As one of the key historical sites under State protection and the national base of patriotism education, Hemudu Cultural Relics is the ancient remains of the Neolithic Age over 7,000 years ago currently located at Langshuqiao Village of Hemudu Town.
Hemudu Cultural Relics was uncovered in 1973 and a total of 2,800 m2 has been unearthed through two phases of excavation efforts. With a history of more than 6900 years, Hemudu Cultural Relics has unveiled a well of unique and time-honored culture, and was hence called the "Hemudu Culture" in the academic circles.
Hemudu Cultural Relics have the rolling Siming Mountain on its South and eastward-running Yao River on its Southwest. Go 25 km eastward along Yaojiang River, and you will arrive at downtown Ningbo and 25 km further westward you will arrive at Yuyao City. Our forefathers lived in such a picturesque scenery and created a brilliant Hemudu culture.
Hemudu Cultural Relics cover an area of 40,000 m2 and is made up of four cultural strata that are inherently correlated and lay one upon another. It spans a history of some 2000 years between the formation of the first stratum 7,000 years ago and that of the fourth stratum 5000 years ago. About 7,000 cultural relics have been unearthed after two explorations.
The fourth stratum of Hemudu Relics is most important. A large pile of rice has been discovered, averaging over 20 cm in height, with the highest one being 80 cm. The rice grains, leaves and chaffs are well preserved. We could see very clearly the fibrous roots, veins and ears when they were unearthed (See the picture). According to the studies of agronomists, the Hemudu people are believed to have planted the rice. Apart from the rice, around 270 bone-hoes, which were made out of bladebones of cloven-hoofed animals, were discovered at the same time. All these reveal vividly that the forefathers sowed seeds on this land and then dug the earth with the bone-hoes. What's more, other tools like bone-reaphooks, mattocks and wooden pestles have been found on this land, which reflects that our ancestors came to use advanced tools in agriculture and promote the planting of rice while discarding the backward method of agricultural production. Agriculture played the key role then and the Hemudu people had a long history of the rice planting. The discovery of Hemudu Cultural Relics provides the crucial first-hand evidence for the controversies over the origin of Asian rice and the time and route that the rice was introduced to Japan. It repudiates the theory that India is the origin of Asian rice and that rice in China came from India, and holds that the lower reaches of Yangtze River is the origin of Asian rice or that both China and India are the centers of Asian rice. The lower reaches of Yangtze River is therefore proved to be one of the places to plant the earliest rice in the world.
The remnants of at least 61 animals have also been unearthed in Hemudu, most of which are wild animals in addition to the tamed ones such as pigs, dogs and water buffaloes. The major part of animals comprise: the Asian elephants and rhinoceros, which love mild temperature and moisture, ferocious tigers, wolves and bears, lovely and tame sambars and spotted deer, nimble macaques and red-faced monkeys, and all kinds of fish, river clams, Yangtze crocodiles and birds. Moreover, the historical remains of 24 species of plants in Hemudu have been unearthed, for instance, piles of acorns, water caltrop and sour date. All these show the natural scene of ancient time: a humid and hot area spotted by large lakes; wild animals ran in the primitive forest teeming with fruits and lotus seeds were floating over the lake. The Ning-Shao plain of 6,000-7,000 years ago looked much like the Yunnan Province's Xishuangbanna of today.
More astonishingly, a huge store of wooden architecture relics was discovered in the third and fourth stratum of Hemudu Cultural Relics. They lay one upon another to offer a spectacle. One of the architecture rows extended as long as over 25 m. These houses are the oldest fence-style architecture ever found (see picture on the right). Hemudu used to be limnic area in ancient times, so our ancestors drove piles in the earth first of all and then put up a wooden board on them to fend off the rain and wind or attacks from wild life, our ancestors erected thickly packed wooden piles around as the fence wall. Wooden tenons and mortises were used to fix the house frame, because no metal tools were available then. Our forefathers made the wooden tenons and mortises using such rough tools as stone chisels and bone chisels. This kind of architecture was unique for its mature design and impressive size. It is not only a rare masterpiece in China, but also a classic in the long history of human culture. What's more, the archeologists also unearthed the wooden well, which was made of more than 200 bottom-tapered wooden piles and a rig of logs with tenons and mortises. Because the well looks like the Chinese character "井" in shape, we may infer that the character "井" derives from it.
Hemudu Cultural Relics also contains a large quantity of ware made of bone, wood, earth and stone. The simple stone ware consists of the axe and chisel only. The earthen ware includes jars, kettles and trays. The predominant part of the ware is the bone ware, most of which were made in a refined way and used widely. The bone-hoe was employed for farming and the bone-whistle for imitating the sound of animals in hunting or as a music instrument. There was also plenty of bone arrow-heads for use in hunting. Moreover, the Hemudu people came to possess and use various utensils in life & production, such as daggers, needles, chisels and spoons, and they also took pride in the hundreds of wooden ware like knives, spears, sticks, shovels, oars, bowls and hammers. The oar they used at that time resembles the modern one, indicating the inhabitants had already conquered the rivers. Also, the discovery of various earthen spinning wheels, bone needles and shuttles reflect that the ancient Hemudu people had learned to weave cloth in a primitive way.
The Hemudu people lived a rich intellectual life as seen from the unearthed arts and crafts like color paintings, carvings and knitted articles. The Hemudu people made the earthen ware in a realistic and exaggerated way. For instance, a little dog curled there to guard the gate and fish held its head high or jumped forward. Symmetrical rice ears was carved on the external side of the earthen basin, which showed the wish of Hemudu habitants for harvest. The earliest lacquer ware found in China is the soft-colored water bucket and wooden bowl of Hemudu. The bone dagger has two symmetrical birds engraved on it and the whole picture is vivid and impressive. A total of 20 ivory carvings unearthed vary from one to another, indicating their plain way of thinking and rich artistic imagination.
The recent discovery of Liangzhu Cultural Relics in Ningbo, Yuyao, Cixi, Fenghua, Xiangshan, Yin County and Zhoushan, which was rooted in the late phase of Hemudu culture, has greatly enriched the Hemudu culture. All these facts have proved that the ancient habitants, who lived in the low reaches of Yangtze River 7000 years ago, waged a hard struggle against tough nature to exploit the areas along the Yangzi River before they entered the civilized society. With mutual efforts of the people along the Yellow River, they created the splendid Chinese culture on this vast land.
Address: Langshuqiao Village, Hemudu Town, Yuyao City, Zhejiang Province
Postal code: 315400
Telephone number: 0574-62960731