Culture of Xinglongwa


The Xinglongwa culture, about 8000 years old, was first discovered in the village of Xinglongwa, Baoguotu Township, Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and was named after the economic form of hunting and gathering in addition to farming. The Xinglongwa site is a representative site of the Xinglongwa culture, and is an early and best-preserved Neolithic settlement site in Inner Mongolia and the northeast region, with a total area of 35,000 square meters. The excavated pottery is all sandwich pottery, with deep cylindrical straight-bellied jars and bowls as its typical artifacts, and jade penannular jade, jade axes, jade adzes and other jade artifacts have been unearthed. The site was announced as a national key cultural relics protection unit by the State Council in 1996, and was named as one of the top ten new archaeological discoveries in China during the “Eighth Five-Year Plan” period and one of the top 100 archaeological discoveries in China in the 20th century.



The Xinglongwa culture was named after the excavation of the Xinglongwa site in Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Other sites of similar cultural nature excavated on a large scale in the 20th century include Baiyin Changhan in Linxi County, Keshiketeng Banner, Nantaizi, and the Chahai site in Fuxin County, Liaoning Province, where a total of more than 100 pieces of jade were unearthed from official excavations. The radiocarbon dating of the Xinglongwa culture is 8,200-7,400 years ago, making it the earliest known jade artifact in China and a pioneer in the use of jade in prehistory.

The Neolithic culture of northern China is named after the Xinglongwa site in Aohan Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is mainly located on the south bank of the Xilamulun River in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and in the western part of Liaoning Province. It dates from about 6000~5000 B.C. The inhabitants were mainly engaged in agricultural production. Stone tools are mostly beaten, and the types of stone tools include shoulder hoes, axes, adzes, grinding plates and grinding sticks. The pottery is thicker and heavier, with a lower firing temperature and looser pottery, characterized by embossed latticework and “zigzag” patterns, and more pots and bowls. The dwellings are semi-cavernous square or rectangular buildings, arranged in an orderly manner. The remains of a settlement were found in Xinglongwa, with more than ten rows of houses, each with about 10 seats, with a circular cooking pit inside and a trench for defense around the settlement. One of the earliest jade artifacts in China was found from this culture: a tomb in which the deceased had a fine jade penannular jade in each ear. There were also tombs with two whole pigs buried with them.

The site of Xinglongwa in the southeast of Xinglongwa village in Aohan Banner, Chifeng City, is the earliest type of Neolithic culture found in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the northeast, and is therefore named “Xinglongwa Culture”. It is an ancient cultural site with a history of about 7,250 to 8,000 years ago.


It is located on a gently sloping terrace in the upper reaches of the Downer River, which is flat and has a wide view, plus there is a long flow of spring water nearby, so it is very suitable for ancient people to live. In addition to the remains of the Xinglongwa culture, but also preserved five, six thousand years ago, the Red Mountain culture, about four thousand years ago, the Xiajiadian lower culture of the settlement site and the castle site. The Xinglongwa culture is a rare “settlement” site of primitive society.

Economic situation

In the upper reaches of the Liao River, along the Laohar, Silamuren and Uljimuren rivers, there were clans of the middle Neolithic period living in the 5th and 6th millennia B.C. Among them, there were clans of the Xinglongwa culture, whose main economy was agriculture, and there were also clans whose main economy was gathering and fishing and hunting at the same time.

Xinglongwa site is located at the foot of the Nurulhu Mountain Daling River tributary of the Downer River upstream hillock. Excavation and cleaning of the clan living camp is carefully planned and carefully arranged. The layout of the site is neatly arranged, orderly, are northwest – southeast towards, each room about 50-80 square meters, the largest room up to more than 140 square meters, appears to be taller and more spacious than the same period of the Yellow River Valley clan residence site. Around the camp there are trenches about 2 meters wide and 1 meter deep, which are the boundaries of this clan camp and a defense facility. This was the earliest defense facility for the ancient inhabitants of mainland China.

The tools of production used by the Xinglongwa ancestors were mainly stone tools, mainly beaten stone hoes with shoulders used for digging. This advanced production tool was placed in many house sites, along with stone shovels, stone axes, stone adzes, stone grinding wheels, stone grinding sticks, and pancake shaped stone tools. The scrapers made of stone pieces embedded in the grooves of bone handles are distinctive and are traditional products of the northern fine stone tool craft. There are also more stone knives and fishing and hunting tools used for processing animal skins. Bone tools include cones, darts, needles, etc., all of which are finely ground. On the living surface of the house site, faceted stone grinding plates and grinding sticks were often found, and stone pestles were excavated in some rooms. These cereal processing tools can be used to process crops for shelling and threshing, as well as for processing the collected plant seeds. More antlers, roe deer bones and fruit hard shells of pecan rowan were found in the house site, indicating that the clan camp was widely covered with forests nearby, and the hunting and gathering economy still accounted for a certain proportion. The level of development of the agricultural economy is roughly comparable to that of the Neolithic cultures in the Yellow River Basin.

Archaeological excavations

Three excavations by the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed a total of fifty-seven house sites, all of which are square with rounded corners, with a stove site in the middle of the site and niches and pocket kang for preserving food and fire around and on the living surface. The house sites vary in size from a few dozen square meters for the smallest ones to more than one hundred and forty square meters for the largest ones. According to the experts’ testimony, there is no doorway, and it is possible that holes were made at the top of the house for “access by ladder”. This is an important discovery in the history of ancient architecture in China.

The unearthed relics include a large number of sand-added pottery, stone tools mostly made in the form of hoes, ground stone axes, grinding discs and so on. The bone knives and fishing forks found with inlaid fine stoneware are also very distinctive. In the room, a number of deer heads and walnut kernels were found, indicating that the production methods of the ancestors in this period, in addition to agriculture, also existed fishing, hunting and collecting wild fruits and other production methods. These findings provide a scientific basis for examining the changes in the ancient natural vegetation of eastern Inner Mongolia.

The Xinglongwa culture was discovered by the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Aohan Banner Museum in 1982 during a joint cultural relics census, and was identified as a national cultural relics protection unit by the State Council in 1996, and was included in the top ten archaeological discoveries of the Xinglongwa culture type in China during the 8th Five-Year Plan.

This major archaeological discovery has attracted the attention of experts and scholars in the archaeological and academic fields, and Japanese archaeologists have also joined the excavation of this site. The excavation of this site started in May 2001 and cleared out more than 1,000 house sites and 30 ash pits from the Xinglongwa culture period. It is the best preserved, largest and earliest Neolithic site in China, and has been praised by the archaeological community as “the first village in ancient China”.

The jades of the Xinglongwa culture are all actinolite-tremolite nephrite, mostly light green, yellow-green, dark green, milky white or light white in color, with small bodies. The main types of wares include dagger-shaped wares, curved bar-shaped wares, pipes, axes, adzes and chisels. Jade penannular jade pieces are the most excavated and are one of the most typical jade pieces of Xinglongwa culture, often in pairs around the ear of the tomb owner, which should be the ear ornaments worn by the tomb owner during his lifetime. One type is in the shape of a circle, and the other is in the shape of a short column, with a narrow notch on the side of the body. The number of dagger-shaped wares excavated is second only to jade, which is also one of the typical types of jade wares of the Xinglongwa culture. The body is long, slightly concave on one side and curved on the other, with a small hole drilled in the middle near one end, mostly from the neck, chest or abdomen of the tomb owner, which should be an accessory worn by the tomb owner or a decoration on his clothes. The number of curved bar-shaped ware and jade pipe is relatively small, are worn in the tomb owner’s neck ornaments. Axes, adzes, chisels and other jade tools are distinctive, and their shapes are similar to their stone counterparts, but they are obviously small, mostly well-worn and without traces of use, and their specific functions have yet to be explored in depth.

In southeastern Inner Mongolia, western Liaoning, and northern Hebei, in addition to the Xinglongwa site, the remains of similar nature have been excavated over a large area, including Linxi Baiyin Changhan and Fuxin Chahai site. These three sites represent the Xinglongwa, Chahai, and Baiyin Changhan types of the Xinglongwa culture, respectively.

Cultural Evolution

The Xinglongwa settlement has evolved through three phases: the first phase of the settlement is surrounded by an oval-shaped ditch, and the house sites are distributed in rows along the northwest-east direction, with a large indoor area; the second phase of the settlement inherits the layout of the settlement together, with a slightly smaller room area; the third phase of the settlement has an untidy arrangement of house sites, with a high density and a significantly smaller indoor area. It can be seen that the scale of the Xinglongwa colony was considerable.

The number and location of the Xinglongwa chamber burials suggest that they were related to human ritual activities at that time. From the excavation of a burial: the tomb owner was buried side by side with two male and female pigs in the same cave, it can be seen that the tomb owner was buried indoors due to his status and special cause of death, and the living used the dead as the object of worship and sacrifice in order to obtain some supernatural power or pray for blessing. The human-pig burial shows that ancestor worship and prey worship were already combined, and the sacrifice of the pig spirit by the ancestors of Xinglongwa had the meaning of totem worship. A large number of bones of animals such as deer and pigs were found on the living surface of the housing site and burial goods of Xinglongwa, so it can be determined that hunting economy played an important role in the life of people at that time.

Dozens of pieces of jade were found in the Xinglongwa culture. From the unearthed jade, it can be seen that the ancestors of Xinglongwa had paid attention to the selection of materials, the color was mostly light green, yellow-green, creamy white or light white, and they had mastered the techniques of polishing and drilling. The jade from Xinglongwa is the earliest known authentic jade from China, and it marks the formation of a large division of labor, dating the use of faceted authentic jade in China back to the middle Neolithic period, around 8,000 years ago, and providing a direct source for the jade group of the Hongshan culture.

Significant value

The discovery of the Xinglongwa culture, one of the three major cultural systems in the north, shows that the Neolithic culture of the Inner Mongolia region has its own origins. By solving the problem of the origin of the Hongshan culture, it further reveals the highly characteristic indigenous nature and continuity of the Neolithic culture in the eastern part of the Great Wall belt, and establishes the historical status of the region as parallel to and mutually influencing the Neolithic culture of the Yellow River basin, while giving a strong impetus to the culture of the entire northeast region.

According to Liu Guoxiang, Associate Researcher at the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

First, the Xinglongwa site is the namesake of the Xinglongwa culture and is the best-preserved and earliest dated primitive village in China, which has important academic value for our understanding of the history of primitive society.

Secondly, the Xinglongwa site has unearthed a very peculiar burial custom, which provides a very valuable source for studying the burial customs of ancient man;

Third, the excavation of early Chinese jade and jade penannular jade from the Xinglongwa site has provided us with empirical evidence to explore the origin of Chinese jade culture;

Fourth, the Xinglongwa site has unearthed the most complete mussel skirt costume in China, which is rare in the world during the same period.

Fifth, in 2003, the first team from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Inner Mongolia excavated the site of a large settlement of the middle Xinglongwa culture (8,000 to 7,500 years ago) and found two pig skulls placed relative to each other, and the bodies were placed with pottery, remnants of stone tools and natural stones, representing the image of the pig dragon in the minds of the people at that time, with distinct religious significance, which is the earliest image of the pig-headed dragon that can be confirmed in China.

A multi-faceted analysis of the excavated materials from the Xinglongwa site can confirm the civilization process in this region and the academic position it held in Northeast Asia. It provides historical evidence for the parallel development of the Western Liaohe culture and the Yellow River culture, and for the theory of pluralistic human origins. The discovery of the Xinglongwa site has caused astonishment in the archaeological and academic circles at home and abroad. Experts and scholars from the United States, Japan, Russia, France, Australia, Korea, Britain, Germany, Israel, Hungary, and other countries as well as Taiwan have attached great importance to the Xinglongwa culture and have visited the Xinglongwa site for many times to conduct research. The Xinglongwa culture site was also named one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in China in 1992 and during the 8th Five-Year Plan period, and one of the “100 archaeological discoveries in China in the 20th century”.

It has filled a gap in the archaeological chronology of northern China, established the coordinates of four archaeological cultures, and pushed the Neolithic archaeological culture of this region forward by more than 3,000 years.

The Xinglongwa culture here shows that there were primitive human villages as early as 8,000 years ago; the Zhaobogou culture here shows that there was a transition from slash-and-burn farming to plowing primitive agriculture as early as 7,000 years ago; the many relics of the Hongshan culture found here, such as the Caohatshan cumulus mound and the Niuheliang pottery goddess, show that there were early city-state primitive states as early as 5,000 to 6,000 years ago; and the Xiaoyan culture here shows that there was an early city-state as early as 4,000 years ago. The Xiaoyan culture here shows that there were primitive cultures of the same period that were closely related to the Central Plains and even the Yangtze River basin as early as 4,000 to 5,000 years ago; the Xiajiadian lower culture sites found here, such as Dadianzi and Chengzishan, show that there was a hierarchical social system and Bronze Age civilization as well as the Central Plains as early as 3,000 to 4,000 years ago; the upper Xiajiadian culture sites found here, such as Zhoujiadi Shanwanzi, show that the first people of the region had a more advanced culture as early as 2,000 to 3,000 years ago. The discovery of many Xiajiadian upper culture sites, such as Zhoujiadi Shanwanzi, shows that the ancestors had already mastered mature bronze mining and smelting and casting techniques 2,000 to 3,000 years ago.

Ceramic Stoneware

The pottery excavated from the Xinglongwa site is all sandwich pottery, most of which is loose and heavy, with a low firing temperature and a grayish-brown and yellowish-brown appearance, and a dark gray interior. The exterior decoration of pottery is mainly embossed, and the main decoration is mainly horizontal herringbone pattern, son pattern, mat pattern, grid pattern and so on. All pottery is handmade.

The stone tools from Xinglongwa are mainly hoe shaped tools. Axe-shaped tools are also typical. The kernels of the hooded rowan were excavated from an earlier site at Xinglongwa, which is a tree that makes up a deciduous broad-leaved forest and a mixed coniferous forest, and should be a temperate forest, reflecting the warm and humid climate at that time, which is very different from the dry steppe desert environment.

Dry farming

Archaeology confirms that Aohan is an important heritage site for the origin of dry farming. The charred corn and millet from the flotation of the Xinglongwa Culture Xinglonggou site were dated by three different carbon 14 laboratories at home and abroad, confirming that the date of the corn excavated from Xinglonggou is about 7650 years ago, which is one of the earliest physical remains of millet found in the world, and the only earliest millet remains that have been accurately dated. A research group led by Martin Jones, a professor at the University of Cambridge, found that millet in Europe would have spread from Southeast Asia through the Eurasian steppe route, and given the location of the Xinglonggou site, it is possible that it was the starting point for the spread of millet to Europe.

Li Yiyin, an associate professor at the School of Urban and Environmental Studies at Peking University, had plant pollen extracted from the sediment at the Wangxianggou site in Aohan, under the optical microscope and scanning electron microscope, which was compared with buckwheat pollen, showing that the two structures are basically the same. Experts both at home and abroad believe that the two are the same pollen. But the buckwheat seeds found in archaeological deposits about 2,500 years ago, then 5400 years ago, whether the ancestors of this region has been planted buckwheat, further evidence is needed.

Liu Guoxiang and other colleagues in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Archaeology to promote, in August 2012, Aohan Banner dry farming system by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as “globally important agricultural cultural heritage”; in May 2013, “Aohan millet” was approved by the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine as a protected geographical indication products.

Cultural Remains

The Xinglongwa site has a small settlement of Xiajiadian Lower Culture with a total area of about 10,000 square meters, dating from about 4,000 to 3,500 years ago. 2003 excavation area is located in the middle of the settlement, with an uncovered area of 250 square meters, and one house site, 18 ash pits, and a section of a perimeter ditch were cleared. A large number of pottery shards, stone tools and bone tools were excavated. The house site is rectangular in plan, with a semi-cavernous building, and a complete fire wall and a stone fire door were found on the wall of the cave immediately to the northeast, which is the first time to be found in the Xiajiadian Lower Culture. During the Xiajiadian Lower Culture Period, the West Liaohe River Basin entered the early state stage, and there were obvious defense functions from large city sites to small villages. More than 20 well-worn bone arrowheads were found in the gray layer of the perimeter trench at the third site, which further proves that social warfare was frequent during the Xiajiadian Lower Culture Period.

Red Mountain Culture Remains

The Xinglongwa site has a rectangular trench with a total area of about 20,000 square meters of late Red Mountain culture settlement, about 5,500-5,000 years ago, which is comparable to the central ritual site of Red Mountain culture in Niuheliang, Liaoning. 8 house sites and more than 50 ash pits were excavated in 2001 and 2003, and more relics were excavated. This is the first time in China to discover and excavate rectangular ring trench settlements of the late Red Mountain culture, filling the research gap of the late Red Mountain culture settlement data. From the unearthed relics, the first discovery of the Red Mountain culture pottery; the first discovery of the Red Mountain culture engraved symbols; the first discovery of the Red Mountain culture three people embracing the pottery sculpture; No. 17 gray pit found more than 290 ark shells, about 1/3 have holes, which is so far known Red Mountain culture sites in the excavation of the largest number of sea shellfish a site.

Excavated artifacts

Inner Mongolia region

1982 cultural relics census found Aohan Banner Xinglongwa site, because the Xinglongwa culture. After 7 archaeological excavations from 1983 to 1994, 2 pieces of the world’s earliest white jade penannular jade were unearthed, 8,200 years old, the jade was amphibole jade, the jade material came from Xiuyan County, Liaoning Province, the source method is still unclear. 1982 cultural relics census found Aohan Banner Xinglonggou site (located in Xinglonggou Village, Baoguo Tu Township), 2 pieces of penannular jade were unearthed in the No. 4 dwelling tomb, 1 pair of In 1976, a dagger-shaped jade ornament was unearthed in Wangxinggou, Dadianzi Township, Aohan Banner, with a length of 6.5 cm and a width of 1.2 cm at the lower end; the jade was yellowish white material of amphibole jade, which originated from Xiuyan County, Liaoning Province, and the mode of origin was unclear. 1986, a jade penannular jade was unearthed in Shuiquan, Wangjiayingzi Township, Aohan Banner, with a diameter of 3.6 cm and a flesh width of 2.6 cm. In 2001, an adze with a residual length of 3.3, a top width of 2.4, and a blade width of 2.8 cm was collected from the Xinglonggou site in Aohan Banner.3 The jade is a dark green material of amphibole jade, which originated from Xiuyan County, Liaoning Province, and the mode of origin is not yet clear.

Liaoning Province area

The jade from the Xinglongwa culture was excavated mainly at the Chahai culture site in Fuxin, Liaoning province, about 8,200 years ago, and more than 50 pieces of jade were unearthed from seven excavations between 1986 and 1995, mainly of amphibole jade, sourced from Xiuyan county, Liaoning province. The Xinle culture site in Shenyang, 7,000 years ago, unearthed 4 carvings, 14 pointed pieces, 10 arrowheads, 29 bubble-shaped ornaments, 8 ear danglers, and 20 beads. In addition to amphibole jade, there are chalcedony, agate, and a large number of coal concentrate products. The amphibole jade comes from Xiuyan County, while the chalcedony and agate should come from the Fuxin area in western Liaoning, which produces agate in abundance, and the coal concentrate should come from the Fushun area. In addition, nine chisels and a large number of talc ornaments were excavated from the lower layers of the Donggou Houwa site in Liaoning Province, one axe was excavated from the lower layers of Changhai Xiaozushan, and three chisels were excavated from the Beiwutun site in Zhuanghe, etc. The jade was mainly amphibole jade, and the jade material came from Xiuyan County, and the talc should have come from Xiuyan County, which produced talc, but the exact mode of origin is not known.

Jilin Province area

The jade from the Xinglongwa culture was excavated at the Jubao Mountain site in Zhenlai County, Jilin Province, about 7,500 years ago, with eight beads, five axes, two rings, one bi, one adze, and one dagger. The site of Aobao Mountain in Tongyu County, 1 piece of beads was unearthed. The site of Zhangjiantuozi in Tongyu County, 1 piece of ornament was excavated. The site of Beigangzi, Tongyu County, 2 pieces of beads were excavated.5 The jade quality is not yet identified, and the source of jade cannot be determined.

Heilongjiang Province

Xinglongwa culture jade is mainly excavated at the site of Xinkailiu culture in Mishan County, Heilongjiang, 7,500 years ago, jade excavated to be investigated. The Xiaonanshan site in Raohe County, which belongs to the middle and late stages of the Xinglongwa culture, is earlier than the Xinkailiu culture. 81 pieces of long dagger-shaped wares, ring-shaped penannular jade pieces, axes, spinning wheels, rings, beads, pipes, curved bar-shaped ornaments, and duplexes have been excavated, and there is no identification data on jade quality, and the source of jade material cannot be judged.


Xinglongwa culture is an early Neolithic culture in Inner Mongolia, which is the same period of culture as Laoguantai, Dadiwan, Pei Ligang and Jieshan cultures in the Yellow River basin. The Xinglongwa culture has a wide distribution, from Xunhe River in the west, to the Medical Lushan Mountains in the east, to the Uljimurun River in the north, and to the north coast of the Bohai Sea in the south.

Xinglongwa culture of the distribution of sites throughout the Aohan Banner north and south, currently has found more than fifty, in Chifeng City, Barin Right Banner, Wengniut Banner, Tongliao Naiman Banner and other places, also found the same cultural remains. This shows that the ancient civilization in the Laoha River and Xilamushi River basin was developed at the same stage as the Central Plains, and that it has its own characteristics in terms of cultural landscape.

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