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Home History and Culture Prehistoric and Ancient History of China
Prehistoric and Ancient History of China
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Prehistoric and Ancient History (1.7 million years ago-476 B.C.)

China's earliest primitive human discovered so far is known as "Yuanmou Man"(yuán móu rén 元谋人), a fossil anthropoid unearthed in Yuanmou (yuán móu 元谋) in Yunnan Province (yún nán shěng 云南省) who lived approximately 1.7 million years ago. The better-known "Peking Man"(běi jīng rén 北京人), discovered in the Zhoukoudian (zhōu kǒu diàn 周口店) area in the suburbs of Beijing, lived about 600,000 years ago. Peking Man was able to walk upright, make and use simple tools, and make fire. By the start of the Neolithic Age in China about 10,000 years ago, people were cultivating rice and millet with farming tools, something revealed by relics found in the ruins of Hemudu (hé mǔ dù  河姆渡) in Yuyao (yú yáo 余姚), Zhejiang Province (zhè jiāng shěng 浙江省), and Banpo (bàn pō  半坡), near Xi'an City (xī ān shì 西安市), Shaanxi Province (shǎn xī shěng 陕西省). The Hemudu site, about 7,000 years old, was one of the earliest New Stone Age locations along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River (cháng jiāng 长江).



Archaeologists have unearthed in the area of Hemudu piles of rice grains, husks, stalks and leaves — and other indications of abundant rice cultivation. The rice grown at Hemudu was long-grained non-glutinous rice, and is the earliest example of artificially cultivated rice that has been found in China to date. The relics are also the oldest rice found so far in Asia.

The Xia Dynasty (xià cháo 夏朝) started in 2070 B.C. The center of Xia was the western section of modern Henan Province (hé nán shěng 河南省) and the southern section of modern Shanxi Province (shān xī shěng 山西省) with a sphere of influence that reached the northern and southern areas of the Yellow River (huáng hé 黄河). It was in this period that the slave society began to appear. The Xia Dynasty was overthrown by Shang (shāng 商). The Western Zhou Dynasty (xī zhōu 西周, 1046-771 B.C.) saw further development of slave society. This era was followed by the Spring and Autumn (chūn qiū shí qī 春秋时期, 770-476 B.C.) and Warring States (zhàn guó shí qī 战国时期, 475-221 B.C.) periods when silk production advanced and steel production started. This era also produced the philosophers Lao Zi (lǎo zǐ 老子), Confucius (kǒng zǐ 孔子), Mencius (mèng zǐ 孟子) and Mo Zi (mò zǐ 墨子), as well as the military scientist Sun Wu (sūn wǔ 孙武), author of the Art of War (sūn zǐ bīng fǎ 孙子兵法).

远古时期和奴隶社会(170万年前—公元前476年) 

      中国是世界上文明发达最早的国家之一,有将近4000年有文字可考的历史。发现于云南元谋的猿人化石表明,距今170万年前的“元谋人”是中国境内已知最早的原始人类。距今近60万年前居住在北京周口店一带的“北京人”,能直立行走,能制造、使用简单的工具,并知道了用火。距今一万年前后的新石器时代遗址,遍布中国各地。在距今六七千年的浙江余姚河姆渡和陕西西安半坡遗址,发现了人工栽培的稻谷和粟粒及农耕工具。 

      最古老的王朝夏朝开始于公元前2070年。夏王朝的中心地区,在今河南省西部和山西南部一带,其势力和影响已达到黄河南北,并开始进入奴隶社会。继夏而兴起的商、西周进一步发展了奴隶制度。之后是王室势力衰微,诸侯争霸的春秋战国时期,这一时期被认为是由奴隶社会向封建社会过渡的阶段。
大约在5000年前,中国人已知道了冶炼铜的技术。3000多年前的商代,开始使用铁器;在制陶方面,有了白陶和彩陶;丝织生产也相当发达,产生了世界上最早的提花丝织技术。到了春秋时期,制钢技术已经出现。春秋战国时期思想学术空前活跃,涌现出对后世产生深远影响的著名的哲学家老子、孔子、孟子和军事学家孙武等人物。

 

 

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