Longshan culture

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Longshan culture
Longshan only.svg
Geographical range China
Period Neolithic China
Dates c. 3000 – c. 2000 BC
Major sites Taosi, Chengziya
Preceded by Yangshao culture
Followed by Erlitou culture
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 文化
Simplified Chinese 文化
Map of China showing several of the major sites of the Longshan culture (clickable map)

The Longshan (or Lung-shan) culture was a late Neolithic culture in China, centered on the central and lower Yellow River and dated from about 3000 to 2000 BC. The culture is named after the modern town of Longshan (lit. "Dragon Mountain") in the east of the area under the administration of Jinan, Shandong Province, where the first archaeological find (in 1928) and excavation (in 1930 and 1931) of this culture took place at the Chengziya Archaeological Site. It is generally accepted that the Longshan culture is a later development of the Yangshao culture.[1][2][3] Some also mention the Longshan culture to be a successor of the Dawenkou culture.[4]


Black eggshell pottery of the Longshan culture
Jadeware produced during Longshan culture, now collected in Shandong Museum

The distinctive feature of the Longshan culture was the high level of skill in pottery making, including the use of pottery wheels. The Longshan culture was noted for its highly polished black pottery (or egg-shell pottery). This type of thin-walled and polished black pottery has also been discovered in the Yangtze River valley and as far as today's southeastern coast of China.[5] It is a clear indication that neolithic agricultural sub-groups of the greater Longshan Culture had spread out across ancient boundaries of China.[6]

Life during the Longshan culture marked a transition to the establishment of cities, as rammed earth walls and moats began to appear; the site at Taosi is the largest walled Longshan settlement. Rice cultivation was clearly established by that time. Small-scale production of silk by raising and domesticating the silkworm Bombyx mori in early sericulture was also known.[6]

Remains found at archaeological sites suggest that the inhabitants used a method of divination based on interpreting the crack patterns formed in heated cattle bones.[7]

The Neolithic population in China reached its peak during the Longshan culture. Towards the end of the Longshan culture, the population decreased sharply; this was matched by the disappearance of high-quality black pottery found in ritual burials.

Eleven characters found at Dinggong in Shandong, China on a pottery sherd, Longshan culture


The early period of the Longshan culture is considered to be 3000 to 2600 BC, while the late period is 2600 to 2000 BC.[8] A variety of geographic regions of China are involved among the various sub-periods of the Longshan civilisation, particularly for the Late Longshan period.[8] For example the middle reaches of the Jing River and Wei River evince settlement known as the Shaanxi Longshan.[8] The We'i River valley would participate in key historic events in China as the North Silk Road developed in that same area.

Craniofacial/Skeletal analysis[edit]

According to recent research on Neolithic skeletal remains, two Longshan cultures Miaodigou (4000 BC to 3000 BC) and Chengzierqi (3500 BC) located in Henan and Shandong respectively cluster with the Yangshao people of Shaanxi. While the other four Yangshao culture sites the Miaozigou (3490 B.C.), Jiangjialiang (4000-3000 BC) from Inner Mongolia and Hebei cluster as Ancient Northern Chinese while the Liuwan (2590-1990 BC) and Yangshan of Qinghai cluster with Ancient Northwestern Chinese.[9] Another research paper on craniofacial dimensions states that "it may be said that the degree in likeness to Bao Ji is shown strong in Indonesia, moderate in the South China and Tibetan B series and least in the rest, when judging from the values of their intergrouping variations."[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maisel, Charles Keith (1999). Early Civilizations of the Old World: The Formative Histories of Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, India and China. Psychology Press. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-4151-0975-8. 
  2. ^ Karl Moore, David Charles Lewis (2009). The Origins of Globalization. Routledge. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-1359-7008-6. 
  3. ^ Li, Feng (2013). Early China: A Social and Cultural History. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-5218-9552-1. 
  4. ^ Underhill, Anne P. (Feb 28, 2013). A Companion to Chinese Archaeology. John Wiley & Sons. p. 576. ISBN 978-1-4443-3529-3. 
  5. ^ Fairbank, 32.
  6. ^ a b Fairbank, 33.
  7. ^ Longshan culture. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved October 31, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  8. ^ a b c Kwang-chih Chang, "The Formation of Chinese Civilization: An Archaeological Perspective", 2005, Yale University Press, 384 pages ISBN 0-300-09382-9
  9. ^ Yuan, Haibing (10 April 2010). "Comprehensive study of skeletal remains of small/middle size Yinxu tombs". Jilin University: 162–171. 
  10. ^ Yen, Yin. "Report on the skeletal remains from the neolithic site at Bao Ji, Shensi" (PDF). Vertebrata Palasiatica. Retrieved 26 March 2015. 


  • Fairbank, John King and Merle Goldman (1992). China: A New History; Second Enlarged Edition (2006). Cambridge: MA; London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01828-1
  • Liu, Li. The Chinese Neolithic: Trajectories to Early States, ISBN 0-521-81184-8