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Cradle of Chinese Civilization

Archaeological findings show that Hebei is one of birthplaces of the Chinese nation. Maybe Hebei was the origin of human race.

Not long ago, the standard earth layer of the Pleistocene Era was found in the Nihewan Basin by the Sanggan River in Yangyuan County, Hebei Province. It can be compared in archaeological research values with the Olduvai Valley in east Africa, which is commonly known by the world as the origin of human race. After 80 years of excavation and research, Chinese and foreign archaeologists found 80 cultural relics sites in an area 82 km long and 27 km wide along the Sanggan River. Tens of thousands of human and animal fossils and various kinds of stone tools were unearthed. They reflected almost all the evolution process of man from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age. So far China has found 25 cultural relics sites which dates back to over one million years ago. Among them, 21 belong to the Nihewan cultural sites. Especially the dining place of human 2 million years ago was found in 2001 for the first time at the Majuangou cultural site, which is recognized commonly by the world as the standard earth layer of the Fourth Period. The stone implements found there are the earliest relics of primitive man so far in Hebei.

The Nihewan cultural relics are so densely distributed and with so long a history that they are rarely seen in China and in the world as well. Because of their significance in prehistory, they were evaluated in 2002 as one of the 100 important archaeological findings in China. The Xiaochangliang Ruins at the Nihewan cultural sites, as witness to the earliest human activities at the farthest north end and one of the places of the origin of primitive people in China, had its name carved into the first step of the bronze passage at the China Millennium Monument. In 2001, the Nihewan cultural sites were listed among the fifth batch of cultural relics units under state protection and in 2002 designated as state natural reserve.

“Peking Man”, known as the remote ancestors of the Chinese people, once   lived and multiplied in the land of Hebei.

Zhoukoudian, southwest of Beijing, was formerly part of Fangshan County under Hebei Province until it was incorporated into Beijing's Fangshan District in 1958. On the Dragon Bone Hill near Zhoukoudian, there is a large cave, where excavation work was done successively by Chinese archaeologists during 1927-1937 and the years after the founding of New China in 1949. There they discovered bones of over 40 individual primitive men, fossils of over 100 different mammals, and tens of thousands of simple stone tools. They also found layers of ashes, which were about 10 meters deep. On December 2. 1929, a fossilized cranium of primitive man was discovered. This shocked China and the world. The primitive man was given the name “Peking Species of Primitive Man of China”, which was simplified to “Peking Primitive Man” or “Peking Man”. According to archaeologists, “ Peking Man” lived 690,000 years ago in the early stage of primitive society. This shows that in the remote past Hebei was the place where primitive man lived. Peking Man lived in the Paleolithic Age. They used chipped stone tools to hunt animals and gather food. They knew how to use and control fire and lived in large groups. While transforming the nature and tempering their bodies, they created the culture of remote ages.

In the Neolithic Age about 6,000-7,000 years ago, human activities in Hebei became more widespread, covering almost every mountain and plain in north and west Hebei. Cultural relics representing the Yangshao Culture, Longshan Culture and Microlithic Culture were found scattering all over the province. Over 70 relic sites of the Neolithic Age have been found in Hebei, such as the “Cishan Relics” of the “Cishan” culture, which belongs to the period of the Yangshao Culture. The Cishan Relics sites, located at the village of Cishan in Wu'an County, is about 7,300 years old. The cultural relics unearthed there from 1976 to 1978 include earthenware, stone and bone implements, totaling about 2,000 pieces. For instance, there are earthenware containers and supporters, stone mills, stone sticks, stone spades and stone sickles, and pig, dog, cattle and chicken bones. Millet was found among the grains unearthed. It is evident that at that time there were quite developed agriculture, animal husbandry and grain processing and that productive forces had reached a level higher than the primary stage of agricultural economy. The findings in the Cishan Relics gave clues for discovering even earlier origins of China's agriculture, animal husbandry and pottery making. Therefore, this discovery is regarded as a major breakthrough in the research on the Neolithic Age since the founding of new China. The large number of cultural relics proves that primitive people had worked and lived in Hebei 6,000-7,000 years ago. They led a life of part time fishing and hunting and part time farming and livestock raising. And they created splendid ancient civilizations.

Hebei, one of the birthplaces of the Chinese nation, has played an important role in the long history of China.

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