Traces of Remote Antiquity

From Yuanmou Man to Peking Man; the Making of Tools and the Use of Fire

The first primitive man so far known to have existed in China is Yuanmou Man, who lived about 1.70 million years ago. In 1965, two fossil front teeth of primitive ape men were discovered in Yuanmou County , Yunnan Province. Later, stone artifacts, pieces of animal bone showing signs of human work and ash from campfires were also dug up. The primitive ape man who had inhabited the site came to be known as Yuanmou Man.

In 1963 and 1964, a fossil skullcap, the upper and lower jawbones, and three teeth of the ape man were discovered together with stone arti-facts and animal fossils in Lantian County , Shaanxi Province. The”Lantian Man” inhabited this site 500,000 to 600,000 years ago. 1 Other traces of the ape man have also been found in Hebei , Shanxi , Henan , Hubei , and Guizhou . BUt the best-known of all is “Peking Man”.

Peking Man, whose remains were discovered at Zhoukoudian to the southwest of Beijing (Peking), lived some 400,000 to 500,000 years ago. In excavations before and since liberation in 1949, a wealth of fossils and other evidence of this culture have been uncovered. In1966, a relatively complete fossil skullcap was discovered at the site. To date, fossil bones deriving from more than forty individuals of both sexes and various ages, and more than 100,000 pieces of stone worked by man, fossils of more than a hundred kinds of animals, and traces of campfires have been discovered there.

Though still retaining some of the features of the ape, Peking Man’s physical structure already possessed the basic characteristics of man. He was relatively short, the male averaging 1.558 metres, the fe-male 1.435. His face was shorter than that of modem man, his mouth protruded, and he had no chin, while his forehead was low, fiat, and receding. His skull was about twice as thick as modem man’s, with the cap smaller at the top and widening towards the base. Cranial capacity averaged 1,075 cc., approximately 80 per cent of contemporary man’s, more than twice that of the modem anthropoid ape (415 cc.), and much greater than Lantian Man’s 780 cc. The brain structure was incompara-bly more advanced than that of present-day anthropoid apes. Peking Man had two inter-locking heavy brow bones above the eye sockets which screened his eyes, his nose was flat, his cheekbones were promi-nent, his teeth strong and their grinding surfaces relatively complex.

Peking Man’s lower limbs already had the basic form of those of modem man. In size, shape, proportion, and muscular attachment, his thighbones were similar to those of present-day man, though they still possessed some primitive features. The bone walls were thicker and the medullary cavities inside the bones smaller, while the transverse diameter of the middle section of the femur was slightly greater than the diameter measured front to back more like that of the ape than of contemporary man, whose femoral cross-section is the reverse. But Peking Man could already walk and even run erect, though he was somewhat stooped.

Through labour over long periods, Peking Man’s hands had become dexterous, as they had had to adapt to complex movements. The humerus and collar bone of the upper arm resembled those of modem man, though the humerus was still somewhat primitive, with a relatively small medul-lary cavity and a thicker wall. Research on the inner surface of the crani-um shows that the left cerebral hemisphere was bigger than the right, testifying to the fact that Peking Man normally used the right hand in labour. This point is verified by reference to the stone tools he used.

It is clear that the uneven development of the various parts of Peking Man’s physique was due to the nature of the labour in which he was engaged. Hand labour led to the functional differentiation between the upper and lower limbs, with the upper limbs developing faster than the lower. The development of the brain occurred gradually as a result of hand labour and differentiation of the limbs, and thus the primitive character of Peking Man’s head is rather more pronounced. The role of labour in the physical development process proves the truth enunciated by Engels: “Labour created man.”

Peking Man was already able to make and use tools: tools of wood and bone, but especially of stone. He already had several ways of making stone tools. He used one piece of stone to strike or hammer another stone to pieces, or broke a stone held in his hand by pounding it against a bigger stone, thus knocking off large numbers of usable sharp flakes which could be fashioned into various kinds of tools. Most of the tools were made of stone flakes worked on one edge. Only a few were made of unworked stone flakes. The stone tools can be roughly classified as choppers, scrapers, or knife-shaped tools, ac- cording to their different forms and uses. Some were suitable for cut- ting and fashioning wooden hunting clubs, others for cutting animal skins or meat. The tools made and used by Peking Man prove that he was essentially different from the animals and had already come a long way on the road of human development.

A great deal of ash, some of it in piles and some in layers, has been discovered in the caves once inhabited by Peking Man. The ash contains pieces of burnt animal bones and stones of various colours, hackberry seeds, and charred Chinese redbud wood, showing that animal meat was often roasted, and that Peking Man was already able to preserve, use, and control fire.

The use of fire allowed Peking Man to cook his food, and thus shorten the digestive process and promote the absorption of more nutri-ents, thereby spurring physical evolution and enhancing health. At the same time, fire could be used to ward off cold and defend against attacks by fierce animals. It could serve as an effective aid in hunting as well.

In his mutual relations, Peking which do not and cannot exist in the Man had already formed links animal realm, namely, the links involved in the cooperative creation and use of tools, and the creation of speech through the common labour process. The size of the part of the brain where the speech centre is located shows that he could al-ready speak. Speech originated in joint labour, and in turn promoted the evolution of man’s body; it had an especially great influence on the development of man’s brain.

Peking Man’s main productive activities were hunting and gath-ering. The great quantities of smashed and burnt deer bones discov-ered in the caves where he lived indicate that deer were his principal game. Probably his most effective hunting weapons were the firebrand and the wooden club. Although no clubs have been preserved, the discovery of many choppers and big convex tools suitable for scraping wood, provides indirect evidence of their existence.

Peking Man led an extremely difficult life in primitive collectives. He used his crude tools, his limited labour experience, and his simple cooperative labour to confront every kind of natural hazard, to stave off repeated attacks by wild beasts, and to procure his essential food. His lifespan was generally not long; of the more than forty individuals whose remains have been discovered, approximately one-third died before the age of fourteen years.

Dingcun(Tingsun) Man and Upper Cave Man;the Improvement of Tools and the Emergence of Ornaments

About 100,000 years ago, China’s ancient culture entered the “Neanderthaloid” stage. Human fossils from this period are relatively widely distributed in China, but the most significant among them are those of “Maba Man”, discovered in Qujiang County in South China’s Guangdong Province; “Changyang Man”, found in Changyang County in Central China’s Hubei Province; and “Dingcun Man”, un-covered in Xiangfen County in North China’s Shanxi Province. Their physical appearance was already different from that of Peking Man. Maba Man’s skull bones were thinner than those of Peking Man, and his forehead was higher. Changyang Man’s upper jawbone did not protrude so much as Peking Man’ s. And both the roots and the crowns of Dingcun Man’s teeth were more advanced than those of Peking Man, closer to those of modem man.

Dingcun Man lived in the Fenhe River basin to the west of the Taihang Mountains . His chief tools were still stone implements, but they were more advanced than those of Peking Man, both in terms of flaking and fashioning technique. In making the flakes, Dingcun Man commonly used a flinging technique, forcefully hurling a large piece of stone against another stone. Dingcun Man’s stone implements were also more clearly differentiated as to type than were those of Peking Man, with tools like the prismatic knife-edge and stone balls appear-ing for the first time.

About 40,000 years ago, China ‘s ancient culture entered the stage of “modem man”. Starting then, the hunting and fishing economy underwent a remarkable advance and the matriarchal commune gradu-ally took shape. Traces of the peoples of that period have been found at many places across China ‘s wide territory. Typical examples are Liujiang Man and Qilinshan Man found in Liujiang and Laibin coun- ties respectively in Guangxi, South China; Hetao Man found along both banks of the Sjara-osso-gol River in Uxin Banner, Inner Mongo- lia and in Lingwu County in Ningxia; the Shiyu Culture which existed 28,000 years ago in what is now Shuoxian in North China’s Shanxi Province; and the Upper Cave Man who lived about 18,000 years ago in caves near the top of Dragon Bone Hill at Zhoukoudian, where Peking Man was discovered.

Upper Cave Man’s physical make-up and outward appearance were hardly different from those of present-day man. As a result of working with the hands and walking erect, the load on the skeletal muscles had been diminishing. Thus the walls of the bones of the limbs had become thinner, and the medullary cavity larger. As for the head, the cranial capacity had expanded and the structure of the brain was reaching a higher level of complexity and perfection. Peking Man’s cranial capacity had averaged 1,075 cc., but Liujiang Man’s and Upper Cave Man’s was between 1,300 and 1,500 cc., similar to that of present man. As the brain gradually grew, the forehead became progressively higher, the cranium progressively thinner, and the point of maximum breadth of the skull shifted from above the ears to the region where the parietal bones link up. The brow-ridges had become thinner and flatter, and the teeth smaller and less complex. The mouth had receded so that the lower jaw and nasal bridge were more promi-nent as in modern man. The cranium of Liujiang Man and Upper Cave Man possessed the basic characteristics of that of modern man. From the point of view of race, their heads bore the primeval features of the Mongoloid peoples, and they represent an important stage in the for- mation of Mongoloid physical characteristics.

Upper Cave Man’s labour experience and skill surpassed that of his predecessors. Though his stone implements were still basically made by striking stones against each other and by rough fashioning, he had already acquired the new skills of polishing, scraping, drilling, carving and colouring. Among the tools he left behind were two bone implements, a polished dear antler and a lower jawbone. The polished antler bears carved designs consisting of both straight and curved lines. The best reflection of Upper Cave Man’s improved toolmaking techniques is a bone needle. With a length of 82 mm and a diameter varying from 3.1 to 3.3 mm, the needle is round and sharp, and the eye small. To fashion such a needle, an animal bone had to be cut and scraped, the eye had to be gouged out, and then the whole thing had to be polished. By these complex techniques Upper Cave Man created a needle which could be used to sew animal skins into clothing.

Among the ornaments belonging to Upper Cave Man that have been discovered are drilled stone beads, pebbles, the eyesocket bones of black carp, perforated animal teeth and clam shells, and carved tubes made of bird bones. The making of these ornaments involved selection of materials, chipping, drilling, abrading and colouring. Some of the ornaments were dyed red with hematite.

Upper Cave Man’s main economic activities were hunting and fishing. Hare, red deer , sika, wild boar, antelope, badger and fox were his chief game. He also caught ostrich and other birds. He caught various fish, including black carp a metre in length, and he collected freshwater clams. He gathered fruit and roots as supplementary food.

Upper Cave Man, or even his predecessors, probably already knew how to make fire. Making fire instead of just preserving it marked another big step forward in man’s effort to control nature. Engels considered the discovery of the firemaking technique to be even more important than the discovery of the steam engine. He pointed out that “the generation of fire by friction for the first time gave man command over one of the forces of nature, and thus separated him for ever from the animal kingdom.” l The invention of the fire making technique paved the way for many subsequent inventions, such as the making of pottery and metal tools.

The shells of saltwater clams found in the upper cave were not local, but could only be obtained at the seaside quite a distance away. Whether obtained by exchange or collected directly, they show that man had expanded the scope of his activities and contacts, and was in a better position to do battle with nature.

The upper cave is approximately 12 metres long and about 8 metres wide, with an area of more than 90 square metres, and could accommodate a dozen or so inhabitants. The cave was divided naturally into “upper” and “lower” chambers. The upper chamber, near the cave mouth, was the common living quarters, while the lower, located deep inside, served as a burial ground. A vast region around the cave served as the base for hunting, fishing, and gathering activities.

A young female, another of middle age, and an elderly male were interred in the lower chamber of the cave. Hematite powder was scattered around the dead, and stone implements and ornaments were interred with them. The arrangements for the dead give an idea of the activities of the living in the upper chamber. The burial of men and women, old and young together, with production tools and ornaments around them, reflects the closeness of a blood relationship and the

production relations of communal labour and consumption. The fact that there is no great differentiation in burial objects suggests equality of the clan members. The hematite powder and accompanying burial objects show that Upper Cave Man adhered to certain burial customs and that his thinking had developed to a new level at which he had begun to formulate primitive religious beliefs with a superstitious tinge and ideas that went beyond actual existence.

The Yangshao Culture and Its Matriarchal Communes

Some 6,000 to 7,000 years ago, clans and tribes, big and small, were scattered across China , leaving behind rich cultural remains. A microlithic culture extended from the Northeast through Inner Mongolia and Ningxia to Xinjiang and Tibet. There was the Yangshao culture on the middle reaches of the Huanghe (Yellow River), and the Majiayao culture3 on its upper reaches. Other primitive cultures were distributed elsewhere.

The features of the matriarchal commune are displayed relatively distinctly by the Yangshao culture. Mainly discovered in central Shaanxi , western Henan and southem Shanxi, it stretched as far as the upper and middle reaches of the Hanshui River in the south and the Hetao (Yellow River Bend) region in the north, the upper reaches of the Weihe River in Gansu in the west, and Shandong in the east. The remains of many settlements have been found in these places, and in some cases they were clustered relatively close together.

The inhabitants of the Huanghe River region were engaged mainly in a primitive agriculture, supplemented by animal husbandry. They used pointed wooden sticks for digging the earth, and their stone implements were no longer the roughly fashioned ones made by striking stones, but comparatively refined ones made primarily by abrading techniques. They had stone axes for cutting away the ground cover, stone and bone spades for loosening and levelling the soil, and various kinds of stone knives for harvesting grain. The main agricultural crop was grain, but they also planted vegetables. Some simple tools for processing crops had already been invented. Grain was placed on a millstone and ground with a handheld stone pin or disc until it was husked or powdered.

Once man took up agriculture, he was able to produce the food he needed, and thus could settle down. Of course, the methods of cultivation used in primitive agriculture were still in an early stage, and production was always subject to the whims of nature. The yields were low or even came to nothing. In such circumstances a part of or even an entire clan settlement had to move.

Hunting and fishing was second only to agriculture in man’s productive activities, occupying a relatively important position in the economic life of the time. The principal weapons included bows and arrows, stonetipped spears, fishing lances, fishhooks, and nets with stone weights attached. Household animal husbandry developed as another sideline. From the pens and animal skeletons found at the Banpo site at Xi’an , we can see that the main livestock were pigs and dogs. Cattle, sheep, horses and chickens may also have been domesticated. But gathering was still an indispensable part of production. Many hazelnuts, pinenuts, chestnuts, hackberry seeds, snail and clam shells were discovered in the homes and cellars at the Banpo site.

The rise in the quantity and quality of production and household implements is an indication of the advance of handicraft industry. The creation of large numbers of ground and polished tools provided man with new tools and spurred the overall development of social production. That cutting, paring, grinding and drilling techniques were being used can be seen from the axes, adzes, spades, chisels, knives, needles and hairpins. The reflexbarbed fishing spear, the fishhook and the perforated bone needle had already appeared, indicating the relatively high level of the boneworking techniques of primitive handicraft industry.

Weaving and sewing had also made relatively rapid progress. Fibre could be stripped from wild hemp and twisted into thread with the use of pottery or stone spinning wheels, and then be woven into cloth. Animal skins were also used to make clothing. The ingenious bone needles or bone and antler awls could be used to sew cloth and leather into various kinds of clothing.

Pottery manufacture was a new, distinctive handicraft at the time. One of the characteristics of the Yangshao and Majiayao cultures was that they had various kinds of painted pottery. Remains of pottery kilns have been found at the sites of numerous clan settlements. The pottery paste was prepared from relatively fine loess soil to the proper degree of viscosity. After mixing, it was rolled into cords and then either folded to make a rough blank or coiled into an embryonic shape. Small pieces were molded directly into finished form. The next step was decoration of the blank and the addition of handles, ears, noses, etc. by adhesion or inlay. After the blanks were half dry, the inner and outer walls were again scraped and polished. Hematite and manganese oxide were applied with brushlike tools to paint pictures on finer household utensils. Sometimes, before applying the paint, a white or light red ground was applied to make the whole image more colourful. As the kilns were not completely sealed, the iron oxides in the clay would oxidize fully, hence the bulk of the pottery is red or brown.

Part of the pottery articles were production tools while most were household utensils: basic cooking utensils such as stoves, steamers, footed vessels and cauldrons for steaming or boiling various kinds of foods; drinking and eating vessels like cups, basins, plates, bowls and tumblers; and jars and pots for storing things in. There was an amphorashaped bottle for drawing water which utilized the principle of equilibrium: placed on the surface of the water, it would automatically tilt, allowing the water to flow in.

Pottery was one of the most important inventions of the matriarchal commune period. It indicates that man’s wisdom was not limited to the working of natural objects, but could create entirely new things. Pottery could be used to cook food, thereby allowing the human body to absorb more fully the nutritious substances of foodstuffs, and it could be used to store liquids, which was beneficial to agricultural irrigation. This contributed to making the sedentary life style more stable. And the principles of potterymaking could also be applied in making ceramic spinning wheels, pellets for hunting, and sinkers for fishing nets. Fire could also be used to bake the earth walls and foundations of primitive buildings. All of this had very great significance for the advance of human production and livelihood.

Painted pottery was not only practical, but was also a fine handicraft art. The painted designs, patterns, birds and animals on the pottery reflect the agricultural labour and hunting and fishing activities of the time with much liveliness and imagination. There are also many marks carved into the surfaces of the pottery which may have been used as symbols for the utensils themselves. Some scholars believe that they are a kind of primitive script. The birds, fish, deer and frogs depicted on the pottery may have been the clan totems.

The settlements of that era had a fixed layout in keeping with clan structure. The Banpo site is a typical clan settlement. It covers an area of about 50,000 square metres and includes three components: a residential section, a potterykiln quarter, and a common burial ground. Cellars of various shapes within the village were the clan’s common storehouses. The homes in the residential section are themselves ar ranged according to a pattern. There was one very large square building, a place for public activities, while other medium and smallsized buildings served as the clan members’ dwellings. A ditch, approximately five or six metres deep and wide, was dug around the residential section, and the clan’s common burial ground was to the north of the ditch, the kiln quarter to the east. This layout demonstrates that the clan members lived in equality, labouring and consuming in common, and the fact that they were buried together when they died shows that they all belonged to a single clan.

Women enjoyed a high status in the clan. They played an important role in production and other activities. The custom of burying the females in the centre prevailed in some places: dozens of joint matriarchal clan graves have been discovered at Yuanjunmiao, Huaxian County, and Hengzhen Village, Huayin County, in Shaanxi Province . The bodies of the deceased, found in common pits, were all moved there to be buried together; the number of bodies in each pit was uneven, and there were men and women, old and young. The removal and joint burial process was quite complex. When a person died, the corpse was probably first dealt with in an interim fashion, but when a woman of fairly high status in the matriarchal clan died, her body was immediately placed in one of these grave pits in a supine position. Then the remains of the predeceased of the same clan were brought, laid out together, and buried in the same grave. This burial custom, with the women at the centre, is one reflection of the important position women occupied in the clans. But what is more, at the Banpo site and at the Jiangzhai site in Lintong County in Shaanxi, the buried objects accompanying the females generally outnumbered those of the males. This is further demonstration that the women’s social status was high.

Collective labour and the public character of ownership of the means of production determined that the distribution of goods within the matriarchal commune was perforce one of common consumption by all members. The cellars for storing things at the Banpo and Jiangzhai sites are distributed closely together around the dwellings. In some spots there are more than ten clustered together in one place, forming a cellar complex. This may have been a form of collective storage. From the graves we can see that after death the majority of clan members were buried in a common burial ground according to a basically similar burial style, and that the great majority of burial ob jects were ornaments and pottery used in daily life. The maximum number of burial objects in any one of the seventyone graves containing such objects at Banpo was ten, the minimum one, and the average 4.3.

Although by that time, people’s livelihood had improved somewhat, it was still very difficult. According to the result of a survey of human bones at the Yuanjunmiao site, the people of the time were afflicted with bonecompression spurs because of the excessively heavy burdens they had to bear. And because their food was coarse and they had to expend a lot of energy in chewing, their lower jaws were still more sturdy than those of modern man and their teeth show serious wear and tear. The remains in the various grave groups reveal that the life expectancy of the majority was only around thirty or forty years, and that there was a high rate of infant mortality. Because the level of the productive forces was still very low, and the means of livelihood very limited, it was only possible for them to maintain such an arduous, poor life for members of the clan by living, producing and consuming in common.

The Patriarchal Clan Society of the Longshan Culture

Approximately 5,000 years ago, the tribes of the Huanghe River and Changjiang (Yangtze River) valleys gradually entered the era of the patriarchal clan commune. In general, the Longshan, Qijia, Qujialing, Qingliangang, Liangzhu and Dawenkou tribal cultural remains belong to this period.

The Longshanoid tribes were widely distributed, from the seacoast in the east to the middle reaches of the Weishui River in the west, from the Bohai Gulf coastline of the Liaodong Peninshula in the north to the northern parts of Hubei , Anhui and Jiangsu in the south. The principal area was Henan , Shandong and Hebei , the southern part of Shanxi , and the Weishui River basin in Shaanxi . Taken as a whole, it was greater in extent than the Yangshao culture, and the regional dif ferences were more pronounced. Tribes belonging to the Qijia culture lived on the upper reaches of the Huanghe River in the eastern part of Gansu and the northeastern part of Qinghai . The stone implements and pottery from the late New Stone Age sites found in Tibet have an affinity to those of Qijia; the jade bi (a piece of jade for ceremonial purposes) and jade beads of the New Stone Age cultural remains of the Wusuli River basin in the Northeast are also similar to those of the Huanghe River basin. The Qujialing culture was distributed mainly in the Hanshui River basin in Hubei , while the Qingliangang culture was scattered along the lower reaches of the Changjiang River , principally within what is now Jiangsu Province . The Liangzhu culture extended along the lower reaches of the Qiantang River and the area around Lake Taihu . The Dawenkou culture was scattered mainly throughout Shandong and the northern parts of Jiangsu and Anhui .

Production reached new levels of development, especially in agriculture and animal husbandry, during the Longshanoid period. The rise in handicraft levels was marked by the introduction of the potter’ s wheel and by the beginning of the metallurgical manufacture of cop, per. Two new agricultural tools appeared at this time: the wooden fork and the stone or clamshell sickle. It was discovered that by using a stone or clamshell sickle with handle attached, a change could be made from picking the ears of grain to harvesting it with the stems connected. This raised labour efficiency and made it possible to bring in fodder for the livestock. The development of Longshanoid agriculture is also reflected in the increase in the numbers of reaping tools. At some sites in Hebei , Henan and Shaanxi , reaping tools in the form of stone knives have been found in numbers roughly equal to those of tools for clearing and planting, as represented by the stone axe and stone spade. In some places the reaping tools even outnumber the clearing and planting tools by two to four times. There was also an improvement in the stone knives, which became broader, longer and sharper. By way of contrast, among the argicultural implements of the Yangshao culture, clearing and planting tools normally outnumbered reaping tools by a couple of times. The increase and improvement in the Longshanoid culture’s reaping tools indicate the better harvests in that period.

The tribes of the Qujialing, Qingliangang and Liangzhu cultures living on the middle and lower reaches of the Changjiang opened up the grasscovered marshy regions, turned them into paddy fields, and planted rice.

The numbers and variety of domesticated animals also increased in this period. Herds of pigs and dogs were raised everywhere, and there were cattle and goats as well as horses and chickens. The bones of livestock excavated from twentysix firepits of the Longshanoid culture at Miaodigou, Shanxian County, Henan, are more plentiful than those from 168 Yangshao firepits; among them, pig bones are especially numerous. Bones from twentyone pigs were excavated from a single firepit in Jiangou, Handan County, Hebei. More than onethird of a total of 133 graves excavated at Dawenkou yielded pig bones which had been interred with the corpses, the richest tomb in this respect yielding fourteen pig skulls. Of the domesticated animals, pigs have the advantage of reproducing quickly and of tolerating coar se food. The growth of pig raising provided a source of meat for man and made him less reliant on hunting.

Livestock raising had already become a new means of livelihood and it gradually took on increasing importance in economic life. While participating in agricultural labour, the males also devoted themselves to animal husbandry and thus the acquisition of means of livelihood became a primarily male affair. The products from such pursuits accrued more to the males, while the women were confined to labouring chiefly within the household. It was these herds that became the major private property of the patriarchal family.

The huntingfishinggathering economy served as a supplementary means of livelihood and underwent development to varying degrees. Of the hunting implements discovered, the stone, bone and shell arrowheads are highly polished, but in specific areas we still find a few struck flint ones. People of the Liangzhu culture of Shuitianfan at Hangzhou and Qianshanyang in Wuxing, Zhejiang, were already using fishing boats to go out into open waters to fish on a relatively large scale.

At the time under discussion, the potter’s wheel had already been created. The clay was fashioned into containers by using the force of the rapidly spinning wheel. Pottery made this way was regular in shape and of even thickness, but a more important result was the sharp rise in productivity. The structure of the pottery kilns had also been perfected and people had mastered the technique of sealing them. High temperatures and sealing caused the reduction of the ferrites in the fired blanks, giving rise to a greycoloured pottery. The wheelthrown pottery of the Shandong Longshanoid clans was particularly welldeveloped. Because the blanks were polished, the kilns were tightly sealed, and the smoke was intentionally allowed to colour it, the fired pottery was pitchblack, with a glossy surface. Black pottery could even be made which was thin as eggshell. And kaolin clay was used to fire a small number of tripod pitchers with a very white surface.

The metallurgical industry was one of the outstanding production accomplishments of the patriarchal clan period. Copper tablets have been discovered at the Dacheng Mountain site near Tangshan in Hebei and such things have also been discovered in some quantity in several dwelling sites and graves of the Qijia culture which came a bit later than that of Longshan. Copper products knives, awls, chisels and rings and fragments of copper utensils have been found at Huangniangniangtai in Wuwei County in Gansu. Copper daggers, awls and rings have also been found at Qinweijia and Dahezhuang in Linxia County, Gansu. All these items were made of very pure copper; there were small amounts of impurities, but no tin or lead was added in the working process. Such copper was relatively soft and could be directly hammered into various kinds of tools and ornaments. Copper is malleable and can be shaped at will and even recast, and is thus much superior to stone. The discovery of copper marks a break with the several tens of thousands of years of stone tool technology of primitive Chinese society; it was a creative new technology which brought about a fresh rise in the productive forces. Making copper implements in volved a series of steps mining, smelting, hammering, pattern making and casting which required much more complex production techniques than did the making of either stone implements or pottery. People came to specialize in this profession, furthering the division of handicraft labour. As those who turned out the copper utensils came to know the properties of metals, they also opened the road for subsequent metal manufacture.

At the time of the patriarchal clan communes, people still lived under a primitive communal system with collective ownership and sharing, and the clans were still held together by blood ties. In the layout of the clan settlements, the dwellings and the cellars are still tightly interknit and there are common graveyards close to the dwelling areas. The common burial grounds of the clans are especially ordered and best reflect the characteristics of the clan system. The clan gravesite of the Longshanoid culture at Miaodigou is situated on the western edge of the site. Within an area of something over 1,100 square metres, 145 graves are laid out, aligned northsouth, the heads of the dead pointing invariably to the south. The public burial ground of the Qijia culture at Qinweijia has more than a hundred graves in six northsouth rows and the heads of the dead all face northwest. Somewhat over twenty metres to the east is a smaller burial area with three eastwest rows and twentynine graves, the heads of the deceased all facing west. These arrangements suggest that the different clans adhered strictly to their own traditional customs for burying the dead and that the members of the clans did not easily leave their own clans under normal circumstances.

An important symbol of the patriarchal clan commune was the appearance in marriage relations of a more firm and enduring system of monogamy, with succession fixed through the male line. By that time they had adopted the formula of joint burial after death. There are quite a few joint graves of adult men and women at the Dawenkou cultural site and they are also found at the Longshanoid Hengzhencun site in Huayin County, Shaanxi . In the joint graves of the Qijia culture at Qinweijia, the males are invariably on the righthand side, stretched out, their faces upward, while the females are always on the left, reclining on their sides facing the males, legs flexed. This burial style seems to show that the males were in the dominant position and the females in a position of submission and dependence.

In the separate conjugal families, the diverse household chores had been transformed from the previous service to the commune to a kind of service to the individual this marks them off completely from the matriarchal households. It has been discovered that in the graves of the Dawenkou culture at Dawenkou, Liulin and Dadunzi of Pixian in Jiangsu, all those whose heads are ornamented have spinning wheels, while those without ornaments have more production tools. In the graves of Majiayao culture discovered at Liuwan in Ledu County in Qinghai, the majority of the burial objects with the males are ground stone axes, adzes, knives and chisels, while themajority of those with the females are pottery or stone spinning wheels, and bone awls and needles. These things all give expression to the division of labour between males and females, the women being excluded from social production and hence losing their previous social status. What is more, pottery and stone sculptures symbolizing male ancestor wor ship have been found at the Longshanoid sites at Keshengzhuang in Xi’an and Quanhucun, Huaxian County in Shaanxi, and the Qijia culture site at Zhangjiazui, Linxia County in Gansu . This too is an important sign of the formation of the patriarchal clan.

The patriarchal clan commune represented a transitional social stage between primitive communal and slave society. Private ownership, polarization between rich and poor, class division, and the pos session of slaves all made their appearance in the patriarchal clan commune period. As we have noted, the most important item of private property at the time was the livestock herd. It was the fashion for tribes in various places to use pig palate bones as a yardstick for measuring wealth. The private wealth which people accumulated while alive went into their graves as burial objects after their death. About onethird of 133 Dawenkou culture graves have pig skulls in them, the maximum number being fourteen. In a few graves belonging to the Dawenkou culture at Gangshangcun, Tengxian County, and Yaoguanzhuang, Weifang City in Shandong, there were also unequal numbers of pig palate bones. Fourteen such bones were found in a grave belonging to the Longshanoid culture at Qinglongquan, Yuan xian County in Hubei, thirtysix pieces were placed in a grave be longing to the Qijia culture at Dahezhuang and sixtyeight pieces were discovered in a grave at Qinweijia. Pig bones in varying numbers have also been found in graves in other places. This shows both that the pigs were owned personally by the grave occupant while alive and that the accumulation of personal property had already reached substantial proportions.

The beginning of private ownership was accompanied by polarization between rich and poor. Some wealthy people used grain to brew alcohol. A set of wine containers such as tripod pitchers, kettles and longstemmed cups discovered in a Dawenkou grave testifies to this situation. There is a clearer reflection of this division between rich and poor and of the inequality in property in the Dawenkou burial grounds. The burials of the wealthy were very extravagant and the pits very big more than four metres long and three metres wide. The pits were lined with wood, wooden floors were laid to form outer coffins, and some of the coffin bases were daubed with red pigment. The wealthy had fifty or sixty burial objects the richest more than 160 including elegant painted, jetblack and pure white pottery, delicate production tools, and various kinds of ornaments made of polished stone and bone. Some graves also had ivory combs and containers with perforated patterns carved in them. In contrast to the lavish burials of the wealthy, of the 133 graves already excavated at Dawenkou, eighty employ only common production tools and household utensils as burial objects, and eight have no burial objects at all. In graves of the same age and style excavated at Liuwan, differences in size and great disparities in number of grave objects also appear. The differences in the number of grave objects and their presence or absence, are a record of the wealth possessed by the grave occupants during their lifetimes, a reflection of the division into poor and wealthy, and evidence that some people expropriated the fruits of others’ labour and made them their own.

In the patriarchal clans, relations of bondage were taking root. At the Huangniangniangtai site, one joint adult grave was discovered, containing one male and two females. The male lay face upward in the middle with a female on either side; both females lay on their sides facing the male with limbs bent, the lower limbs behind them and their two hands in front of their faces. In graves belonging to the Qijia culture at Liuwan, some males lay in coffins, face upwards with their limbs straight, while young females lay on their sides outside the coffins, their limbs bent and facing towards the males. The women in these graves, whether their relations with the males were conjugal or not, were obviously in a subordinate position and seem to have been in the status of slaves.

Oracle bones have been discovered in many of the Longshan and Qijia culture sites. They are the result of a method of divination which used fire to scorch the upper surface of pig, oxen or sheep scapulae to produce cracking patterns which were then used to determine good or bad fortune. The development of this kind of activity later led to the emergence of sorcerers who specialized in divination, becoming daily more divorced from physical labour. Their activities probably were not limited to making entreaties to nature, but may also gradually have assumed the character of class oppression.