List of Neolithic cultures of China

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This is a list of Neolithic cultures of China that have been unearthed by archaeologists. They are sorted in chronological order from earliest to latest and are followed by a schematic visualization of these cultures.

It would seem that the definition of Neolithic in China is undergoing changes. The discovery in 2012 of pottery about 20,000 years BC indicates that this measure alone can no longer be used to define the period.[1] It will fall to the more difficult task of determining when cereal domestication started.


Dates (BCE) English name Chinese name Modern-day name and location
18000–7000 Xianren Cave culture
仙人洞、吊桶环遗址 Wannian County, Shangrao, Jiangxi
8500–7700 Nanzhuangtou culture 南莊頭遺址 Yellow River region in southern Hebei
7500–6100 Pengtoushan culture 彭頭山文化 central Yangtze region in northwestern Hunan
7000–5000 Peiligang culture 裴李崗文化 Yi-Luo river basin valley in Henan
6500–5500 Houli culture 後李文化 Shandong
6200–5400 Xinglongwa culture 興隆洼文化 Inner Mongolia-Liaoning border
6000–5000 Kuahuqiao culture 跨湖桥文化 Zhejiang
6000–5500 Cishan culture 磁山文化 southern Hebei
5800–5400 Dadiwan culture 大地灣文化 Gansu and western Shaanxi
5500–4800 Xinle culture 新樂文化 lower Liao River on the Liaodong Peninsula
5400–4500 Zhaobaogou culture 趙宝溝文化 Luan River valley in Inner Mongolia and northern Hebei
5300–4100 Beixin culture 北辛文化 Shandong
5000–4500 Hemudu culture 河姆渡文化 Yuyao and Zhoushan, Zhejiang
5000–3000 Daxi culture 大溪文化 Three Gorges region
5000–3000 Majiabang culture 馬家浜文化 Lake Tai area and north of Hangzhou Bay
5000–3000 Yangshao culture 仰韶文化 Henan, Shaanxi, and Shanxi
4700–2900 Hongshan culture 紅山文化 Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, and Hebei
4100–2600 Dawenkou culture 大汶口文化 Shandong, Anhui, Henan, and Jiangsu
3800–3300 Songze culture 崧澤文化 Lake Tai area
3400–2250 Liangzhu culture 良渚文化 Yangtze River Delta
3100–2700 Majiayao culture 馬家窯文化 upper Yellow River region in Gansu and Qinghai
3100–2700 Qujialing culture 屈家嶺文化 middle Yangtze region in Hubei and Hunan
3000–2000 Longshan culture 龍山文化 central and lower Yellow River
2800–2000 Baodun culture 寶墩文化 Chengdu Plain
2500–2000 Shijiahe culture 石家河文化 middle Yangtze region in Hubei
1900–1500 Yueshi culture 岳石文化 lower Yellow River region in Shandong
1600–1400 Erligang culture 二里崗文化 North China Plain

Schematic outline[edit]

Map of the Chinese Neolithic

These cultures existed for the period from 8500 to 1500 BC. Neolithic cultures remain unmarked and Bronze Age cultures (from 2000 BC) are marked with *. There are many differences in opinion on the dating for these cultures, so the dates chosen here are tentative:

Yellow River
Yellow River
Sichuan (7) Southeast
8500     Nanzhuangtou            
7000           Pengtoushan      
6500   Dadiwan Peiligang Houli   and Zaoshi)   Zengpiyan  
Xinglongwa Laoguantai Cishan 6500–5500   7000–5800   7000–5500  
6200–5400 Baijia Jiahu            
6000   6500–5000 Lijiacun   Kuahuqiao        
    6500–5000   6000–5000        
Xinle     5300–4500          
5000 5300–4800   Yangshao   Hemudu Daxi   Dapenkeng  
    5000–3000   5000–3400 5000–3300   Fuguodun  
        Majiabang     5000–3000  
4500 Zhaobaogou       5000–4000        
4500–4000     Dawenkou Songze        
      4300–2600 4000–3000        
3500           Qujialing      
Hongshan         3500–2600 Yingpanshan    
(incl. Fuhe) Majiayao     Liangzhu   3100-?    
3000 3400–2300 3300–2700     3200–1800     Tanishan  
  Banshan     Shijiahe Baodun Shixia  
  2700–2400 Longshan   2500–2000 2800–2000 Nianyuzhuan  
2500   Machang 2800–2000 Longshan   Qinglongquan   Qinglongquan  
  2400–2000   2600–2000     Hedang Baiyangcun
  *Qijia *Shimao   Longshan   3000-? 2200–2100
2000 *Xiajiadian 2300–1800 2300-1800     2400–2000     Dalongtan
2000–300   *Erlitou *Yueshi         2100–2000
  *Siba 1900–1500 1900–1500 *Maqiao        
1500   1950–1500 *Erligang


  1800–1200 *Sanxingdui 1700-1150    

For this schematic outline of its neolithic cultures China has been divided into the following nine parts:

  1. Northeast China: Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning.
  2. Northwest China (Upper Yellow River): Gansu, Qinghai and western part of Shaanxi.
  3. North-central China (Middle Yellow River): Shanxi, Hebei, western part of Henan and eastern part of Shaanxi.
  4. Eastern China (lower Yellow River): Shandong, Anhui, northern part of Jiangsu and eastern part Henan.
  5. East-south-eastern China (lower Yangtze): Zhejiang and biggest part of Jiangsu.
  6. South-central China (middle Yangtze): Hubei and northern part of Hunan.
  7. Sichuan and upper Yangtze.
  8. Southeast China: Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, southern part of Hunan, lower Red River in the northern part of Vietnam and the island of Taiwan.
  9. Southwest China: Yunnan and Guizhou.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wu, Xiaohong; Zhang, Chi; Goldberg, Paul; et al. (29 June 2012). "Early Pottery at 20,000 Years Ago in Xianrendong Cave, China". Science. 336 (6089): 1696–1700. Bibcode:2012Sci...336.1696W. doi:10.1126/science.1218643. PMID 22745428. S2CID 37666548. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 April 2022. Retrieved 26 April 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chang, Kwang-chih (1986). The archaeology of ancient China. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-03784-8.
  • Loewe, Michael (1999). The Cambridge history of ancient China:from the origins of civilization to 221 B.C. Cambridge, UK New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-47030-7.
  • Higham, Charles (1996). The Bronze Age of Southeast Asia. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-49660-8.
  • Liu, Li (2004). The Chinese neolithic:trajectories to early states. Cambridge, UK New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81184-8.
  • Liu, Li; Chen, Xingcan (eds). 2012. The archaeology of China: from the late paleolithic to the early bronze age. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-64310-8
  • Underhill, Anne P (ed). 2013. A companion to Chinese archaeology. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4443-3529-3
  • Maisels, Charles (1999). Early civilizations of the old world:the formative histories of Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, India, and China. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-10976-0.
chapter 7, Higham, Charles, 'East Asian Agriculture and Its Impact', p.234-264.
chapter 15, Higham, Charles, 'Complex Societies of East and Southeast Asia', p.552-594

External links[edit]