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River Changes Ended Hemudu Neolithic Culture, Experts Say

Chinese archeologists say the deterioration of water environment contributed to the disappearance of a Neolithic culture in east China's Zhejiang Province.

The Hemudu Neolithic site, covering an area of 40,000 square meters (47,839 square yards), can be dated back 7,000 years. However, it ended abruptly about 2,000 years later.

The former curator of Hemudu Museum, Shao Jiuhua, says at least two floods occurred during the Neolithic period. The second not only washed away the inhabitants' houses, but also forced the course of a local river eastward to the ocean.

Shao says, large quantities of woodpiles and posts lying in a crisscross fashion in a 2,800-square-meter (3,349 square yards) area of the historical site give strong evidence of a flood. A silt layer which becomes thicker eastward makes additional proof.

As a result of the change of the river course, seawater poured on to local farms twice a day. The land eventually became too salty for crops, which forced the residents to leave.

Archeologists have found over 6,700 artifacts at the Hemudu Neolithic site, ranging from production tools to art works. The Hemudu culture is seen as one the beginnings of Chinese civilization.

(Xinhua News Agency January 5, 2002)

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