Pro-historical Age

Various accounts exist among the peoples of the world about the appearance of the sky, the earth and man. Chinese myth told us it was PangGu, creator of universe, who separated heaven and earth, then, he turned different parts of his body into the sun, the moon, and into mountains, rivers, land, soil, grass, trees, wind and clouds. Man was created out of earth by goddess Nuwa. However, the development of science - especially modern archaeology, palaeoanthropology and geology - has gradually solved the mysteries of how the earth came into being and how human beings came from. The human fossils found in Africa were believed to be over three million years old and therefore Africa was regarded man's birthplace. In China, the Wushan Man, whose fossil remains unearthed in the Wushan County of Chongqing, revealed a history of at least two million years. 1.7millioms years old fossils of the Yuanmou Man, who were discovered in Yunnan province in 1964, the fossi Lantian Man, who inhabited between 1.15 millions years and 800,000years ago in Shaanxi province, the Peking Man, who inhabited in Zhoukoudian 500.000 years ago, and the Upper Cave Man (Shandingdong Man), the fossils of Homo Erectus Man and Homo Sapient Man were found in widespread sites in China, convinced the Chinese archaeologists that China and east Asia was also one of birthplace of human.

The appearance of man resulted from evolution from more primitive life forms. We know man's appearance is closely related to labor. The earliest tool used by man was chipped stone. In order to distinguish from the ground stone implements that man used later, archaeologists called the period of making and using these chipped stone implements the Old Stone Age (the Paleolithic Period), and the age of making and using ground stone implements the New Stone Age (the Neolithic Period). In order to study the development of these early humans, archaeologists further divided the Old Stone Age into the Early, Middle, and Late Stages. This is identical to the three stages divided according to the physical features of early man: the stage of Homo erectus, the stage of early sapient man, and the stage of late sapient man. In the early Old Stone Age, the stone tools were awkward, simple, and multi-purpose. In China, we found remain of Wushan Homo erectus, it belongs to the early Old Stone Age. In the late Old Stone Age, tools became smaller and more diversified. This period also saw the appearance of more complex tools like the bow and the spear, the development of the hole-drilling technique, and the appearance of some ground stone tools. Humans in this period mainly lived by fruit-gathering and hunting. Not being able to build houses, they dwelt in caves and lived in groups. In China, we found the remain of the Upper Cave Man (Shandingsong Man), who inhabited Zhoukoudean Longgushan mountain about 1,8000 years ago, they were late sapient man, belonged to the late time of Old Stone Age. As early as the Old Stone Age, humans began to use fire. At first they collected natural fire. Later they learned to make fire through stone-striking and wood-drilling. The use of fire was of great significance to human evolution since it enabled man to light their caves, defend themselves against attacks by wild animals, ward off the cold, and alter the habit of eating raw food. Because the use of fire allowed man to cook his food and shorten the digestive process, which resulted in the absorption of more nutrients, the chemical composition of human blood changed, helping to increase man's physical strength and brain power. For example, the cranial capacity of Peking Man, who lived 300,000 years ago, averaged 1,059 ml, they were early sapient man, belonged to the middle Old Stone Age. Whereas the cranial capacity of Upper Cave Man, who lived 18,000 years ago, increased to 1,200-1,500 ml, which is similar to that of modern man. The height of these early humans also neared that of the modern northern Chinese. Remains of the Old Stone Age, widely scattered throughout the country, famous of them are Wushan man 2 millions years ago, Yuanmou Man 1.7 millions years ago, Lantian Man 1.15 millions years ago, Peking Man 500,000 years ago, Hexian Man 300,000 years ago, Dali Man 200,000 years ago, Chongqing Fengji Man 100,000 - 20,000 years ago, Shaanxi Changwu Man 50,000 - 1, 8000 years ago , Upper Cave Man 18.000 - 1.0000 years ago, means that ancient humans lived in a large area in China.

Ten thousand years ago, man who inhabited in China entered the New Stone Age. In China, we found some typical remains of New Stone Age, and came from different period of New Stone Age. For example, remain of Laoguantai Culture 8,000 years ago, remain of Yangshao Culture 6,000 years ago, and remain of Longshan Culture 5,000-4,600 years ago. According to the archaeological work, we found the earth became warmer during that period. This allowed man to leave the mountain areas for the plains close to river. They began to build their own houses and invented pottery. Also in this period, primitive agriculture appeared, making it possible for people to live in permanent settlements. The spreading of technique such as grinding and hole-drilling enabled humans to make more regular and fixed stone tools, those can meet different needs. Research by Chinese archaeologists has found that remains of the New Stone Age mostly lie along the coastal areas of Eastern China. As far as food structure is concerned, the people in the south grew rice while the northern people grew corn. The fact that the Chinese people began to grow paddy (rice) 9,000 years ago indicates that rice was first grown in China, not in India. Our ancestors 8,000 years ago were able to make objects from jade, use the skills of spinning and weaving, blow melodies in seven musical scales, and carve signs in stone and wood. The canoe and oar, unearthed from 7000-year old remains, show that there were water transportation tools at that time. Also during this time, people began to domesticate cattle. The Yangshao people (named after Yangshao, Henan Province, where remains were first found in 1921), who lived 6,000 years ago, created a splendid painted pottery culture and began to build small fortresses using rammed earth skills. Five thousand years ago, people began to raise silkworms and knit goods with mulberry silk. Also they learned smelting copper to make small tools like bronze knives. Four thousand years ago people began to use written characters. In the Yangtze and the Yellow River valleys, a group of old cities appeared. People in Chin take pride in calling themselves the offspring of Huang Di (Yellow Emperor) and Yan Di (Shengno), They were the Chiefs of different tribes in the Yellow River Valley. Legends recorded in ancient documents, like those of the Shennong also called Yandi growing crops, the wife of the Yellow Emperor inventing silk, ministers of the Yellow Emperor inventing characters, the boat and the cart. The Yellow Emperor made weapons of jade to conquer other tribes, taught tribeman to domesticate wild animals and to grow cereals, and as a result his tribe grew in strength and defeated the tribes under Yan Di. Later, the Yellow Emperor and Yan Emperor formed an alliance that conquered all there tribes in the Yellow River Valley. Today the Yellow Emperor is regarded as the ancestor of the Chinese people, who call themselves the descendants of Yan Di and Huang Di. Those ancient remains show that legends are not just myths because they contain some traces of history. These discoveries reveal the long history of China.

In ancient times, people lived in tribes and groups. From remains recently discovered, one can see villages and well-ordered tombs. In this vast age of development, human population kept increasing which often resulted in new clans. Connected by blood relations, these clans contributed to larger tribes. By the time of the late primitive period, there were a large number of clans, tribes, and tribal groups living in China. Archaeologists divided them into the Huaxia Group, the Eastern Tribe Group, and the Southern Tribe Group. The Huaxia Group mainly included the Yellow Emperor's Tribe and the Yandi's Tribe. They originated in what is now Shaanxi and later extended to the eastern areas. These two tribes were involved in quite a few, wars, with the Eastern Tribe Group marching westward and the Southern Tribe Group marching northward. Legend has it that in the Battle of Zhuolu, the Yellow Emperor and the Yandi allied to defeat the Eastern Tribe Group headed by Chiyou and therefore extended their power to what is present day Shandong. To become head of the Huaxia Group, the Yellow Emperor then fought against the Yandi in Banquan and conquered him. Immediately, the Yellow Emperor marched southward, and, as a result, the power of the Huaxia Group reached the Yangtze River and the Hanshui valleys. In this period, the power of the Huaxia Group reigned supreme. Later peoples, such as those of the Yu, the Xia, the Shang and the Zhou, were all considered descendants of the Yellow Emperor. The Huaxia Group, therefore, established its unique place in history with the Yellow Emperor becoming the common ancestor of the Chinese people.

Because of low productivity in ancient times, people had to depend on their collective power for survival. So each individual tried his best to work together and got the same amount of food. To survive and to develop, they had to elect a fair and capable person as their head to lead them to work and to defend against outside invasion. Stories such as Yao's recommendation of Shun, Shun's recommendation of Yu, Yu's recommendation of Gaotao, after Gaotao's death, Yi serve as tribal head. This way of choosing a tribal head was called the Abdication System. That age was one of equality and common ownership of wealth, without cheating or robbery. So historians called it a Society of Great Harmony.

Living in an adverse environment, the ancient people had to struggle against various natural disasters. The Great Yu's taming the water is still a popular story today. To save his people from severe floods, the tribal chief Shun entrusted Gun with the task of water control. Gun used the method of building dikes to prevent floods. After working for nine years, it turned out that this method failed. Then Shun entrusted Yü with the same task. Having learned from his father's failure, Yü adopted the method of dredging the waterways. With his eight-year efforts (some believe it was thirteen years), Yü succeeded in controlling the floods.

With the development of production, man entered the age when an individual was able to produce more than he could consume. Thus, captured soldiers were no longer killed; instead, they became slaves. This was the beginning of the private ownership system. Burial articles found in the Longshan Culture remains indicate that in some graves there was a lot of pottery, jade objects, and ivory while in others there were fewer of these articles. Some people were neither buried in graveyards nor had any burial articles, but were just cast into cellars or ditches. This proves that these people held different social positions and wealth. Some of the tribal chiefs used their power and prestige to become rich. The gap between the rich and the poor enabled the rulers of clans and tribes to become the exploiting class. The appearance of different classes within clans and tribes means that primitive society had come to an end. Under these circumstances frequent wars broke out between clans and tribes for the purpose of capturing slaves and seizing wealth. To defend against robbery and aggression, people built high fortifications. To meet the needs of wars, strong emphasis was placed on weapon production. To protect themselves, privileged persons replaced traditional political systems with new laws and regulations. For example, the Abdication System was no longer carried out. After Yü's death in the Xia Dynasty, his son Qi became king by killing Yi, thus creating a new era of hereditary monarchy. The Xia turned out to be the first hereditary dynasty in Chinese history.

In the early Stone Age, colorful culture began to bud. Different tribes created their own unique culture with distinctive features. Upper Cave Man made ornaments such as perforated animal teeth, pebbles, polished bird bones and stone beads.

Colorful painted pottery and black pottery were symbolic of the development of civilization. Excavated from site of Yangshao culture was beautiful hand mad terra-cotta and red pottery. On those potteries there were painted animals, plants and geometric designs. On the pottery made by Banpo Man, there were black or red patterns of whirlpool, wave, geometry, flower, dear, fish, fishnet and human face, and so on. The shape and patterns of some of the painted pottery were elegant. Those potteries have different shape, some of them were cooking vessels, some were drinking vessels, and some were containers.

Hongshan Culture, which was located in Liaoning province, is the greatest discover of the Stone Age. One small pottery status of woman was discovered over there. It was mould with brown clay, with breasts projecting, waist slim, lower part of the body taking on the shape of a trumpet.
Hunting and gathering were also important themes of what primitive Man expressed. Primitive paintings are those mainly carved in or painted on rocks. Among the most famous rock paintings are Canguuan Rock Paintings in Yunnan, the Huashan Rock Painting in Guangxi, the Jiangjun Rock Paintings in Lianyuangang, The Hutubi Rock Painting in Xinjiang, the gangcha Rock Painting in Qinghai and Heishan Rock Painting inJiayuguan, These rock painting portray the social economy and productive situation, as well as the froup organizations of primitive Man. Some of them describe religious activities, villages, wars and dance scenes. There are rock paintings of birds, fish and stone axes drawn with a simple and unaffected style.

Various materials like bones, pottery, stone and jade were used for carving arts. In the remains of late New Stone Age, some beautiful jade carving unearthed. In the process of material selection for stoneware, people found some beautiful stone with close grains and sparkling colors. With meticulous processing, they made the stones into ornaments either for carrying with them of being buried with them after death. Some of them are sacrificial utensils of may have been practical implements for production. Jade Cong, a long hollow piece of jade with rectangular sides, is made from jade; It symbolizes the female, the moon, the earth and the center. It was one of the main utensils for offering sacrifices to the earth god. Another famous jade object is jade Bi, a jade disc with a whole ant the center, is made from green jade. In contrast to Jade Cong, It symbolizes the male, the sun and the heaven. It was one of the main utensils for offering sacrifices to the heavenly god. Thus jade ware craft was developed and gradually became and independent variety of workmanship.

Music and dancing have the same long history as that of human beings. On the inside wall of the colored pottery basin, which unearthed in Qinghai province are vivid paintings showing dancing scenes. The unearthed primitive musical instruments include Pottery Xun, a bone whistle, pottery bells, bone flutes as well as those made of bamboo, wood, silk.