Skull on display on Xi'an Banpo Museum. Banpo, Shaanxi.
Banpo (Chinese: 半坡; pinyin: Bànpō) is an archaeological site discovered in 1953 and located in the Yellow River Valley just east of Xi'an, China. It contains the remains of several well organized Neolithic settlements dating from 5600 - 6700 BP according to radiocarbon dating. The area of 5-6 hectares is surrounded by a ditch, probably a defensive moat, five or six metres wide. The houses were circular, built of mud and wood with overhanging thatched roofs. They sat on low foundations. There appear to be communal burial areas.
Banpo is the type site associated with Yangshao Culture. Archaeological sites with similarities to the first phase at Banpo are considered to be part of the “ Banpo phase” (7th millennium BCE) of the Yangshao culture. Banpo was excavated from 1954 to 1957 and covers an area of around 5 hectares (12 acres).
The settlement was surrounded by a moat, with the graves and pottery kilns located outside of the moat perimeter. Many of the houses were semisubterranean with the floor typically 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) below the ground surface. The houses were supported by timber poles and had steeply pitched thatched roofs.
According to the Marxist paradigm of archaeology that was prevalent in the People's Republic of China during the time of the excavation of the site, Banpo was considered to be a matriarchal society; however, new research contradicts this claim, and the Marxist paradigm is gradually being phased out in modern Chinese archaeological research. Currently, little can be said of the religious or political structure from these ruins from the archeological evidence.
The site is now home to the Xi'an Banpo Museum, built in 1957 to preserve the archaeological collection.
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