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HOME > Exhibition > Permanent Exhibition > Acient Liaoning > The Prehistoric Era
The Prehistoric Era

The Prehistoric Era (approximately 280,000 - 4,000 years ago)




Exploring the Primitive Cave Era


Archaeologists generally place the origin of humanity in the long period before the appearance of agriculture, a time known as the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age. The manufacture of stone tools is the hallmark of this era. Liaoning is an area of relatively early human activity, where archaeologists have discovered fairly complete developmental sequences encompassing the early, middle and late Paleolithic, whose cultural characteristics are quite similar to those of the Paleolithic culture of northern China. Included among these are degree of evolution towards Homo sapiens of the Jinniushan people, and the level of material culture of the Xiaogushan people, placing them among the front ranks in the story of human evolution and making them the forbears of the Liao River civilization.



The Jinniushan Site

The Jinniushan site is situated in the Xitian village, Yong’an Township in the city of Dashiqiao in Yingkou. This is northeast China’s culturally richest archaic human cave site from the early Paleolithic at 280,000 years old. The people of Jinniushan lived in caves, understood ventilation and fire-making, and were able to use quartzite to make small tools. A largely complete fossilized human skeleton of one individual was discovered at the site, with skull and limbs more advanced than the contemporaneous Peking Man. It shows that the people of Jinniushan walked upright, spanning the gap between Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens. This is a rare specimen of human progress, which was hailed in 1986 as one of the ten greatest scientific developments. 


The Miaohoushan Site

The Miaohoushan site is situated in Shanchengzi village on the eastern bank of the Tang River in Xiaoshi Town in Benxi County. One of the northernmost early Paleolithic cave sites in China, it is characterized by the large stone chips that were made there. It features elements of the large stone tool culture associated with the Kehe-Dingcun culture in north China, and is closely related to the Paleolithic culture of the Korean peninsula. Human teeth discovered there have been dated at approximately 250,000 years old. 


The Gezidong Site

The Kazuo Gezidong (Pigeon Cave) site is situated on the west bank of the Daling River in Ganzhao Township, Kazuo County, and is roughly 70,000 years old. The people of Gezidong mainly used quartzite to make stone tools of smaller sizes. Analysis of the animal bones in the ash layer within Gezidong reveals that people of that period mainly hunted antelope. Traces of human  fire-making have also been discovered at the site, marking a major advance in human control of nature. 


The Xiaogushan Site

The 40,000-year-old Xiaogushan site is situated in Xiaogushan Town in Haicheng. As many as ten thousand scrapers and stone balls used for hunting have been found here. Fishhooks, spearheads and needles made of bone, as well as decorative items made of animal teeth and shell, make this site a rarity among contemporaneous sites in China. It also showcases the cultural progress of the Liaoning region during the late Paleolithic era.



Out of Darkness into the Light of Civilization


Roughly 10,000 years ago, during a transition marked by the use of polished stone tools, primitive agricultural production and the invention of pottery, ancient people entered the Neolithic era. Over 450 Neolithic sites have been discovered in Liaoning, and human traces are found throughout the province. Included among these are the ritual jades and the concept of dragon worship from the 8,000-year-old Chahai site, make the Liaoning region take the lead in entering early civilization. The massive, 5,000-year-old Niuheliang ‘altar temple grave’ sacrifice site is an early example of Chinese civilization. 



Clan Settlements

During the Neolithic era, mankind emerged from the wilderness and came to settle in hills on the sides of rivers. They constructed houses, planned villages surrounded by moats, and began settled life in clan-based societies. The moat-ringed settlement sites discovered at the Chahai site in Fuxin date to roughly 8,000 years ago. Primitive settled clan societies have also been discovered at Xinle in Shenyang, Houwa in Dandong, and Xiaozhushan in Dalian, which can give us a picture of the bustling life of clan societies.


Ancient Chinese Civilization

Five thousand years ago, Chinese civilization took shape in a pattern where progress was achieved from multiple sources, thus accelerating its development. The large-scale ‘altar temple grave’ ritual sacrifice structures are found at the Niuheliang site of the Hongshan culture in western Liaoning featuring  statues of goddesses, as well as jade ritual implements with motifs of dragons, phoenixes, and people. This indicates that the area had already become a prehistoric religious site and political centre. Five thousand years ago, the Hongshan culture had already formed a stable and independent form of government, making it a leader as ancient states began to form in China.   







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