CHINA: HISTORY-ARCHAEOLOGY

Early Humans

ca. 460,000 to 220,000 BCE
"Peking Man" at Zhoukhoudian and "Human Hybridization" [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey, NationalGeographic.com]
Select the section under "200,000 B.C." on the timeline, then click on each of the two orange pushpin-like icons over China to learn about "Peking man," whose nearly complete skullcap was unearthed in 1929 near the Chinese village of Zhoukhoudian. Under "Human Hybridization" learn about the current theory on "Peking Man" and his relationship to modern humans. Site removed at NGS temporarily; check back.

Neolithic Period

ca. 10,000 to 2,000 BCE
Video Unit Origin Stories [Open Learning Initiative, Harvard Extension School]
Lecture 2 of 37 from the Harvard Open Learning Initiative course, China: Traditions and Transformations. This 50-minute lecture presentation, with an accompanying slide presentation that can be controlled separately, is part of an introductory course on China for undergraduates at Harvard. Taught by two of the leading scholars of the China field — professors Peter Bol and William Kirby — the presentations provide background for teachers and students alike. Suitable for secondary school classrooms, especially AP-World History courses. (The link above leads to the main course page listing all 37 lectures. Scroll to Lecture 2: Origin Stories and select a connection type to view or listen to this lecture.)

Printable Map Maps of Chinese Dynasties: Neolithic Era [The Art of Asia, Minneapolis Institute of Arts]
Color map showing land occupied during China's neolithic period relative to present-day political boundaries. Can be downloaded as a .pdf file.

Interactive MapNeolithic Period, ca. 8000-ca. 2000 B.C. [Princeton University Art Museum]
A detailed introduction to Neolithic China. Discusses the Yangshao (ca. 4800-ca. 3000 B.C.), Majiayao (ca. 3800-ca. 2000 B.C.), Dawenkou (ca. 4300-ca. 2400 B.C.), Qijia (ca. 2200-ca. 1800 B.C.), and Longshan (ca. 2600-ca. 2000 B.C.) cultures. With two related objects, both with lengthy descriptions, and an interactive map with an excellent COMPARE feature that allows the user to select any two dynastic periods in Chinese history and compare them by moving from one map to the other.

Neolithic Period in China [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A brief discussion of the material culture of China's neolithic period, specifically painted pottery and jade carvings. With three related artworks.

Peking Man and Modern Humans [Nature Journal, 2016]
Fossil finds in China are challenging ideas about the evolution of modern humans and our closest relatives. See also reconstructed images of Peking Man at the American Museum of Natural History.

ca. 7,000 to 5,700 BCE
Jiahu [Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art]
A brief discussion of the archaeological site of Jiahu, in Henan province, where fragments of 30 flutes were discovered. Six of these flutes represent the earliest examples of playable musical instruments ever found.

5,000 to 4,000 BCE
Neolithic Village of Banpo [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey, NationalGeographic.com]
Select the section under "10,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C." on the timeline, then mouse over one of the four orange pushpin-like icons over China to learn about the Neolithic village of Banpo, which was on the Wei River in northern China. Site removed at NGS temporarily; check back.

5,000 to 3,000 BCE
Yangshao Culture [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey, NationalGeographic.com]
Select the section under "10,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C." on the timeline, then mouse over one of the four orange pushpin-like icons over China to learn about the Yangshao Culture, which flourished in the Yellow River basin area from around 5,000 B.C. Site removed at NGS temporarily; check back.

Crops

ca. 8,000 to 5,000 BCE
Rice Was First Grown at Least 9,400 Years Ago in China [The Atlantic]
"Around 10,000 years ago, as the Pleistocene gave way to our current geological epoch, a group of hunter-gathers near China's Yangtze River began changing their way of life. They started to grow rice."

Debating the Origins of Rice [University College London Rice Project]
Archaeologists and botanists have long debated the origins of rice. For many archaeologists who focus on East Asia or Southeast Asia, it has long appeared that rice agriculture began in South-central China, somewhere along the Yangzte river, and spread from there southwards and to northeast towards Korea and Japan. However, archaeologists working in India have argued that their evidence suggests an origin of rice cultivation in the Ganges river valley, by peoples unconnected to those of the Yangzte... A recent reassessment suggests that rice grains, especially from Lower Yangzte show a progressive increase in size over time between 6000 B.C. and 3500 B.C., and that this size increase suggests a domestication process.

Domestication of Plants [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey, NationalGeographic.com]
Select the section under "10,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C." on the timeline, then mouse over one of the four orange pushpin-like icons over China to learn about the domestication of plants throughout the world. Site removed at NGS temporarily; check back.

6,000 to 5,000 BCE
Rice Cultivation [The Genographic Project: Atlas of the Human Journey, NationalGeographic.com]
Select the section under "10,000 B.C. to 5,000 B.C." on the timeline, then mouse over one of the four orange pushpin-like icons over China to learn about early rice cultivation. Site removed at NGS temporarily; check back.

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© 2009 Asia for Educators, Columbia University