China, one of the world's most ancient civilizations, has a recorded history of nearly 4,000 years. "Yuanmou Man," a fossil anthropoid unearthed in Yuanmou in Yunnan Province, who lived about 1.7 million years ago, is China's earliest primitive human discovered to date. "Peking Man," who lived in the Zhoukoudian area near Beijing 600,000 years ago, was able to walk upright, make and use simple tools, and knew how to make fire. The Neolithic Age started in China about 10,000 years ago, and relics from this period can be found all over the country. Cultivated rice and millet as well as farming tools have been found in the remains of Hemudu in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, and Banpo, near Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province, respectively. These relics date back some 6,000-7,000 years.
The most ancient dynasty, the Xia Dynasty started in 2070 BC The center of Xia was the western part of modern Henan Province and the southern part of modern Shanxi Province, with a sphere of influence that reached the northern and southern areas of the Yellow River. It was in this period that slave society appeared and the next two dynasties, Shang (1600-1046 BC) and Western Zhou (1046-771 BC), saw it develop further. This era was followed by the Spring and Autumn (770-476 BC) and Warring States (475-221 BC) periods, characterized by the decline in power of the ruling house and power struggles between regional powers, marking the transition from slave to feudal society.
Chinese mastered the technology of smelting bronze approximately 5,000 years ago and iron tools came into use during the Shang Dynasty, 3,000 years ago. White and color-glazed ceramics were produced. Silk production was considerably developed and the world's first jacquard silk weaving technology appeared. During the Spring and Autumn Period steel production technologies came on the scene. During the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods, there was a great upsurge of intellectual activity, producing many famous philosophers, such as Lao Zi, Confucius, Mencius and Mo Zi, and the well-known military scientist Sun Wu, author of the Art of War.