occasional presence of
hookworm Hookworms are intestinal, blood-feeding, parasitic roundworms that cause types of infection known as helminthiases. Hookworm infection is found in many parts of the world, and is common in areas with poor access to adequate water, sanitation, ...
parasites, possibly from poorly cooked pork.


Ceremonial burial

The burials at Jiahu were usually accompanied by burial offerings, with increasing frequency as the second and third phases progressed. Burial objects range from
pottery Pottery is the process and the products of forming vessels and other objects with clay Clay is a type of fine-grained natural soil Surface-water- gley developed in glacial till, Northern Ireland.">Northern_Ireland.html" ;"title="g ...

pottery
to tortoise shells. Burial offerings varied between individuals, and are believed to be linked to the skills they displayed in life, providing evidence of an early specialization of labor. The types of labor specialization, from most common to most rare, included farmers, herdsmen, fishermen, hunters, potters, musicians, and a tribal priest. Most of the burials were earthen pits; infants were buried in earthenware jars. As is common with Neolithic communities, the burials were in cemeteries which were separate from the residential areas, although many gravesites overlapped, so they were probably not marked. A few burials were multiple, while most burial pits contained single individuals. These did not follow any discernible pattern, although it is possible that in some cases, couples (a man and a woman of roughly the same age) were buried together. In some graves the heads were severed from the body and pointed toward the northwest. Cut marks made when the bones were fresh indicates the heads were cut off shortly after the person died. A few burial offerings included
turquoise Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper Copper is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductility, duct ...

turquoise
carvings, and represented a significant level of material wealth, suggesting some differences in
social status Social status is the level of social value a person is considered to hold. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of respect, honour Honour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect of the English langu ...
. Burial offerings in women's graves were more sparse, indicating lower social status, and indicated that their roles were limited to childbearing and child care, cooking, and foraging for food.


Flutes

Some of the most significant burial offerings discovered were playable tonal
flutes The flute is a family of musical instrument A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make Music, musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the ...
made from
red-crowned crane The red-crowned crane (''Grus japonensis''), also called the Manchurian crane or Japanese crane (; the Chinese character '丹' means 'red', '頂/顶' means 'crown' and '鶴/鹤' means 'crane'), is a large East Asian Crane (bird), crane among the ...
wing bones. This crane is five feet tall with a wingspan of eight feet, yielding large bones for this purpose. The first of the flutes were found in the late 1980s, but were not described in the West until 1999.Juzhong, Z. and Kuem, L.K. ''Natural History'' magazine, September 2005.Yuan-Yuan, L. and Shen, S. ''Chinese Musical Instruments (Chinese Music Monograph Series)''. 1999. Chinese Music Society of North America Press. Thirty-three flutes—including around 20 intact flutes, several broken or fragmented ones, and several more unfinished ones—have been found at Jiahu. All are between seven and 10 inches in length. It seems plausible that ancient flutes were also made from bamboo. Ancient myths described bamboo flutes; but no ancient ones have been found, in all likelihood because bamboo decays more quickly than bone and doesn't survive burial for thousands of years like bone. The oldest phase at Jiahu only contains two flutes, which are tetratonic and
pentatonic A pentatonic scale is a musical scale Scale or scales may refer to: Mathematics * Scale (descriptive set theory)In the mathematical discipline of descriptive set theory, a scale is a certain kind of object defined on a set (mathematics), se ...
; the middle phase at Jiahu contains several flutes, including an interesting pair of
hexatonicIn music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social ...
flutes. One of the flutes was broken, and the other flute seems to be a replica of the first flute, as it shows evidence of adjustments made to match the pitch of the first. Innovations in the last phase include the use of
heptatonicA heptatonic scale is a musical scale Scale or scales may refer to: Mathematics * Scale (descriptive set theory)In the mathematical discipline of descriptive set theory, a scale is a certain kind of object defined on a set (mathematics), set of poi ...
flutes. The flutes were cut, smoothed at the ends, polished and finally drilled with a row of holes on one side. One of the broken flutes was repaired by drilling fourteen tiny holes along the breakage lines and then tying the sections together with hemp string.Juzhong, Z., Xiao, X., and Lee, Y.K., 2004, "The early development of music. Analysis of the Jiahu bone flutes." ''Antiquity'' 78(302): 769-779. The flutes play in the so-called pentatonic scale, in which octaves are divided into five notes—the basis of many kinds of music, including Chinese folk music. The fact that the flute has a scale indicates that its original players played music rather than just single notes. The flutes were probably used in some kind of ceremonial capacity, but may have been played for entertainment.


Pottery and fermented beverages

Jiahu yielded some of the oldest Chinese pottery yet found in Neolithic China. Patrick McGovern, of the
University of Pennsylvania Museum The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology—commonly known as the Penn Museum—is an archaeology Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. Ar ...
, led a team of scientists who applied
biomarker A biomarker, or biological marker is a measurable indicator Indicator may refer to: Biology * Indicator (genus), ''Indicator'' (genus), a genus of birds in the honeyguide family * Environmental indicator of environmental health (pressures, cond ...
chemical analysis to pottery jars from Jiahu. They found signature molecules proving
alcohol In chemistry, alcohol is an organic compound that carries at least one hydroxyl functional group (−OH) bound to a Saturated and unsaturated compounds, saturated carbon atom. The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alcohol ethan ...

alcohol
was fermented from rice, honey, grapes, and hawthorn. Researchers hypothesize that this hybrid beverage (a beer, wine, and mead combination) was fermented by the process of mold saccharification, a uniquely Chinese contribution to the art of beverage-making in which several mold species are used to break down the carbohydrates of rice and other grains into simple, fermentable sugars. Specific aromatic herbs and flowers such as
chrysanthemum Chrysanthemums (), sometimes called mums or chrysanths, are flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Gree ...

chrysanthemum
, in addition to tree resins such as China fir, had been added to the hybrid beverages, the researchers found. These aromatic additions, as well as the honey, indicate that fermented beverages with a pleasing aroma and sweet taste were important to the Jiahu people.McGovern, Patrick E., et. al., 2004 "Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic China." ''PNAS'' 101(51):17593-17598 Substantial quantities of rice and millet were stored in pottery jars, enabling the specialization of labor. Jiahu society is believed to have been fairly egalitarian, with several hundred residents of the village at the height of its development. Comparative DNA evidence from remains in the Jiahu settlement itself, as well as other evidence gathered, leads to speculation among researchers that there were one or more other ancient villages nearby, with peaceful interaction with the Jiahu in some form; but the sites of other villages nearby have not been located.


Inscribed symbols

At Jiahu, archaeologists identified eleven markings of
Jiahu symbols 100px, Example of Jiahu symbols. The Jiahu symbols () consist of 16 distinct markings on prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the desc ...
, also known as pictograms: nine on tortoise shells and two on bone, as possible evidence for
proto-writing Proto-writing consists of visible marks Communication, communicating limited information. Such systems emerged from earlier traditions of symbol systems in the early Neolithic, as early as the 7th millennium BC in Ancient China, China. They used ...
. The markings correspond to the middle phase. Some of the markings are quite similar to later
Chinese character Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, ...

Chinese character
s; two of the most intriguing marks appear to be similar to later characters for ''eye'' () and ''sun'' (). However, correspondence of many early non-writing symbols with the
Shang dynasty The Shang dynasty (), also historically known as the Yin dynasty (), was a Chinese dynasty Dynasties in Chinese history, or Chinese dynasties, were hereditary monarchical regimes that ruled over China during much of its history. From ...

Shang dynasty
period
oracle bone Oracle bones () are pieces of ox scapula In anatomy, the scapula (plural scapulae or scapulas), also known as the shoulder bone, shoulder blade, wing bone, speal bone or blade bone, is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with t ...

oracle bone
writing is to be expected, given the pictographic style of many of the Shang characters. In later Chinese culture dating to around 3500 BC, tortoise shells were used as a form of divination. These were subjected to intense heat, and the cracks that formed were read as omens. The cracks were then carved as permanent marks on the surface of the shell. The evidence of shell pictograms from Jiahu may indicate that this tradition, or a related one, has much deeper roots in ancient Chinese culture than previously considered.


End of the village: a flood

Based on the archaeological evidence, a severe flood from the nearby rivers submerged most or all of the Jiahu settlement under a few feet of water sometime around 5700 BC. The inhabitants evacuated. It is not known where they went. The absence of tools and weapons in most of the residences indicates that they were able to salvage most of their belongings. They may have built a new village that has not been discovered, emigrated to the Peiligang villages, or scattered. Zhang Juzhong imagines that they were led by their tribal priest to build a new village nearby on higher ground, so that they could send salvage parties to the old village site. The new village site has never been found. The demolishing of older structures to salvage materials for the construction of new ones may have eradicated the site of the new village if it existed.


Notes


References

* * * * *


External links


Introduction to Jiahu site at The Metropolitan Museum of Art





Ancient brew discovered in China

BBC on tortoise shells discovered in China


* ttps://carleton.ca/~bgordon/Rice/papers/chen95.htm Neolithic rice cultivation
New Archaeological Discoveries and Researches in 2004 - New achievements in botanic archaeology in China
{{Neolithic cultures of China Neolithic cultures of China Former populated places in China Chinese music Major National Historical and Cultural Sites in Henan