Majiayao culture

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Map of neolithic China, showing the location of Majiayao culture (top left)

The Majiayao culture (simplified Chinese: 马家窑文化; traditional Chinese: 馬家窰文化; pinyin: Mǎjiāyáo Wénhuà) is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in the upper Yellow River region in eastern Gansu, eastern Qinghai and northern Sichuan,[1] China. The archaeological site was first found by Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson in 1924. It was located near a village called Majiacun and named Majiayao culture. The culture existed from 3100 to 2700 BC. The earliest discoveries of copper and bronze objects in China occur at Majiayao sites.[citation needed] It proved that China entered Bronze age during Majiayao culture. The Majiayao culture represents the first time that Upper Yellow River region was widely occupied by agricultural communities and it famous for its painting pottery which regarded as peak of pottery manufacturing at that time.

Many believed that Majiayao was a branch of Yangshao Culture and it derived from immigrant farmers of Yangshao in farther east and mixed with local indigenous foragers.[2] However, Xia Nai, the founder of modern archaeology in People's Republic of China, believes that there are lots of differences between Yangshao Culture and Majiayao Culture and he thought Majiayao site is one of the delegate of new culture in Gansu.

Scholars come to a conclusion that the development of Majiayao culture was highly related to climate changes. A group of scholars from Lanzhou University have researched climate changes during Majiayao culture and the results indicates that the climate was wet during 5830-4900 BP, which promoted the development of early and middle Majiayao culture in eastern Qinghai Province. However, during 4900-4700 BP, the climates were drought in this area, which maybe responsible for the decline and eastward movement of prehistoric culture during the period of transition from early-mid to late Majiayao culture.[3]

Majiayao Culture's most representative artifacts is painting pottery, compared with Yangshao pottery, it use pure black color during early Majiayao Culture and mixed black and red painting on potteries until late Majiayao Culture. And the manufacturing of painting pottery means there were professional craftsman to produce lots of pottery which also represents that formation of social division of labor.

Painted pottery jar from the Majiayao culture, c 3100-2700 B.C. On display at the Shanghai Museum.
Painted pottery jar from the Majiayao culture

The transition from Yangshao to Majiayao coincides, climatically, with the Piora Oscillation.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Majiayao culture
  2. ^ Hung, Lingyu. "Pottery Production, Mortuary Practice, and Social Complexity in the Majiayao Culture, NW China". Washington University in St. Louis. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "Climate Change; Researchers from Lanzhou University Describe Findings in Climate Change". The Business of Global Warming. Feb 20, 2012. 


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