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How the ancient Maqiao civilization lived - August 04, 2017


ABOUT 3,500 years ago, when humans began settling in what is today Maqiao Town, they were blessed by the rich natural resources of lakes, grasslands, forest and sea. Sika deer, moose, and roebucks roamed the forests, and the sea provided boundless food. Hunting and fishing skills were highly developed.

Stones and bones were polished into dart-like weapons and arrowheads used in hunting and fishing. Stone sickles and hoes were also found among the relics.

With enough food to sustain them, these ancient people built houses from logs, branches, thatch and reeds. They also dug wells for fresh water. Some of them have been preserved to this day.

Gradually the civilization expanded into farming, growing food crops and raising animals like chickens, dogs and pigs for meat. In Maqiao, archeologists found evidence of 20 breeds of animals and seafood that once served as food sources.

The culture also created man-made ponds to raise fish. Such ponds, usually about 1.7 meters deep, have rarely been found in excavation sites of other primitive cultures in China.

To make their lives more comfortable, the Maqiao also made containers for food and drink. The most common was zhi, which was shaped somewhat like a vase, with a narrow neck, a wider middle and a round base. Plates, pots and cauldrons of all shapes also were unearthed.

The progress of the civilization didn’t end there. The desire to communicate and a curiosity about nature pushed them to develop writing and drawing. They carved images depicting the different seasons on their food vessels and carved symbols on pottery to convey messages.

In latter development, the civilization also made their clothes and decorated their houses.

Ornamentation came during the Xia (21th century BC-16th century BC) and Shang (1600-1046 BC) dynasties. Designs included clouds and storms.

Some of the timeline of the Maqiao culture has blank spots. There is an unexplained gap between about 1100 BC and 770 BC, when the civilization seemed to vanish for nearly four centuries. It later re-emerged, however.

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