Archaeological discoveries have proved that the Three Gorges area is a birthplace of Chinese civilization, experts said.
Yu Weichao, who is heading a group of archaeologists to save relics in the Three Gorges area, said that excavations have shown that human beings lived in the area more than 100,000 years ago.
Yu said the history of the Three Gorges area dates back to the Old Stone Age and covers all the following historical periods.
It has long been held that the Yellow River valley is the cradle of Chinese civilization.
However, Chinese archaeologists have discovered more than 50 sites of the Old Stone Age and three New Stone Age sites which feature a culture different from that of the Yellow River valley.
Several sites of the Ba Culture dating 4,000 to 5,000 years ago have also been found in the area.
The Three Gorges Project Construction Committee of the State Council has approved the protection of 1,074 historical sites and relics in the area.
According to the construction schedule of the project, 22 counties, cities and districts of Chongqing Municipality and Hubei Province, central China, will be flooded by the Three Gorges reservoir by around 2009.