We visited Banpo Neolithic Village on the way back to Xi’an after visiting the Terracotta Warriors.
It gets few visitors and doesn’t merit a mention in the guide books. It was the first time our guide had visited.
The area was inhabited between 4500-3750BC and is a complete example of a neolithic settlement. It is thought about 500 people lived in village and shows a remarkable degree of social development. Excavations revealed the remains of 45 houses, 2 stables, more than 200 cellars, 6 kilns, and about 250 graves. House floors were sunk 2-3’ into ground. Heat was provided by a central fire. Walls were mud brick and roofs were thatch over wood beams. Food was stored in underground caves, dug deep enough to protect it from being eaten by wildlife or contaminated by insects. There was a trench around the settlement for protection and drainage. There was a large meeting hall in the centre of the village and place for central storage. Adults were buried in a cemetery outside village in single sex graves. Women had more funeral objects than men. Children and infants were buried alongside huts in clay urns.
It was a hunting, farming and fishing community. The land was opened up by slashing and burning. Cabbage, mustard and hemp (for clothes) were the main crops and there is evidence they kept chickens. It was a matriarchal society.
The excavated remains are on display under cover in a large shed. There are a few signs in Chinese but virtually no information in English. We relied on our guide to interpret the signs for us and then had to decide how they related to what we could see.
There is a separate small exhibition of pottery and tools found on the site. The pottery was beautifully decorated with geometric designs or humans or animals in black paint. Later designs became more abstract. Banpo was worth visiting just to see the pottery.
Our pictures can be seen here.