The Banpo Museum is located in a modern building some three miles to the east of Xi'an City in Shaanxi Province. It is near the bridge that crosses the river, long renowned as one of the famous eight rivers of Chang'an. Banpo Museum is located in the east of Xian and is the site of a village that dates back around 6,000 years to the Neolithic era, which is known as the Yangshao Culture in China. The site was discovered in 1953 and covers an area of approximately 50,000 sq meters. Excavations revealed 45 houses, pottery, kilns, a burial ground, grain stores and tool stores. Banpo is considered to be one of the best examples of an agricultural community of this era anywhere in the world.The most interesting aspect of this is that Yangshao culture was very matrifocal. There are more female tombs and graves here than male, and the women's graves contain more objects and valuables than their male counterparts do.
It is claimed that the residents of this ancient village lived in a matriarchal community where the women organized everything from the hunting and farming to the building of the village and digging the defensive moats that protected the well-planned community. Other relics uncovered at the site include examples of the pottery of this era and over 10,000 tools and household utensils.
Visitors today can see the remains of 45 houses, 2 stables, more than 200 cellars, 6 kilns, and about 250 graves. The houses were constructed of thatch over wood beams while the floors were sunk two to three feet into the ground. Heat was provided by a central fire. Food was stored in underground caves, dug deep enough to protect the provisions from being devoured by wildlife or contaminated by insects. Architecture, village organization, and food storage methods appear to have been strikingly similar to the way of life of some native American plains tribes.
A bottle with sharppointed bottom unearthed in Banpo
The arrangement of the Neolithic village was quite organized. At the center of the settlement was a 160-square meter-large room that was surrounded by many smaller rooms. All of the doors of these faced the inside larger room, reflecting the clan spirit of a cohesive group. Around the village was a 300-meter long trench or ditch that was used to keep wild animals from attacking. To the east was a ceramic-making area and to the north was the cemetery district. Inside the town were some 46 houses. Some were square, some round, some half-submerged in the ground, some on the surface. These houses already used traditional Chinese wall-construction methods and can be called precursors of later Chinese architecture that used wood and earth.
The Banpo worked together. They dug a trench around the entire complex both for protection and for drainage. There was a large meeting hall in the center of the village and a place for central storage. Most of the tools (e.g., axes, hoes, knives) were of stone, but some implements were of bone (e.g., needles for sewing). The stone tools look remarkably sharp, but it was still fortunate that the Banpo settled in an area where the soil was loose and easily tilled.
Art, in the form of geometric designs and human and animal figures, is found on many of the pots. Some of the pottery items have marks scratched on them that may well anticipate a form of writing. The village pottery produced specialized pots for drinking, storage, cooking, and burial. (Although adults were buried in the cemetery outside the village, children and infants were buried alongside the huts in special clay urns; the reason for this continues to be matter for speculation.)
||CNY 35 (Mar. to Nov.)|
CNY 25 (Dec. to Feb.)
||08:30 to 17:00|
|Recommended Time for a Visit:
||From Xian Railway Station: Take No. 213, 42, 105 and 231 buses;|
From the South Gate: Take No. 232 bus;
From the Bell Tower: Take No. 11 and 15 buses
From the Wild Goose Pagoda: Take 237 and 715 buses