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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, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of ...
culture in the middle and lower
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{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...

Yellow River
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 of material culture. Archaeology is often considered a branch of socio-cultural anthropology, but archaeologists also draw from biological, geological, ...
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 urban districts of the prefecture-level city of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, East China. The district has an area of 1721.29 square kilometers, 20 towns, 908 villages and the permanent resident population was ...
,
Shandong Shandong (; alternately romanized as Shantung) is a coastal province of the People's Republic of China and is part of the East China region. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history since the beginning of Chinese civilization along ...
. 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, also known as ''taipa'' in Portuguese, ''tapial'' or ''tapia'' in Spanish, ''tàpia'' in Catalan, ''pisé (de terre)'' in French, ''bijenica'' in Serbian, and ''hāngtǔ'' (夯土) in Mandarin Chinese, is a technique for constructing f ...

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 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 Stone-Bronze-Iron s ...
Erlitou culture.


History

A distinctive feature of the Longshan culture was the high level of skill in 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 (Tibetan Plateau) and flows in a ge ...
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, Vice-President of the Academia S ...
described the whole area as a "Longshanoid horizon", suggesting a fairly uniform culture attributed to expansion from a core area in the 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 (; 3400–2250 BC) was the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta of China. The culture was highly stratified, as jade, silk, ivory and lacquer artifacts were found exclusively in elite burials, while pottery wa ...
. 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 b ...
,
rice Rice is the seed of the grass species ''Oryza sativa'' (Asian rice) or less commonly ''Oryza glaberrima'' (African rice). The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera ''Zizania'' and ''Porteresia'', both wild and domesticated, a ...
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 (''T. aestivum''). The archaeological rec ...

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 mouths of the Daliao River (the hi ...
. 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 Loess Plateau, (), is a plateau in north/northwest China with an elevation of , located around the southern half of the Yellow River's Ordos Loop and the valleys of its two largest tributaries, the Wei and Fen Rivers. The Loess Plateau covers ...
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 an audio compression format and audio codec developed by Skype Limited, now a Microsoft subsidiary. It was developed for use in Skype, as a replacement for the SVOPC codec. Since licensing out, it has also been used by others. It has been ...
by raising and domesticating the
silkworm ''Bombyx mori'', the domestic silk moth, is an insect from the moth family Bombycidae. It is the closest relative of ''Bombyx mandarina'', the wild silk moth. The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of a silk moth. It is an economically impor ...
in early
sericulture 200px, Silkworm and cocoon Sericulture, or silk farming, is the cultivation of silkworms to produce silk. Although there are several commercial species of silkworms, ''Bombyx mori'' (the caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth) is the most widely use ...
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', related to ''divinus'', 'divine'), or "to be inspired by a god," is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standard ...
. 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 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 ...
and the later Henan Longshan. A minority of archaeologists have suggested that this phase, which is contemporaneous with the late
Dawenkou culture ''Guī'' (鬹) from Dawenkou Culture The Dawenkou culture is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu, China. The culture existed from 4100 to ...
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 civilisation centered primarily on the middle Yangtze River region in Hubei and Hunan, China. The culture succeeded the Daxi culture and reached southern Shaanxi, northern Jiangxi and southwest ...
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 Shanxi Province, China. It originates in the Guancen Mountains of Ningwu County in northeast Shanxi, flows southeast into the basin of Taiyuan, and then south through the central valley of Shanxi before turning ...
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 var ...
and
Wei River The Wei River () is a major river in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization. The source of the Wei River is close to We ...
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 Shanxi Province, China. It originates in the Guancen Mountains of Ningwu County in northeast Shanxi, flows southeast into the basin of Taiyuan, and then south through the central valley of Shanxi before turning ...
in southern Shanxi, the Yellow River in western Henan (confined by the Zhongtiao Mountains and Xiao Mountains) and the coastal 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 in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization. The source of the Wei River is close to We ...
basin in Shaanxi, local centers were more numerous, smaller (generally 20 to 60 ha) and fairly evenly spaced. Walls of
rammed earth Rammed earth, also known as ''taipa'' in Portuguese, ''tapial'' or ''tapia'' in Spanish, ''tàpia'' in Catalan, ''pisé (de terre)'' in French, ''bijenica'' in Serbian, and ''hāngtǔ'' (夯土) in Mandarin Chinese, is a technique for constructing f ...

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 (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, 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 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 ''Guī'' (鬹) from Dawenkou Culture The Dawenkou culture is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu, China. The culture existed from 4100 to ...
and was succeeded by the Bronze Age Yueshi culture.


Hougang II

The Hougang II variant of Longshan culture is located in northern Henan and Southern Hubei. 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 province. The number of sites in this region triples from the Yangshao 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, 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 Basin in southern 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) 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 in west-central China's Gansu and Shaanxi provinces. It is the largest tributary of the Yellow River and very important in the early development of Chinese civilization. The source of the Wei River is close to We ...
valley in southern Shaanxi. The largest site in this area is 60 ha, which is less than half the size of the largest Yangshao-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 River (Henan), Yi and Luo River (Henan), Luo rivers of central Henan, culminating in the Erlitou culture. 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 * Shimao * Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors * Xia dynasty


Notes


References

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