Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hemudu culture

The Hemudu culture was a Neolithic culture that flourished just south of the Hangzhou Bay in Jiangnan in modern Yuyao, Zhejiang, China. The site at Hemudu was discovered in 1973. Hemudu sites were also discovered on the islands of Zhoushan.

Material Culture

The Hemudu culture co-existed with the Majiabang culture as two separate and distinct cultures, with cultural transmissions between the two. Two major floods caused the nearby Yaojiang River to change its course and inundated the soil with , forcing the people of Hemudu to abandon its settlements. The Hemudu people lived in long, stilt houses.

The Hemudu culture is one of the earliest cultures to cultivate rice. Most of the artifacts discovered at Hemudu consist of animal bones, exemplified by hoes made of shoulder bones used for cultivating rice.

The culture also produced lacquer wood. The remains of various plants, including water caltrop, ''Nelumbo nucifera'', acorns, beans, ''Gorgon euryale'' and , were found at Hemudu. The Hemudu people likely domesticated pigs, and dogs. The people at Hemudu also fished and hunted, as evidence by the remains of bone harpoons and bows and arrowheads. Music instruments, such as bone whistles and wooden drums, were also found at Hemudu.

The culture produced a thick, porous pottery. The distinct pottery was typically black and made with charcoal powder. Plant and geometric designs were commonly painted onto the pottery; the pottery was sometimes also cord-marked. The culture also produced carved jade ornaments, carved ivory artifacts and small, clay figurines.


Fossilized amoeboids and pollen suggests Hemudu culture emerged and developed in the middle of the Holocene Climatic Optimum. A study of a sea-level highstand in the Ningshao Plain from 7000 – 5000 BP shows that there may have been stabilized lower sea levels at this time followed by, from 5000 to 3900 BP, frequent flooding.

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