Ancient culture had exchanges with distant societies

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An ancient culture dating back more than 5,000 years witnessed China's early exchanges with other societies, experts say.


Scholars believe the Majiayao culture had well-established contact with various other cultures, they said at a recent symposium held in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture, Northwest China's Gansu province.

The Majiayao culture is based in the upper reaches of the Yellow River and its tributaries. With more than 5,000 years of history, it forms a significant part of the origin of the Chinese civilization.

Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson first investigated cultural ruins in 1924. In the 1940s, prominent Chinese archaeologist Xia Nai named the ruins after the Majiayao, with painted pottery as its most striking feature.

This culture spread to Central Asia via what is now China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, bringing millet from China to the west, says Han Jianye, a history professor with Renmin University of China.

Decorations with Central Asian features also appeared on the painted pottery items of the Majiayao, in addition to sheep and cattle from the west, Han adds.

The Majiayao culture also had interactions with the Harappan culture of India. Similarities are clear from the items from the two sites, says Tang Huisheng, a professor from Hebei Normal University.

Some experts point out that the Majiayao culture also shares similarities with the Cucuteni-Tripolye culture of the western and the northern parts of the Black Sea regarding decorations and shapes of painted ceramics.

"The two cultures thrived and declined around the same time," says Li Xinwei, a researcher from the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "People from the two cultures also used pottery to make human head statues."

In recent years, efforts have been enhanced to protect the Majiayao culture by building thematic museums, organizing academic symposiums, and conducting more research.

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