Damaidi (simplified Chinese: 大麦地; traditional Chinese: 大麥地; pinyin: Dàmàidì; literally: Big wheat field), is the location of 3,172 sets of early Chinese petroglyphs, carved into the cliffs which feature 8,453 individual figures. These are believed to represent possibly the earliest writing system known in China.
Damaidi itself is a small village located in Zhongwei County, a subdivision of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in Central China, set amid the Weining Mountains on the north bend of the Yellow River.
The carvings at Damaidi, which date back 7,000-8,000 years, feature environmental as well as social themes. There are carvings of the sun and moon along with other celestial bodies as well as of people hunting, herding and fighting. Archaeologists believe that some of these symbols (over 1,500) bear a resemblance to ancient hieroglyphs of Chinese characters. If dating estimates of the carvings are correct, this would push back the origins of Chinese writing (previously dated only as far back as the Jiaguwen Oracle Bone inscriptions found at Anyang) from 1200 BC to 6600 BC-6200 BC.
- "Carvings may rewrite history of Chinese characters". Xinhua. 18 May 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2010.
- "Chinese writing '8,000 years old'". BBC News. 18 May 2007. Retrieved July 2010.
- Cliff Carvings May Rewrite History of Chinese Characters – another copy of the Xinhua article, with images.