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Yangshao Culture Village, Sanmenxia

Yangshao culture got its name from its place of first discovery: Yangshao Village in Sanmenxia. The Yangshao sites are World Cultural Heritage.

For those who have a love of prehistory or a fascination with ancient Chinese cultures, a visit to the Yangshao site that houses remnants of their culture offers an unparalleled opportunity to study this unusual culture firsthand. Visitors can wander through areas that show the finest finds of archeological significance, including expertly made fishhooks and needles fashioned out of bone, as well as skeletons of the village's former inhabitants.

The Yangshao Culture Relic Site

Yangshao Culture Relic Site (Yangshao Wenhua Yizhi 仰韶文化遗址 /yang-shao wnn-hwaa ee-jrr/) lies below Shao Mountain to the north. Yangshao (仰韶) means ‘to look up at Shao’.

In 1951 the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, discovered four distinct archeological layers in the soil: from bottom up… the middle and later periods of the Yangshao era, and the early and middle periods of the Longshan culture era. The site covers 300,000 square meters, with 2–4 meters depth of cultural-relic-containing soil.

There are not many visitors to the Yangshao Village site, despite its fame, because the tourist facilities and access are not very good. Now many of its artifacts are kept in Henan Museum and the Forbidden City.

Artifacts

During the 70 years since its discovery the site has been explored three times. The main discoveries are stoneware, boneware, pottery, and shellware.

Stone articles used for farming include axes, shovels, and chisels; and those used for hunting included stone arrow heads and spear heads. Boneware was mainly used for making cloth: like spinning wheels, bone needles, and bone spindles.

Pottery Items

People's daily utensils at that time were mainly pottery. There were unearthed pottery caldrons, jars, bowls, basins, cups, urns, crocks, etc.

The most attractive thing is the decorative patterns on the pottery, which have various forms of stripes, such as broadband stripes, web stripes, petal-like stripes, fish-like stripes, cord-like stripes, and geometrical patterns. These beautiful patterns reflect the ancient people's intelligence and pursuit of life's beauty. The distinctive colored pottery is a feature of Yangshao culture.

Yangshao Culture

The haunting beauty of the Yellow River was the setting for a Neolithic culture known as the Yangshao. The Yellow River is known as “the Mother River of China” as it influenced much of the history and trade of ancient China.

Renowned for their sophisticated use of pottery, the Yangshao people farmed the fertile river valley, constructed intricate villages, and perfected their distinctive artistic style.

“Colored Pottery Culture”

Yangshao Culture is also called colored pottery culture, as this Neolithic culture produced a lot of crude pottery. The Neolithic (New Stone) Age lasted from approximately three to five thousand years ago. It was during this span of time that the Yangshao people lived, raising animals such as pigs and harvesting crops such as millet and rice.

Their pottery was distinctive, known for its rich hues of black, red, and white, and decorations of intricate geometric patterns, such as stripes or webs. Their clay creations came in many different forms, such as bowls, crocks and platters, with some even used as burial containers.

Yangshao Lifestyle

In addition to their farming and fishing lifestyle, the Yangshao people were experts in creating cloth from hemp and silk. Archeological finds suggest that the wealthiest members of the society wore silk clothing and lived in houses constructed of wood and mud. It is theorized that these people were a matriarchal culture, although their religious beliefs and social structure are still something of a mystery.

The Banpo Village museum is another world renowned Yangshao Culture site.

Travel Essentials

When to Go

Yangshao Village can be visited year-round, although those visiting during the colder months should dress warmly for the outside exhibits. This part of China experiences a good deal of rain around August, and winters are cold and dry.

Location

Yangshao Village is 4 km (2½ miles) north of Mianchi Town, 50 km (30 miles) east of Sanmenxia, and 50 km west of Luoyang. Lying on the mesa south of Yangshao village, the site is beside Shao Mountain in the north, with a river running around its other three sides.

The city of Sanmenxia has a lovely setting, with its access to the Yellow River and its ring of high mountain peaks on three sides.

How to Get There

A visit to Yangshao Village can be conveniently tailored into one of our Xi’an tours or Luoyang tours, with private transport and guide. On your own seek transport from a long distance bus station in Sanmenxia or Luoyang, or hire a local taxi for the day.