It is named after an old inn, in which grounds the remains were first discovered.
The site of the ancient settlement was discovered in the grounds of an old accommodation block for an electrical factory. The accommodation block was called the Xinle Dormitory and hence the discovery was named the Xinle Relic. When it was discovered that the settlement was that of a hitherto unknown civilization, the whole civilization was named after the relic and hence became known as the Xinle civilization. Although more recent discoveries in nearby areas have been extremely significant, especially one in Xinmin, the original name has prevailed.
In 1973, excavations at the site discovered evidence for some 40 neolithic houses. Artefacts uncovered during the dig included stone tools, pottery, jade, bone tools, wood carvings and refined coal.
In 1978, another dig uncovered yet more artefacts, including one wooden carving that was some 7200 years old, presumably a type of totem worshipped by the clan. No other find in the whole of Shenyang has been older, the find is also one of the oldest wooden carvings found anywhere in the world.
The excavations also discovered two tombs from 1000 years ago.
In 1984 the Museum of the Xinle Civilization was founded.
The museum is divided into two sections, north and south. The southern section contains displays of the various artefacts unearthed during the various excavations that have taken place on 44 acre site. The northern section contains a reconstruction of a 7000 year old Xinle village. Some of the houses in the settlement contain representations of life 7000 years ago.