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The Cradle of Civilization
  Shanxi, in the middle reaches of the Yellow River and the hinterland of China, with its magnificent landscape and pleasant climate, has been regarded as the cradle of the ancient Chinese civilization.
  The Yellow River winds its way like a dragon eastward into the sea. At its most torrential turn there is a small village called Xihoudu. About 1.8 million years ago, our remote ancestors made the earliest stone implements of China, sparking the first flame in the dark to begin the Chinese history. Time went by as generations lived on, while human beings left traces of their lives in between Mountains Taihang and Luliang and Rivers Fenshui and Sanggan.
  When it came into the Neolithic Age, the splendid material cultures were created at every corner of Shanxi. Like hundreds of creeks and rivers joining the sea and countless stars sparking in the sky, civilized states rose up in the land. At the foot of the Tai’er Mountain, ruins of ancient cities and palaces, bronze ritual vessels, evidence of ancient writings, observatories, and especially objects imagining the dragon – the symbol of Chinese national spirit, all come alive after being buried under the earth for 4,500 years. The history of Shanxi reveals that the homeland created the earliest human cultures of China, which originated the history in its entity coming to this day.


  Unearthed in Yuanqu, ape fossils dated probably to 45 million years ago might be one of the earliest forms of world’s primates. From probably 3 million to the end of Pleistocene era, the time archaeologists called Palaeolithic, our remote ancestors lived in small mobile groups, scavenging for foods, as well as hunting, gathering, and fishing. Their way of life progressed from eating uncooked carcasses to using and making fires. They passed along knowledge of stone tool technology from generations to generations, thus creating material cultures that distinguish one from another.

  In Shanxi, more than 300 palaeolithic sites have been identified so far, the highest number of sites dating before 10,000 B.P. ever found in a single province. The archaeological evidences from these recovered materials point to the fact that two main cultural complexes, represented by two different stone tool industries, might have co-existed in North China. The study of these materials provides us with a unique opportunity to understand the past of Shanxi in Palaeolithic time.


Neolithic began around 10,000 BP. People began to use ground stone implements, to make pottery, and to build houses. The way of life was greatly improved. Agriculture and husbandry began to emerge. People began to settle down in the form of clan society. And their aesthetic sensation had become stronger. All this added up to help in advance towards civilizations.

In Shanxi, more than 2,000 Neolithic sites dating to 4,000 – 7,000 BP including well-known early farming village site of Zaoyuan as well as Xiyin site with famous pottery wares. The discovery of Taosi site gave a vivid picture of the legendary Tangyao and exhibited an embryonic the beginning of state formation which manifests that the south of Shanxi is indeed the taproot of the Chinese nation and its civilization.