Longshan Culture


The Longshan Culture refers to a group of cultural remains from the Middle and Lower Yellow River region of China that date back to the Late Neolithic period and belong to the Copper and Stone Age culture.

The Longshan Culture was first discovered in Longshan Town, Licheng County, Jinan City, Shandong Province (now part of Zhangqiu District, Jinan City), hence its name. The culture is radiocarbon dated from 2500 to 2000 B.C. (4,000 years ago). It was distributed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River in Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces.

In the spring of 1928, archaeologist Wu Jinding discovered the world-famous Chengziya site in Longshan Town, Licheng County, Jinan City, Shandong Province.

Since then, archaeologists have conducted several excavations at the Chengziya site and have obtained a number of cultural remains with beautifully polished black pottery as a distinctive feature. Based on these findings, archaeologists named these cultural remains with black pottery as the main feature as “Longshan Culture”.

Archaeologists believe that the Huaxia people (the predecessor of the Han people) were bred on the basis of the Yangshao and Longshan cultures.


In the spring of 1928, archaeologist Wu Jinding discovered the world-famous site of Chengziya in Longshan Town, Licheng County, Jinan City, Shandong Province (now Longshan Street Office, Zhangqiu City, Jinan, Shandong Province). He unearthed thin-skinned and lustrous black pottery shards that coexisted with stone and bone tools on the western fault of the Chengziya terrace.

This attracted great attention from the archaeologists of the Institute of History and Language of the Academia Sinica at that time. Mr. Li Ji, who is known as “the founder of Chinese archaeology”, was the first Chinese doctor of anthropology and archaeology, and it was he who conducted the first large-scale excavation of the Chengziya site in 1930.

In 1931, at the Hougang site in Anyang, Henan Province, Liang Siyong discovered for the first time a “triple layer” of cultural remains from Xiaotun (Shang Dynasty), Longshan, and Yangshao that were stacked sequentially above and below each other, clarifying the relative chronological relationship between the three.

In the 1930s, the sites attributed to Longshanization not only included those in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River, but also included the Hangzhou Bay area, which was then divided into three zones according to regional differences: coastal Shandong, northern Henan, and Hangzhou Bay. It was also proposed that the Longshan culture was one of the prehistoric periods of Chinese civilization, and that the Longshan culture of Hougan was a direct precursor of the Shang culture.


Pottery of Longshan culture

Distribution area

Most of the Longshan culture sites, are located in Shandong Peninsula, while similar sites have been found in Henan, Shaanxi, Hebei, Liaodong Peninsula, Jiangsu, and other areas.

This culture is characterized by many thin, hard, glossy and black potteries, especially the eggshell black pottery (distributed in Rizhao and Jinan), so it is also called “black pottery culture”.

Chinese archaeologists have given the culture names as a distinction according to the different cultural aspects of several regions. The general division is as follows

Shandong Longshan culture or typical Longshan culture, that is, the kind of remains initially named by the town of Longshan, its distribution is mainly in Shandong, the upper inheritance of the Dawenkou culture, the next sequel to the Yue Shi culture, radiocarbon dating and corrected, dating from 2500 BC to 2000 BC.

Miaodigou II culture: mainly distributed in the west of Henan and also in the east of Henan, developed from Yangshao culture, belongs to the early stage of Longshan culture in Central Plains, radiocarbon dating and corrected, dated from 2900 to 2800 B.C.

Henan Longshan culture: mainly distributed in the west, north and east of Henan, inherited from the Miaodigou II culture or the remains of this period, and developed into the bronze culture of the early stage of Chinese civilization in the Central Plains, radiocarbon dated and corrected from 2600 to 2000 B.C. It is also generally divided into three types: Wangwan III, Hougang II and Zuolutai.

Shaanxi Longshan Culture (Keshan Zhuang Phase II Culture): mainly distributed in the Jing and Wei River basins of Shaanxi Province, radiocarbon dated and corrected to 2300 B.C. to 2000 B.C.

The pottery temple type of Longshan culture is represented by the newly discovered pottery temple site in Xianfen, Shanxi Province, mainly distributed in the southwestern region of Jin, and radiocarbon dated and corrected to 2500 B.C. to 1900 B.C.

Cultural characteristics

Since the discovery of the Longshan culture sites, archaeologists have discovered cultural remains of this period in Shandong, Henan and Shaanxi respectively. However, because of their different cultural aspects, they are also named as Henan Longshan Culture, Shaanxi Longshan Culture, Hubei Shijiahe Culture, and Shanxi Taosi Type Longshan Culture, which are commonly called Longshan Period Culture. The most remarkable feature of this period culture is the discovery of city sites.

The site of Two Towns, located in Two Towns, Donggang District, is the first typical site of Longshan culture, with a total area of 1.12 million square meters, discovered in 1934 and excavated in 1936. It is a provincial key cultural relic protection unit.

According to Oxford University’s “World History in a Nutshell”, “The two towns in 2800 BC-2000 BC were the earliest cities in Asia.” More than 400 sites of the Longshan culture and the Zhou and Han periods were discovered, and more than 3,000 specimens of various cultural relics were unearthed. The unearthed pottery is mainly black pottery, and the eggshell pottery with thin and firm tires is of the highest level, with beautiful shapes and additional pile patterns. Later excavated Liangzhu ancient city, Taoji ancient city, Baodun ancient city, Shijiahe ancient city beyond.

The Black Placement Site is located in the northwest corner of Wanglou Village, Longgang Township, Yongcheng City, and is recognized as a site of Longshan, Shang, and Western Zhou cultures. Black place name site area of about 10,000 square meters, from the excavation, “the site pile is thick, the cultural connotation is simple, the excavated relics are rich”.

The excavated artifacts include stone tools, pottery, bone and mussel tools, and horn tools. The Chinese Longshan culture also originated here. There are also sites such as Wang Oil Place and Law Making Terrace standing in this area. In 2013, it was already a provincial cultural relics protection unit in Henan Province.


Pottery of Longshan Culture


Taosi Site

The Taosi site is a site of the Taosi type of the Longshan culture in the middle reaches of the Yellow River in China, and also includes the second phase of the Miaodigou culture and a small amount of remains from the Warring States, Han Dynasty and Jin and Yuan periods. It is located in the south of Taosi Village, Xiangfen County, Shanxi Province, about 2000 meters from east to west and 1500 meters from north to south, with a total area of 2.8 million square meters. It is one of the largest of the Longshan culture sites in the Central Plains.

Yao Wang Cheng Ruins

Located in Rizhao City, Shandong Province, the Yao Wangcheng site was the capital city of the Dawenkou and Longshan cultures. The underground archaeology shows that the capital city was larger than the two cities’ sites and was the largest capital city in Asia at that time. The site was discovered in 1934, and in 1977 the provincial government announced it as the first batch of key cultural relics protection units, and in May 2006, the State Council approved the announcement as a national key cultural relics protection unit.

The announced area is about 520,000 square meters, and the joint Sino-American archaeological team concluded after investigation that the site is larger than the area of the two towns, and should be the largest capital city in Asia at that time.

Vine Flower Fall Site

This is the first prehistoric city site with double inner and outer wall structure found in China so far, the first city site of the Longshan culture period found in Jiangsu Province, and the most complete and suitable large site for the archaeology of settlement form among more than 50 Longshan culture city sites found in China, which is of great value to the study of the origin of civilization.

The site is located in Zhongyun Township of Lianyungang Economic and Technological Development Zone, covering an area of 150,000 square meters. More than 200 relics such as rammed earth pedestals, foundation pits, ash pits, ash ditches, roads, ditches, rice fields, stone ports, etc. have been found at the site of Vine Flower Fall, and more than 2,000 specimens of stone tools, pottery, jade, charred rice, wooden stakes and various kinds of animals and plants have been excavated.

Ding Placement Site

The site of Longshan culture in Ding place is about 4,500 square meters in area, and in 1978, Zhi Hongyuan from the Institute of Archaeology of Luoyang, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences led a cultural relics expedition to explore and investigate here. After exploration, the cultural layer was divided into three layers and the site was well preserved.

In 1981 its was designated as a county-level cultural relics protection unit by the Central Institute of Archaeology, and in July 2002 it was upgraded to a key municipal-level cultural relics protection unit. From the large number of pottery shards and artifacts excavated by archaeologists at the site, it can be seen that there are more gray pottery, and the fetal quality is fine and the firing fire is high; there are relatively few red pottery, the fetal quality is loose and the firing fire is low.

Gray pottery to take the wheel system method, smooth surface, and decorated with rope, string pattern, etc.; red pottery is handmade, rougher surface, plain surface. However, whether it is gray pottery or red pottery, the objects are flat bottomed, and no ring foot or bag foot ware is found. Because its main features have the nature of Longshan culture, so it can be considered early Longshan culture, according to the classification of the second phase of the Miaodigou culture.

Qingdao Chengyang Site

The site is located on a high plateau one hundred meters northeast of Chengzi Village, Chengyang Town, Chengyang District, 200 meters long from east to west and 100 meters wide from north to south. The west and north sides are cliffs, about 2.5 meters high. There is a gray-brown cultural layer about one meter thick, which is intermittently exposed on the surface and contains relatively rich cultural relics.

The cultural relics collected include: single-hole flat axe, rectangular flat stone shovel, half-moon shaped double-hole stone knife, rectangular sharpened stone with hole, stone bowl, stone chisel, stone sickle and stone spear. The stone tools are all polished, with sharp edges and exquisite production. The pottery is mainly gray and black pottery. According to the archaeologists, this is a cultural site of the Longshan culture type, which has a history of more than 4,000 years ago and provides an important reference for the study of the primitive culture in Qingdao.

In 2005, archaeologists discovered a large city site of the Longshan Culture period, more than 600 years older than Yinxu, on the western edge of the Yinxu site in Anyang, Henan Province.

The archaeologists discovered more than 140 meters of walls, one house foundation and one pottery kiln, two pebble-paved ground patterns, and excavated stone axes, mussel scythes, bone hairpins, and a large number of fragments of pottery ding, jars, lizards, and bowls from the Longshan Culture period. In particular, the two pebble-paved ground patterns found in the foundation of the house are the only ones seen in the archaeology of Longshan culture until 2013, one of which covers an area of about 10 square meters and looks like a tiger from the appearance, which experts believe is related to the totem worship or sacrifice of people at that time.

The site of Longshan Culture City in Jinyanggang

In 1973, Wu Rujo of the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences first discovered the site of Jinyanggang west of the village of Jinyanggang. 1979, cultural relics workers in Liaocheng area conducted a trial excavation of the site. The site was listed as a provincial key cultural relics protection unit by the People’s Government of Shandong Province in December 1977, and was awarded the first nomination of “China’s Top Ten New Archaeological Discoveries” in 1995, and was approved as a national key cultural relics protection unit by the State Council in June 2001.

The average width of the wall found at the Long Shan Cultural Site in Chiping’s Kaochangpu is 28 meters, with the widest point reaching 30 meters, and the preserved height is close to 2 meters, which was rammed in blocks with a mixture of yellow sand and clay. According to the drilling results, the walls are roughly close to circular, slightly longer from east to west, with an area of about 50,000 square meters.

At the same time, foundation pits and sacrificial pits for holding foundation laying ceremonies were found on the walls, and the phenomenon of human sacrifice appeared. It belongs to the middle and late Longshan culture, between 4600 and 4000 years ago. Since 2000, four excavations have been conducted jointly by the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Shandong Province and the Liaocheng Cultural Relics Bureau. The three pottery kilns excavated in 2001 are the most complete group of the Longshan culture found in Shandong.

The history of Jiaonan is known as “the famous place of the Eastern Kingdom” and has a splendid culture. As of 1987, 19 Longshan culture sites have been found in the territory: Xiangyang of Baoshan Township, Dazhangba, Guojiaheyan of Yinzhu Township, Wangjiaheyan, Xiaoyao of Jiaonan Township, Hetou of Zhangjialou Township, Jijiadianzi, Shangtong, East Soap Household of Langya Township, Yingqian, Ying Hou, Gaogozhuang of Zhanan Township, Yashang, Xisi of Tashan Township, Humping Gou, Zhangjiadazhuang, Jinggezhuang, Jawangdun of Haiqing Township, Xichaogou of Shimei Township; black pottery is the symbol of Chinese civilization. The symbol of ancient civilization, in Jiaonan has a history of more than 4,500 years, the ground of these sites exposed a large number of pottery pieces, mussel pieces, human bones, had unearthed stone axes, stone shovels, stone knives, stone arrowheads, ceramic jars, ceramic cups, jade rings, clay hollowed out high-footed cups and eggshell pottery cup remnants.

Shang County Site in Hebei

On July 13, 2014, archaeologists recently discovered an ancient burial from the Longshan Culture period 4,000 years ago at Sidaimungu Ying in Shijing Township, Shangyi County, Hebei Province, and excavated the remains of one. Among the burial objects were 21 pieces of sandwiched black pottery, a stone axe, a stone shovel, two stone grinding wheels and neck wear accessories. Archaeologists identified this site as a 4,000-year-old Neolithic Longshan culture site.

According to Liu Wenqing, deputy director of the Zhangjiakou Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the burials unearthed sandwiched black pottery, polished stone tools, bone tools and other burial objects, which are important for the study of the Longshan culture and burial customs of the time.


Pottery of Longshan Culture

Artifact relics

In addition to pottery, the Longshan culture had a large number of stone tools, bone tools and mussel tools. They were mainly engaged in agriculture but also hunting, fishing and livestock breeding. There was already the habit of bone divination. And may have appeared bronze. Historically, the cultural origins of Xia, Shang and Zhou are all connected with Longshan culture.

Pottery of Longshan culture

The pottery of the early Longshan culture in the Central Plains is mainly gray, mostly hand-made, and the mouth rim is generally trimmed by a slow wheel, and some objects such as jars also use the body and the bottom of the vessel are made separately and then joined by the “joint bottom method” molding new technology. The firing temperature of gray pottery is about 840℃. Early Longshan culture pottery cups, open-mouth basin, folded rim basin, convergence jar, pointed bottom jar shape also retained, inherited some elements of Yangshao culture, and double-eared basin, three-ear basin, deep-bellied basin, tube jar.

The decoration of pottery in this period is mainly basket pattern, and some pottery is decorated with several or even several additional pile patterns on top of the basket pattern, mainly for the reason of reinforcing the body; the pottery of the late Longshan culture is mainly gray pottery, red pottery has occupied a certain proportion, and the number of black pottery has increased.

The firing temperature of both gray and red pottery reaches 1000℃. Still mainly by hand, but the wheel system technical innovation has been further developed, part of the pottery has been used to mold molding. The main shapes are cups, plates, bowls, pots, jars, pots, cauldrons, lids, bases and the newly emerged li, etc. The most common decoration is rope pattern and basket pattern, and a small amount of chevron pattern is also seen.

Four major characteristics

The pottery of the Longshan culture in Shandong has made great progress in the production method, and generally uses the wheel system technology. Therefore, the shape of the ware is quite regular, the wall thickness is very uniform, production and quality have been greatly improved, Shandong Longshan culture pottery to black pottery, gray pottery is not much, and a small amount of red pottery, yellow pottery and white pottery.

Black pottery firing temperature of 1000 ℃, red pottery 950 ℃, white pottery 800 – 900 ℃. Black pottery has three kinds of fine clay, mud and sand. Fine clay black shiny, scholars called “eggshell black pottery”. Eggshell black pottery is the most representative pottery of Longshan culture in Shandong, reflecting the level of the highly developed pottery industry at that time. The most plain or polished ones have fewer decorations, mainly string patterns, scratch patterns and open holes.

The main shapes are bowls, pots, jars, urns, beans, single-ear cups, high-handled cups, tripods, and so on. There are also li. The ghost-faced tripod legs and circular tripod feet of the Longshan culture in Shandong are the most characteristic, and are rare in other cultures.

Black pottery is a black pottery with thin tires, tight bones and shiny black lacquer. It is the most beautifully made pottery in Longshan culture. Black pottery in the firing of the sealed kiln smoke percolation method, the surface of the ware shows a deep black luster. It has a polished surface, plain and unadorned, with only a few strings, scratches or open holes in the decoration. Black, thin, light, new for the four characteristics of black pottery. There is a kind of thin black pottery, black and shiny, thin as eggshell, called eggshell pottery, representing the outstanding achievement of looking at this type of pottery.

Before Chengziya, most of the ancient pottery excavated in China was colored pottery and red pottery with extremely high sand content, while black pottery made of river mud can be said to be a unique creation of the Dongyi people more than 4,000 years ago. The black pottery artwork eggshell cup unearthed in Chengziya is only 0.5 mm thick and weighs only about 50 grams, which is the best of black pottery. Not to mention the ancient people more than 4,000 years ago, it is very difficult to fire such a color of pottery today.

Jade of Longshan culture

The level of jade production in the Longshan Culture period was greatly improved. From the excavated jade of the Longshan Culture, there is a rich variety of jade, and most of them are exquisitely cut, beautifully shaped, crystalline and rounded, with a high artistic level. Most of the jade materials used in Longshan culture jade are tremolite, including white jade, green jade, green jade, yellow jade, ink jade, chalcedony, and turquoise. The jade of the Longshan culture should be locally sourced. The jade production sites are Haiyang (ink jade) in Shandong; Baimashan and Mengjin in Luoyang, Henan Province; and Shenmuhe Yan’an in Shaanxi Province.

The jade objects of the Longshan culture are mainly geometric and figure-animal shaped. The guilloche is ring-shaped, with three teeth on the outer edge, pioneering the guilloche of the Shang and Zhou periods. The human head-shaped ornaments are divided into two types: frontal and side view. The former is wearing a crown (flat crown or feather crown), large eyes, large nose, ear ornaments ring, wide mouth, or mouth out of the fangs, showing teeth; the latter image is simple.

The jade kyu are all flat-headed, and are often decorated with human, animal, or bird motifs. Jade Go is characterized by a long aid square inside without a central ridge, with a more primitive shape. The jade jade jade is divided into flat-headed style and divergent-headed style.

The ornaments of jade of Longshan culture are divided into two types: one is the type that is integrated with the object; the other is the type that is decorated with the object. There are linear patterns, grid patterns, tiger head patterns, animal face patterns, human face patterns, and bird patterns. The jade of Longshan culture is mainly carved in pieces, supplemented by openwork carving.

There are two kinds of line patterns of decoration, Yang line carving and Yin line carving, and the application of Yang line carving is the majority. The example of inlay craft is seen in the jade battle-axe produced at Wulian Dantu site in Shandong, in which turquoise is embedded in the hole of the upper part. The combination process of jade and turquoise, this is only seen. This process method is the precedent of jade inlay process in Xia Dynasty and Shang Dynasty.

Bone inscriptions of Longshan culture

The layout and structure of Changle bone inscriptions are regular, with some partials appearing several times, and are similar to those of the Yinxu oracle bone in the Longshan culture, which dates back 4,000 to 5,000 years. The “neatly arranged” pattern symbols carved on the animal oracle bones are more primitive than those of the Yinxu oracle bone inscriptions, and are clearly in a state of transition between painting (symbols) and writing.

The bone inscriptions and the oracle bone inscriptions should have some kind of inherited relationship, which is a new basis for explaining the origin of Chinese characters. These symbols are all shaded line carvings, with twisting and turning strokes and slender carvings, mostly curved and curved strokes, showing crab-like, grass-worm-like and bird-like forms. More than 100 pieces of oracle bones and two jade fragments with writing symbols were collected, with a total of more than 600 pictorial characters. Some of these characters were carved on the surface of the bone fragments, some were carved inside the bone cavity, and some were carved on the head of the bone socket.

From 2004 to 2007, Xiao Guangde collected more than 100 pieces of animal bones with patterns at the Longshan culture sites such as Yuanjiazhuang in Changle County. During the period, he went to Weifang, Beijing and other places to find experts for identification, but most experts believe that these patterns are traces of corrosion or insects, or carved on by later generations.

In July 2007, Xiao Guangde brought the seven animal bones to Professor Liu Fengjun, director of the Institute of Fine Arts and Archaeology at Shandong University. With many years of professional research and identification experience, Liu Fengjun realized that this batch of materials was extremely important.

Cultural Conservation

The excavation of the Longshan Culture, one of the ancient cultures developed in the lower reaches of the Yellow River in direct succession to the Dawenkou Culture, has played an important role in the study of the Neolithic culture of China, and was declared a National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in 1961.

Modern Research

In May 2007, an article published in the authoritative American academic journal HUMAN GENETIC further researched the Longshan culture.

Through the study of ancient human bone DNA from the Taoji culture in Shanxi (4500 years ago), by 2013 it was already certain that the inhabitants of the Longshan culture, whose Y chromosome NP haplotype was O3-M122 and contained only O3 and subtype O3e, and no other types, were identical to the main part of the modern Han Chinese, which means that the main part of the Han Chinese by 2014 whose paternal distant ancestors were completely from the ancient Central Plains people, that is, the Longshan people.

Looking at O3 alone, at least 60%-70% of Han Chinese everywhere come from the Longshan culture, comparing the data from the article “evolution and migration history of chinese population inferred from chinese Y-chromosome evidence” from 2004. It is certain that the main body of the Han Chinese throughout China, from the northeast to Guangdong, from the Hakka in the southeast to Lanzhou in the northwest, is no different from the ancient Central Plains people of 5000 years, and that the Han Chinese of today are the direct descendants of the ancient Central Plains people, and that the patrilineal O3 in the Han Chinese have been occupying the absolute main position for 5000 years.

The Longshan culture, especially the black pottery with beautiful rose patterns from the Miaodigou site, is considered to be related to the “Hua-Flower” tribe, and the worship of light is a characteristic of this tribe, which is considered to be the ancestral source of the ancient Chinese. By the end of 2013, in various Sino-Tibetan branches, the general “hu,” “gu,” “hua,” “gua “”hao” and other root words have the meaning of light, such as gua in Miao, hu in She, hao (Hao, Hao) in Chinese, and gu in Tibetan, all have the meaning of light and light, and the Longshan culture, which is considered to be the culture of the ancestral Huaxia tribe of the Han Chinese, and the confirmation of the Taosi site confirmation, also supports this claim. As China becomes more influential, the Longshan culture will also attract more enthusiasts and push related research to new heights.

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