Longshan culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Longshan culture 龍山文化
Geographical range North China Plain
Period late Neolithic
Dates c. 3000–2000 BC
Major sites Taosi
Preceded by Yangshao culture
Followed by Erlitou culture

The Longshan culture (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Lóngshān wénhuà), sometimes encountered as Lung-shan after its previous romanization, was a late Neolithic culture in China, centered on the central and lower Yellow River and dated from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC. The Longshan culture is named after the town of Longshan (lit. "Dragon Mountain") in the east of the area under the administration of the city 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. Early studies indicated that the Longshan and Yangshao cultures were one and the same. It was once widely accepted that the Longshan culture is in fact a later development of the Yangshao culture.[1] However, the Yangshao culture is not ancestral or related to the Longshan culture (at least on the male side) because the Yangshao had a high frequency of N y-dna,common in North Siberia, and in Far north East Europe among Finno-Ugrians, while the Longshan had a high frequency of O3 y-dna common in the modern Chinese, and other Sinnic peoples.[2]



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.[3] It is a clear indication that neolithic agricultural sub-groups of the greater Longshan Culture had spread out across ancient boundaries of China.[4]

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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6] A variety of geographic regions of China are involved among the various sub-periods of the Longshan civilisation, particularly for the Late Longshan period.[6] For example the middle reaches of the Jing River and Wei River evince settlement known as the Shaanxi Longshan.[6] The We'i River valley would participate in key historic events in China as the North Silk Road developed in that same area.

See also[edit]



  • 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