The plan this day was to visit the terracotta warriors and we were part of a bigger group. We set out in a minibus and first went to Banpo, a pre-historic village which was found when a power plant was being built in the early 1950s. When the significance was realized the power plant was moved but already about four fifths of the village had been destroyed. The rest has been partially excavated and covered over so that the museum is on the site of the village.
The first houses there were round, later rather larger rectangular houses were built and even subdivided inside and laid down a pattern which has been used until the 20th century. The Banpo is a typical Neolithic community of the Yangshao Culture dating back about 6,000 years.
Originally it was said to have been a matriarchal community, however, new research contradicts this claim and currently, little can be said of the religious or political structure from these ruins from the archaeological evidence. The settlement was surrounded by a moat, with the graves and pottery kilns located outside of this perimeter. Many of the houses were semi-subterranean with the floor typically 1 metre below the ground surface. The houses were supported by timber poles and had steeply pitched thatched roofs. At that time, the people living here used tools made primarily of wood and stone. Women, the crucial labour force, were responsible for making pottery, spinning, and raising the family, while men fished. There appear to be communal burial areas.
There is also a building housing many of the things found and giving explanations of how peopled lived at that time. In addition, artwork and adornments here reflect the social life, culture, art and inventions of the period. Some of the pottery has a distinctive decoration in black depicting a human face and fish.
This post is an extract of my mother’s travel journal written during a tour of China in 2013.