Ancient settlement of Banpo

Banpo – the oldest village in China

To the east of Xian there is the ancient agricultural settlement of Banpo. This is a unique museum village in the open air, where people lived as early as six thousand years ago.

The archaeologists date this monument to the Neolithic culture of Yangshao (5000-3000 BC). The village community lived in matriarchal society, the locals were engaged in hunting, fishing and farming. This period was already characterized by the rudiments of agriculture and domestication of first animals.

The village consisted of 46 mud houses built on a wooden foundation. The dwellings were of semicircular, square and rectangular shapes. Some of them were built partially underground, the others, built at a farther stage of development, were fully overground buildings. All the houses were interconnected by trenches. The central part of each house was occupied by a hearth, while in the southern one there was an entrance. Two farmyards for livestock, about 200 underground storage rooms and 6 pottery kilns were also found in the territory of the village.

In the northern part of Banpo village, there was a cemetery. Its excavation discovered about 250 graves of people, including children, buried in large clay jugs. To the east of the cemetery there was a ceramic production center. A great many of potteries, decorated with various patterns – geometric shapes, floral ornaments, images of animals and people was found there during the diggings.

The village, located on the east reach of the Yellow River, occupied an area of 50,000 square meters. The settlement itself was protected against wild animals by a rampart and moat, with width of 6 meters and a depth from 2 to 6 meters. The moat was also used to drain water in heavy rains.

The Xi'an Banpo Museum, founded on the site of the village, was opened in 1958. The major part of the settlement was protected by a concrete pavilion. The museum consists of five exhibition halls, hosting about 10,000 exhibits. Among them, in addition to ceramics, there are artifacts of stone and bone and other household items of the ancient settlement.