Times & Places

Neolithic China (c. 5000 B.C.E - c.1600 B.C.E.)

The Neolithic period in China is marked by settled, agricultural societies and the building of villages. It is divided into pottery-based phases within which are related culture branches, all of which derive their names from excavation sites. Painted pottery traditions were the earliest art form. These early wares were soft pottery baked in low temperature firings. Regional types were evident from the earliest phases, and regional features were to remain a constant feature of ceramic development. Used as urns to hold grain or offerings in the burial site, and for storage in daily life, these vessels were hand built by coiling. The potter's wheel was invented a little after 3000 BCE in the eastern provinces, contemporary with the emergence of the wheel in Egypt though not related to it. The oldest wares bear representational subject matter such as plants and animals, and abstract, geometric forms gradually evolved. The meaning of these abstract depictions is not known though they may be symbolic.

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