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Write up Assignment:

As introduced in the lecture “The Origins of Chinese Civilization” the Banpo Neolithic Village site was a village of the Yangshao culture that was occupied from around 5000 BCE to 4000 BCE, and was located in present-day Xi’an city. A portion of the site was excavated from 1953-1957, and an excellent museum stands over the excavated area.

Write-up: Please answer the following questions in around two short paragraphs.

1) How spacious are the house foundations? How many family members do you think could reside in one of these? Are the round houses any different in size from the square houses? Did you find evidence of a hearth in these house foundations?

2) How deep does the trench/moat seem? It originally completely encircled the site. What do you think this was used for, to keep people out? To keep predators like tigers or wolves out? Or to keep domestic animals in? Why do you think this way?

Write-Up Assignment for “The Banpo Neolithic Village Site”
As introduced in the lecture “The Origins of Chinese Civilization” the
Banpo Neolithic Village site was a village of the Yangshao culture that
was occupied from around 5000 BCE to 4000 BCE, and was located in
present-day Xi’an city. A portion of the site was excavated from
1953-1957, and an excellent museum stands over the excavated area.
Write-up: Please answer the following questions in around two short
paragraphs.
1) How spacious are the house foundations? How many family
members do you think could reside in one of these? Are the round
houses any different in size from the square houses? Did you find
evidence of a hearth in these house foundations?
2) How deep does the trench/moat seem? It originally completely
encircled the site. What do you think this was used for, to keep people
out? To keep predators like tigers or wolves out? Or to keep domestic
animals in? Why do you think this way?
Lecture Outline:
The Two Ecosystems
0:21
The Yangshao Culture
4:35
Banpo Village
8:00
The Hemudu Site
9:46
The Late Neolithic
12:50
Longshan Culture
15:33
Liangzhu Culture
18:57
Erlitou State
21:28
Characteristics of Early Chinese Civilization
23:36
let’s talk about where civilization comes from in China first.
0:03
Because this is where the first states,
0:17
the first cities arise in the East.
0:20
Okay. So, here is a map of China showing the spots where
agriculture first develops.
0:24
And those two separate inventions of agriculture in East Asia.
0:34
One takes place in North China
0:40
and one takes place in South China,
0:43
developing two different kinds of civilizations.
0:44
In the North, we have a much drier climate,
0:48
less regular rainfall than the South,
0:53
and the primary conduit,
0:56
of course, was the Yellow River.
0:59
We have the development of millet agriculture.
1:03
Millet is domesticated in North China by at least 6500 BC.
1:09
Millet is like a yellowy kind of grain,
1:15
it’s still a standard grain of large parts of North China.
1:18
This is supplemented by domestication of two main stock animals,
1:23
the pig and the cow, pig and oxen.
1:30
And we can first see this archaeologically, much known as the
Peiligang culture.
1:34
And the Peiligang site is indicated here.
1:40
If I can get my laser pointer to come back up.
1:44
Sure, bring my mouse up.
1:51
Peiligang here is spelled a little bit differently, in a different
romanization
1:52
but Peiligang is here.
1:56
It’s located on the terrace of the Yellow River, and at this site,
1:57
archaeologists discovered things like these.
2:03
And these are unmistakable signs of agriculture.
2:10
The top, in Spanish,
2:13
would be called the manos and metate.
2:15
This is a stone grinding platform for grinding grain into the flour you
make bread with.
2:17
And the bottom is a sickle.
2:23
You put this arm in the end of a stick
2:25
and this is what you chop down all the stalks of millet with.
2:26
So, at the places like that Cishan site and the Peiligang site,
2:32
they found these grinding platforms
2:38
as well as pottery, are used for storing or cooking grains.
2:40
As well as arrowheads and fishing hooks,
2:46
showing that hunting was still important and fishing.
2:48
And also, the domesticated pigs and cattle
2:51
but also domesticated dogs for both food and hunting and
companionship.
2:54
Now in the South, along the Yangtze River,
3:02
let me put my mouse back here.
3:10
Gather around here, around where the Yangtze meets the sea,
3:14
it’s much warmer and wetter, much more rainfall.
3:18
And so, the crop that’s domesticed here is rice.
3:21
And rice by at least 7000 BC.
3:26
And there are some recent finds that might be it’s at least 9000 BC
for rice.
3:30
While rice is indigenous to most of Southeast Asia
3:34
and South China, and so it’s probably domesticated in South China
around 9000 BC.
3:38
And we also have the pig
3:43
and the ox as the main stock animals in the South.
3:50
So, this is the origins of Chinese agriculture.
3:56
So, by 7000 BC, hoboth the North and the South are living in
villages, year-round,
4:00
in the same place, they’re not hunting and gathering anymore
4:07
and they’re growing crops.
4:10
Then, I want to get to the next period of time,
4:15
a period from 5000 to 3000 BC
4:20
where this village-level society is now firmly established.
4:22
And when we look archaeologically at one of these village sites,
4:27
one in the North, one in the South,
4:30
to see some of the culture of this area.
4:32
So, in the North,
4:35
I will look at what’s known as the Yangshao culture here.
4:38
And so, it’s this big blob that I’ve marked off here.
4:43
Especially, the sites here like five,
4:47
six and seven and four here.
4:49
This is the Yangshao culture,
4:52
Y-A-N-G-S-H-A-O in North China.
4:53
The Yangshao culture was first discovered because they have
beautiful painted pottery.
4:59
These red and black painted jars were found in
5:05
burials and were full of grain or fermented beverages
5:09
and they were buried around the deceased.
5:13
The Yangshao culture itself goes from 5000 to 3000 BC in the
North.
5:16
It was discovered in the 1920s by a Swede named Johan Gunnar
Andersson
5:25
who was actually looking for coal and iron deposits for
5:31
the Chinese Government and managed to discover Stone Age sites
as well as Peking Man,
5:34
that famous Homo erectus fossils.
5:39
So, the Yangshao culture of the North was, once again,
5:43
based on millet agriculture
5:47
supplemented by hunting and fishing, hunting mostly deer.
5:50
And they practiced very detailed painted pottery like I showed you
on the earlier slide.
5:59
And it’s thought that,
6:07
I’ll bring that slide back,
6:08
that the different designs on
6:10
the painted pottery indicate a different tribal affiliations.
6:12
Different areas have different patterning and different markings.
6:16
The villages were sometimes surrounded a moat or a short wall.
6:22
And it’s unclear whether this was for
6:31
protection from external enemies
6:34
like other villages trying to raise their cattle or pigs,
6:38
or maybe just to keep the cattle and pigs from escaping the village.
6:41
But many of these villages were surrounded by a moat or a wall.
6:44
And the houses are semi-subterranean,
6:47
there’re about one meter underground with an above ground portion
as well,
6:50
and I’ll show you what some of these have look like in a
reconstruction.
6:53
And this is, of course, good for keeping cool in summer,
6:58
warm in the winters, having your house partially underground.
7:02
Now, these are not cities.
7:06
These are not states.
7:10
These are chiefdom or village tribal-level societies.
7:11
So, there are very little difference between the richest and the
poorest.
7:16
If you look at graves, almost everyone
7:21
has the same level of wealth, which is very little.
7:23
So there is no gold.
7:26
There’s no silver. There’s no human sacrifices.
7:27
Every one of these basically of equal status except for markers of
age or gender.
7:30
So, you might have a tribal elder,
7:36
maybe the eldest male of a tribe,
7:39
who might be senior to everyone else, but he’s not a king.
7:40
He can’t force anyone to do anything really except through
persuasion.
7:44
And the key site, the one I want to show a map is on Banpo Village
near modern Xi’an,
7:50
they excavated an entire Yangshao period village.
7:58
And this has occupied from at least 5000 to 4000 BC.
8:03
Here’s a map of the entire village.
8:08
There’s a moat, a ditched moat, surrounding the village, and they
bury their dead
8:18
outside of the village in the cemetery, and inside
8:24
there’s several kilns and storage areas, and this is what Banpo
house looked like.
8:28
This is somewhere in North China,
8:35
how they would live in 5000 BC.
8:36
There’s a sloping entrance, which kind of takes you down partly
underground.
8:38
And the building itself is made of wattle and daub.
8:44
It’s made of sticks connected together,
8:47
covered with mud and with a thatched roof,
8:49
where the central fire pit and smoke would then go up through the
top.
8:53
So this is where the villages in North China look like around 5000
BC.
8:57
And here’s another and Yangshao period village nearby. The site of
Jiangzhai.
9:05
Once again you see the same feature of the moated ditch around it.
9:11
And you do see that there are some bigger houses than others.
9:16
And these have been interpreted as a kind of
9:21
clan based organization that you see
9:24
several groupings of small houses with one big house.
9:26
Kind of like a log house.
9:30
This is where that clan would meet together kind of for communal
meetings.
9:32
Okay. So that’s not China.
9:40
Now, let’s go and look at South China.
9:43
Down here, at the site of Hemudu.
9:47
Hemudu, H-E-M-U-D-U, is located here near where the Yangtze
meets the sea.
9:51
The site of Hemudu was discovered here in
10:07
the 1970s in Zhejiang province was occupied from 5500 to 4000
BC.
10:13
This site is amazing from an archaeological point of view
10:18
because the site was wet for 6,000 years.
10:24
All of the organic remains were preserved.
10:31
So there are things that come from the site of Hemudu that
10:35
you don’t see anywhere else in the world from this time period.
10:38
Things like baskets or weaving shuttles,
10:41
toys, things like that, including things like a wooden oar,
10:45
used to paddle around boats.
10:56
So we know that this was a very marshy area.
10:59
Their houses were built up on stilts,
11:02
and many of these stilts survived and they were connected with very
complex carpentry.
11:06
And down below the houses,
11:14
there are enormous remains of rice dumped
11:18
out over the house after it was burned or spoiled.
11:22
And so we have actual grains of rice from 5000 BC,
11:27
so we know what they ate.
11:31
And we also know how they farmed.
11:33
This is an actual shovel made from the shoulder bone of a cow from
5000 BC.
11:36
And you can see this part of a stick that it was
11:46
attached to and how it was actually attached with string.
11:48
That string is original from 7,000 years ago.
11:51
Because often, when you get stone age tools,
11:55
all you get is the end part.
11:57
You never see how it was actually attached to something.
11:58
We also have actual pieces of silk.
12:02
We know that they already domesticated the silkworm.
12:07
And we have the weavings shuttle.
12:10
This is the thing that you attach the thread to and run
12:11
it back and forth through the loom.
12:13
And most amazingly, we even have the Tatami mats that they sat
on.
12:15
And so this is a woven weed mat from the site of Hemudu.
12:22
So we in the north we have mat agriculture, semi subterranean
houses.
12:28
And in the south we have rice agriculture,
12:35
houses up on stilts in wet areas,
12:38
as well as fishing and hunting.
12:41
Okay. The next major block of time in
12:45
the Chinese Neolithic or new stone age is between 3000 and 2000
BC.
12:51
So villages have been around for about 4,000 years.
12:57
But gradually things started to change.
13:02
You start to see more status differences.
13:07
You start to see more complex societies.
13:11
You start to see richer individuals and poor individuals.
13:14
So between 3000 and 2000 BC,
13:18
we has now call this a chiefdom level society.
13:21
There are certain individuals buried with a lot of grave wealth,
13:24
and these people we would indicate are hereditary chiefs.
13:28
And they have their position based on their relationship to the
previous chief.
13:33
And their burials were with tons of let’s say, ceramics,
13:40
maybe jade, whereas other burials have almost nothing except for
maybe a weaving shuttle.
13:46
So big differences in status.
13:51
Also we also see big-walled settlements for the first time,
13:54
enormous walls that may have taken thousands of man-hours to
build.
13:59
And these are definitely for defensive purposes because there is
14:04
tremendous evidence of warfare in this period.
14:08
There’s lots of bodies riddled with arrowheads that you find in
tombs.
14:12
Bodies dumped on wells, burned villages.
14:17
So there’s large scale warfare for the first time.
14:20
These groups are fighting each other and merging into
14:24
larger and larger political formations.
14:26
We also see for the first time experiments in writing.
14:32
And we’re going to spend a good deal one of the hours next week,
14:38
looking at the origins of Chinese writing and the Chinese language.
14:43
Where does it come from?
14:46
How is it structured?
14:48
How can you read it? But this period is also the first experiments in
writing.
14:49
You start to see written on pot shirts and other things.
14:55
A series of signs which can’t be anything other than writing.
14:58
We don’t know what it says.
15:02
We can’t read it because it doesn’t have any descendants,
15:03
but it’s definitely writing.
15:06
And this of course is to manage a society which has grown more
complex,
15:09
to have record keeping of grain or military rations, things like that.
15:17
So let’s look at two late neolithic cultures,
15:24
one in the north, one in the south again.
15:28
In the north, we’ll look at Longshan up here in the Shandong
Peninsula,
15:31
the Shandong Longshan culture.
15:38
So the Longshan culture in the north between 3000 and 2000 BC
15:42
is known for very sophisticated pottery but also it’s enormous walled
cities.
15:47
There’s a city called Chengziyai which has a 20-foot tall wall.
15:54
That’s 29 feet thick at the base.
15:59
So it still stands today because it’s so thick.
16:02
And it was made not out of bricks,
16:06
but out of what’s known as hangtu or rammed earth.
16:09
Rammed earth is a particular way of building in China which is still
practiced today.
16:15
Stone is not very plentiful in North China.
16:21
So instead of building a stone wall, you make a dirt wall.
16:24
You take wooden forms and you set them up on both sides.
16:27
You put dirt in the middle and you ram it down with tampers.
16:31
And then you take the wooden forms off,
16:34
lift them up higher, and put more dirt in.
16:36
That’s how the Great Wall was built.
16:39
The Great Wall was made of stone,
16:41
the Great Wall was made of dirt.
16:42
The wall you see today dates from the 15th century AD and was
built by the Ming Dynasty.
16:44
The original Great Wall was built like this, out of dirt.
16:49
And you can see the layers in the dirt even today,
16:53
where each form was raised.
16:57
You can see about 20-centimeter thick layers going up.
16:59
Now, I mentioned before that that there’s evidence in the Longshan
period for
17:04
violent warfare and you don’t get any more specific than this.
17:10
This is a wall at the site of [inaudible] in which
17:16
a whole bunch of peasants from one village were dumped
17:20
in the well after they were massacred in a raid,
17:22
and their skeletons are riddled with arrowheads stuck in the bones.
17:25
The other thing that the Longshan is known for is very sophisticated
pottery.
17:31
This is known as eggshell ware because it’s
17:37
as thin as an eggshell and the way they did that is it’s on wheel.
17:41
Potter’s wheel was invented during this time period in China
independently from the West,
17:44
and they made this very delicate thin eggshell ware to bury with very
rich people.
17:49
These were mostly elite burials.
17:55
We also see some experiments in writing in
18:03
the Longshan culture area as well as experiments in metallurgy.
18:07
I’ll show you the writing examples next week when we talk about
writing systems.
18:15
The other thing that’s special about the Longshan culture is many of
18:22
its culture traits are ancestral to what will become the Shang
Dynasty of China,
18:27
the first historical dynasty that we’re going to talk about next week.
18:31
Their method of burial and their wine rituals,
18:34
their vessel shapes, very,
18:38
very similar to what would later be historical Shang dynasty culture.
18:40
Now, we move to the south and look at Liangzhu.
18:46
Liangzhu located down here,
18:51
almost in the exact same area as Hemudu that we saw earlier.
18:56
Liangzhu 3000 to 2000 BC once again.
19:01
Huge ritual platforms built of ware and earth where
19:07
a whole football field is lifted 20 feet high into the air,
19:12
and on top of this platform,
19:16
temples and tombs of chiefs.
19:18
These tombs contain enormous amounts of wealth in the form of
jade.
19:22
The Liangzhu culture was famous for its jades,
19:27
which took thousands of man hours to grind using coarse sand and
string,
19:30
and no metal tools.
19:35
And also, for the first time, human sacrifice.
19:38
The greatest indicator of status differences is when someone is
cheap enough to somebody
19:42
else that they can be sacrificed as an offering in the tomb of
somebody else,
19:47
so it’s the first human sacrifice in China.
19:53
Experiments in writing in the south,
19:57
a form of writing which dries out,
20:00
we can’t read it, but small written inscriptions.
20:02
As I mentioned, the primary status marker was jade.
20:06
The wealthiest individuals are buried with thousands of very
expensive jades,
20:10
and we show you some of these jades.
20:17
This is a tomb of probably a chief from the site of Sidun.
20:22
Each of these jades is about a foot long and apparently probably ran
20:28
through with some kind of rope at
20:33
some point because there are kind of steel mat formation,
20:35
and these jades have very interesting iconography on them.
20:38
This is a closeup of one of the jades.
20:41
It appears to show a person in a feathered headdress riding
20:44
a beast and this has been interpreted as
20:47
a shaman riding his helper animal spirit
20:50
and communicating between the heavens and the earth.
20:53
So most followers think that
20:56
these Liangzhu period chieftains were actually shamans and they
had
20:58
their position of power because they were the ones communicating
21:02
between the spirit world of the ancestors and the human world.
21:06
Now, the first society that we could say was actually
21:16
a state level society that had classes,
21:21
cities, sophisticated political structures would be in the Erlitou
period.
21:25
And this is in North China.
21:32
This takes place between 1900 and 1500 BC.
21:35
Two palaces were found.
21:39
They looked very much like palaces and temples from
21:42
later Chinese dynasties and palaces in China always face south,
same in Japan.
21:45
The king is always in the north facing south.
21:50
Also bronze metallurgy, fully developed bronze metallurgy,
21:54
very rich royal graves.
21:59
Now, the controversy about the Erlitou site in North China is that
22:02
some people believe that this is the Xia dynasty, X I A.
22:07
This is a legendary dynasty which still has yet to be proven.
22:12
Because there is no written documents yet discovered from the
Erlitou site,
22:17
we can’t prove whether this is really the Xia dynasty.
22:22
So we still call it legendary.
22:25
The first historical dynasty is the Shang dynasty that we’ll look at
next week.
22:28
Now, I want to show you a few quick slides of the Erlitou site,
22:37
but I can go back to this slide in a little bit if you want.
22:44
This is where the palace is.
22:48
You see the plan of the palace.
22:50
This is about half a football field wide and about a football field
22:52
long with the palace building here at the back facing south.
22:57
Here’s the entrance gate,
23:01
exactly the way that later Chinese palaces will be built, always
square.
23:03
This is a bronze plaque inlaid with
23:08
turquoise formed on the chest of some of these individuals in the
rich graves,
23:12
also showing a kind of animal,
23:18
possibly another shaman’s helper spirit,
23:20
and these are the bronze vessels.
23:24
We’ll talk a lot about bronze next Tuesday.
23:26
They were used to sacrifice to the ancestors.
23:29
These were used for grain and alcoholic beverages.
23:32
So the last two minutes,
23:37
let me sum up quickly the characteristics of
23:39
early Chinese civilization and now put all these down there.
23:43
So first of all, grain-based irrigation agriculture.
23:49
Managing the irrigation of big rivers like
23:56
the Yangtze and the Yellow River requires labor and
24:01
management and that’s where political bodies come in to
24:06
manage that kind of labor needed for irrigation agriculture,
24:10
very different than what you get in Western Europe
24:15
but very similar to what you get in Egypt or Mesopotamia.
24:18
Intense social stratification, from
24:23
the king all the way down to the peasant and the slaves.
24:26
The cities are always square.
24:31
The palace is always in the north facing south.
24:35
We also already see their characteristic of
24:39
ancestor worship as one of the main religious forms,
24:43
and next week, we’ll be reading actual messages from
24:46
the ancestors in the form of cracks in bones that you can read.
24:50
Bronze vessels and weapons,
24:56
but not bronze tools.
25:00
Bronze was only used for weapons and ritual assets but never for
agricultural tools.
25:02
They still use stone and wood, and pyromancy,
25:08
which is divination through cracking and burning bones,
25:13
and I’ll show you much more detail about pyromancy next week.
25:17
So those are the characteristics of early Chinese civilization which
would
25:22
carry into the historical period. So that’s it for today.
25:26

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