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The Longshan (or Lung-shan) culture, also sometimes referred to as the Black Pottery Culture, was a late
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 ...
culture in the middle and lower
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 ...
valley areas of northern China from about 3000 to 1900 BC. The first
archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance Substance may refer to: * Substance (Jainism), a term in Jain ontology to denote ...
find of this culture took place at the Chengziya Archaeological Site in 1928, with the first excavations in 1930 and 1931. The culture is named after the nearby modern town of Longshan (lit. "Dragon Mountain") in
Zhangqiu Zhangqiu () is one of 10 District (China), urban districts of the prefecture-level city of Jinan, the capital of Shandong, Shandong Province, East China, East China. The district has an area of 1721.29 square kilometers, 20 towns, 908 villages an ...
,
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subn ...

Shandong
. The culture was noted for its highly polished black pottery (or egg-shell pottery). The population expanded dramatically during the 3rd millennium BC, with many settlements having
rammed earth Rammed earth is a technique for construction, constructing foundations, floors, and walls using natural raw materials such as soil, earth, chalk, Lime (material), lime, or gravel. It is an ancient method that has been revived recently as a sustainab ...

rammed earth
walls. It decreased in most areas around 2000 BC until the central area evolved into the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age sys ...
Erlitou culture The Erlitou culture was an early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in ...
. The Longshan culture has been linked to the early Sinitic (of the Sino-Tibetan languages).


History

A distinctive feature of the Longshan culture was the high level of skill in
pottery making
pottery making
, including the use of pottery wheels, producing thin-walled and polished black pottery. This pottery was widespread in North China, and also found in the
Yangtze River The Yangtze or Yangzi ( or ) is the longest river in Asia, the third-longest in the world and the longest in the world to flow entirely within one country. It rises at Jari Hill in the Tanggula Mountains The Tanggula ( Chinese:  ...
valley and as far as the southeastern coast. Until the 1950s, such black pottery was considered the principal diagnostic, and all of these sites were assigned to the Longshan culture. In the first edition of his influential survey ''The Archaeology of Ancient China'', published in 1963,
Kwang-chih Chang Kwang-chih Chang (; 1931 – January 3, 2001), commonly known as K. C. Chang, was a Chinese / Taiwanese-American archaeologist and sinologist. He was the John E. Hudson Professor of archaeology at Harvard University Harvard University is a P ...
described the whole area as a "Longshanoid horizon", suggesting a fairly uniform culture attributed to expansion from a core area in the
Central Plain
Central Plain
. More recent discoveries have uncovered much more regional diversity than previously thought, so that many local cultures included within Chang's Longshanoid horizon are now viewed as distinct cultures, and the term "Longshan culture" is restricted to the middle and lower Yellow River valley. For example, the contemporaneous culture of the lower Yangtze area is now described as the
Liangzhu culture The Liangzhu culture (; 3300–2300 BC) was the last 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 f ...
. At the same time, researchers recognized the diversity within the Yellow River valley by distinguishing regional variants in Henan, Shanxi and Shaanxi from the Shandong or "classic" Longshan. In the fourth edition of his book (1986), Chang moved from a model centered on the Central Plain to a model of distinctive regional cultures whose development was stimulated by interaction between regions, a situation he called the "Chinese interaction sphere". Also in the 1980s, Yan Wenming proposed the term "Longshan era" to encompass cultures of the late Neolithic (3rd millennium BC) across the area, though he assigned the Central Plain a leading role.


Agriculture

The most important crop was
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 ...
, but traces of
broomcorn millet ''Panicum miliaceum'' is a grain crop with many common names, including proso millet, broomcorn millet, common millet, hog millet, Kashfi millet, red millet, and white millet. Archaeological evidence suggests that the crop was first domesticated ...
,
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
and
wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat Common wheat (''Triticum aestivum'' ...

wheat
have also been found. Rice grains have been found in Shandong and southern Henan, and a small rice field has been found on the
Liaodong peninsula The Liaodong Peninsula (also Liaotung Peninsula, ) is a peninsula in southern Liaoning province in Northeast China, and makes up the southwestern coastal half of the Liaodong region. It is located between the river mouth, mouths of the Daliao ...
. Specialized tools for digging, harvesting and grinding grain have been recovered. The most common source of meat was the pig. Sheep and goats were apparently domesticated in the
Loess Plateau The Chinese Loess Plateau, or simply the Loess Plateau, is a plateau In geology Geology (from the Ancient Greek γῆ, ''gē'' ("earth") and -λoγία, ''-logia'', ("study of", "discourse")) is an Earth science concerned with the solid ...
area in the 4th millennium BC, found in western Henan by 2800 BC, and then spread across the middle and lower Yellow River area. Dogs were also eaten, particularly in Shandong, though cattle were less important. Small-scale production of
silk Silk is a natural Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxies, and all o ...

silk
by raising and domesticating the
silkworm ''Bombyx mori'', the domestic silk moth, is an insect from the moth Moths are a paraphyletic In taxonomy, a group is paraphyletic if it consists of the group's last common ancestor and all descendants of that ancestor excluding a ...

silkworm
in early
sericulture Sericulture, or silk farming, is the cultivation of silkworm ''Bombyx mori'', the domestic silk moth, is an insect from the moth Moths are a paraphyletic In taxonomy, a group is paraphyletic if it consists of the group's last ...

sericulture
was also known.


Ritual

Remains have been found in Shaanxi and southern Henan of scapulae of cattle, pigs, sheep and deer that were heated as a form of
divination Divination (from Latin ''divinare'', 'to foresee, to foretell, to predict, to prophesy') is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occult The occult, in the broadest sense, is a category of supernatural ...

divination
. Evidence of human sacrifice becomes more common in Shaanxi and the Central Plain in the late Longshan period.


Early period

Excavations in the 1950s in Shanxian, western Henan, identified a Miaodigou II phase (3000 to 2600 BC) transitional between the preceding
Yangshao culture The Yangshao culture was 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 hi ...
and the later Henan Longshan. A minority of archaeologists have suggested that this phase, which is contemporaneous with the late
Dawenkou culture Image:Dawenkou Gui Dazhucun.jpg, ''Guī'' (鬹) from Dawenkou Culture The Dawenkou culture is a name given by Archeology, archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jian ...
in Shandong, should instead be assigned to the Yangshao culture, but most describe it as the early phase of the Henan Longshan. Some scholars argue that the late Dawenkou culture should be considered the early phase of the Shandong Longshan culture. Miaodigou II sites are found in central and western Henan, southern Shanxi and the Wei River valley in Shaanxi. The tools and pottery found at these sites were significantly improved from those of the preceding Yangshao culture. Agriculture was intensified, and the consumption of domesticated animals (pigs, dogs, sheep and cattle) greatly increased. Similarities in ceramic styles of central Henan Miaodigou II with the late Dawenkou culture to the east and the late
Qujialing culture The Qujialing culture (3400–2600 BC) 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 see ...
to the south suggest trade contacts between the regions. There were also expansions from middle and late Dawenkou sites (3500-2600 BC) toward central Henan and northern Anhui which coincides the era of maximum marine transgression.


Late period

The late period (2600 to 2000 BC) of the Longshan culture in the middle Yellow River area is contemporaneous with the classic Shandong Longshan culture. Several regional variants of the late middle Yellow River Longshan have been identified, including Wangwan III in western Henan, Hougang II in northern Henan and southern Hebei,
Taosi Taosi () is an archaeological site in Xiangfen County, Shanxi, China. Taosi is considered to be part of the late phase of the Longshan culture in southern Shanxi, also known as the Taosi phase (2300 BC to 1900 BC). Archaeology Taosi was surrounded ...
in the
Fen River The Fen River drains the center of , . It originates in the of in northeast Shanxi, flows southeast into the basin of , and then south through the central valley of before turning west to join the west of . The Fen and the s are the two lar ...
basin in southern Shanxi, and several clusters on the middle reaches of the
Jing River The Jing River () or Jing He (Pinyin: ''Jīng Hé''), also called Jing Shui (), is a tributary of the Wei River (), which in turn is the largest tributary of the Yellow River. The Jing River flows for , with a basin area of . The river's flow va ...
and
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
collectively known as Kexingzhuang II or the Shaanxi Longshan. As the Neolithic population in China reached its peak, hierarchies of settlements developed. In physically circumscribed locations, such as the basin of the
Fen River The Fen River drains the center of , . It originates in the of in northeast Shanxi, flows southeast into the basin of , and then south through the central valley of before turning west to join the west of . The Fen and the s are the two lar ...
in southern Shanxi, the Yellow River in western Henan (confined by the Zhongtiao Mountains and Xiao Mountains) and the coastal
Rizhao Rizhao (), alternatively romanized as Jihchao, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban ar ...

Rizhao
plain of southeast Shandong, a few very large (over 200 ha) centers developed. In more open areas, such as the rest of Shandong, the Central Plain (in Henan) and the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
basin in Shaanxi, local centers were more numerous, smaller (generally 20 to 60 ha) and fairly evenly spaced. Walls of
rammed earth Rammed earth is a technique for construction, constructing foundations, floors, and walls using natural raw materials such as soil, earth, chalk, Lime (material), lime, or gravel. It is an ancient method that has been revived recently as a sustainab ...

rammed earth
have been found in 20 towns in Shandong, 9 in the Central Plain and one (
Taosi Taosi () is an archaeological site in Xiangfen County, Shanxi, China. Taosi is considered to be part of the late phase of the Longshan culture in southern Shanxi, also known as the Taosi phase (2300 BC to 1900 BC). Archaeology Taosi was surrounded ...
) in southern Shanxi, suggesting conflict between polities in these areas.


Shandong Longshan

The center of Shandong is a mountainous area, including
Mount Tai Mount Tai () is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai'an Tai'an () is a prefecture-level city Image:Yangxin-renmin-huanyin-ni-0022.jpg, A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () r ...

Mount Tai
(1,545 m) and other several other peaks over 1000 m. Longshan settlements are found on the plains surrounding this massif. To the north are four evenly spaced walled centers,
Chengziya Chengziya, also spelled Chengziyai, is a Chinese archaeological site and the location of the first discovery of the neolithic Longshan culture in 1928. The discovery of the Longshan culture at Chengziya was a significant step towards understandin ...
, Dinggong, Tianwang and Bianxianwang (from west to east), with the largest, Chengziya, enclosing only 20 ha. A pottery sherd inscribed with 11 symbols was found at Dinggong, but scholars disagree on whether it should be dated to the Neolithic period. The largest sites yet found in Shandong are Liangchengzhen (273 ha) and Yaowangcheng (368 ha). Both sites are near the southeast coast in the
Rizhao Rizhao (), alternatively romanized as Jihchao, is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban ar ...

Rizhao
area, with Yaowangcheng about 35 km to the south of Liangchengzhen. Each site is surrounded by a hierarchy of economically integrated settlements, but there are relatively few settlements in the area between the two, suggesting that they were political centers of rival polities. Production of pottery, stone tools and textiles was common. There is also evidence suggesting the production of fermented beverages and prestige items made from jade and metal. Since both jade prestige items and utilitarian goods such as stone tools and pottery have been found at the sites, this suggests that they were also regional centers for production and exchange of goods. At Liangchengzhen, rice, foxtail millet, broomcorn millet and wheat were grown. Foxtail millet was the most important crop in terms of the amount grown, however it was primarily used for animal fodder. Rice was the preferred food for human consumption. Relative to other Longshan-era cultures, the gap between rich and poor in the Shandong Longshan was far less pronounced and there seemed to be less violence compared to other Longshan sites. The Shandong Longshan developed out of the
Dawenkou culture Image:Dawenkou Gui Dazhucun.jpg, ''Guī'' (鬹) from Dawenkou Culture The Dawenkou culture is a name given by Archeology, archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jian ...
and was succeeded by the Bronze Age
Yueshi culture The Yueshi culture () was an archaeological culture in the Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative ...
.


Hougang II

The Hougang II variant of Longshan culture is located in northern Henan and Southern Hebei. The sites of this Longshan subtradition are densely distributed along the rivers in this region, many of the sites being less than 1 km apart. Walled sites include Hougang (10 ha) and Mengzhuang (16 ha). The Hougang II variant is known for having the first wells in the Yellow River area and the method they employed continued to be used by early bronze-age states in the region.


Wangwan III

The Wangwan III variant of the Longshan culture is located in western and central
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
province. The number of sites in this region triples from the
Yangshao The Yangshao culture was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the Yellow River in China. It is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC. The culture is named after the Yangshao site, the first excavated site of this culture, whi ...
period, developing into multi-centered competitive systems. There is evidence of metallurgy at the Wangchenggang site, though it is possibly attributed to later layers. The Wangwan III variant is said to have given rise to the
Erlitou culture The Erlitou culture was an early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in ...
, specifically a 70 ha walled center at Xinzhai is said to lead "typologically directly to early Eriltou".


Taosi

At 300 ha in area, the walled site at
Taosi Taosi () is an archaeological site in Xiangfen County, Shanxi, China. Taosi is considered to be part of the late phase of the Longshan culture in southern Shanxi, also known as the Taosi phase (2300 BC to 1900 BC). Archaeology Taosi was surrounded ...
in the
Linfen Linfen is a prefecture-level city in the southwest of Shanxi province, People's Republic of China, bordering Shaanxi province to the west. It is situated along the banks of the Fen River. It has an area of and according to the Seventh National ...

Linfen
Basin in southern
Shanxi Shanxi (; ; Chinese postal romanization, formerly romanised as Shansi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China and is part of the North China region. The capital and largest city of the province is ...

Shanxi
, is the largest Longshan settlement in the middle Yellow River area. Mortuary practices indicate a complex society with at least three social ranks. In the late Taosi period, the rammed-earth wall was destroyed, and there are indications of violence and political upheaval. At around the same time, the new large center of Fangcheng (230 ha) was built 20 km to the southeast of Taosi, on the other side of the Chong Mountains.


Sanliqiao II

Sanliqiao II sites are located on both sides of the Yellow River in western Henan, southwestern Shanxi and eastern Shaanxi. There are nearly a hundred settlements belonging to this regional variant which show three level settlement hierarchy. The largest site (Xiaojiaokou, 10 km southeast of modern
Sanmenxia Sanmenxia (; postal: Sanmenhsia) is a prefecture-level city A road sign shows distance to the "Huangshi urban area" () rather than simply " Yangxin County from the neighboring Xianning), but still from the Huangshi main urban area. A prefe ...

Sanmenxia
) is 240 ha in area, whereas local centers range from 30 ha to 70 ha. Dwelling types of Sanliqiao II culture include both aboveground and semi-subterranean type houses as well as homes horizontally dug into loess cliffs with walls frequently coated with plaster. There is noted similarity between the ceramics of this variant and that of the Kexingzhuang II variant.


Kexingzhuang II

Kexingzhuang II sites are scattered across the
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course ...
valley in southern
Shaanxi Shaanxi (; , ; Chinese postal romanization, alternately Shensi) is a landlocked Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Officially part of Northwest China, it borders the province-level divisions of Shanxi (NE, ...

Shaanxi
. The largest site in this area is 60 ha, which is less than half the size of the largest
Yangshao The Yangshao culture was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the Yellow River in China. It is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC. The culture is named after the Yangshao site, the first excavated site of this culture, whi ...
-era site in this region. A population decline is also noted during this period, which scholars attribute to migration caused by environmental changes. Out of 718 identified sites, 25 would be considered "medium sized" centers surrounded by small village settlements in three-level settlement hierarchy.


Decline

Towards the end of the 3rd millennium BC, the population decreased sharply in most of the region and many of the larger centres were abandoned, possibly due to environmental change linked to the end of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. This was matched by the disappearance of high-quality black pottery found in ritual burials. In contrast, there was a rapid growth of population and social complexity in the basin of the Yi and Luo rivers of central Henan, culminating in the
Erlitou culture The Erlitou culture was an early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric that was characterized by the use of , in some areas , and other early features of urban . The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the , as proposed in ...
. The material culture in this area shows a continuous development, through a Xinzhai phase centred on the Song Mountains immediately to the south. In the Taosi area, however, there is no such continuity between Longshan and Erlitou material culture, suggesting a collapse in that area and later expansion from the Erlitou core area.


See also

*
List of Neolithic cultures of China This is a list of 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, als ...
*
Shimao Shimao () is a Neolithic site in Shenmu County, Shaanxi, China. The site is located in the northern part of the Loess Plateau, on the southern edge of the Ordos Desert. It is dated to around 2000 BC, near the end of the Longshan culture, Longsha ...
*
Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of mythological Myth is a consisting of s that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or s. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as , s, ...
*
Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty #REDIRECT Xia dynasty The Xia dynasty is the first dynasty in traditional Chinese historiography. According to tradition, the Xia dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great, after Shun, the last of the Five ...

Xia dynasty


Notes


References

Works cited * * * * * * * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Longshan Culture Neolithic cultures of China 3rd-millennium BC establishments in China 2nd-millennium BC disestablishments