Banpo Village, Banpo Bowuguan in Mandarin, is a well preserved archaeological site just east of Xian in the Yellow River Valley, which carbon dating suggests, dates back to over 6,000 years ago. It is thought to be one of the oldest human settlements in China. This Neolithic village once consisted of a ditch, a defensive moat against animals and intruders as well as about 45 circular mud and wood houses with thatched roofs, that can be seen as the predecessors of later Chinese architecture. This prehistoric archaeological site is highly contrasted by the modern apartment and office buildings, busy roads and factories surrounding it and shows a gap spanning millennia. When entering the museum, it feels a bit like time travelling to when Chinese civilization began, with artfully crafted and painted pottery instead of the tacky souvenirs sold outside.
Daily utensils bring the simple lives of the Yangshao culture, the people that inhabited the fertile lands around Xian thousands of years ago, to life. Bone needles for sewing hemp clothes show what simple tools were used for everyday tasks, painted ceramics with markings display the importance of pottery and the early development of the Chinese language and stone axes and fish hooks give insight into different hunting methods. Although hunting and gathering was a big part of daily survival, the inhabitants of Banpo Village also engaged in farming, raising livestock and of course the aforementioned, beautifully decorated pottery. A large room at the center of the settlement hints at the importance of community and probably served as a shared meeting hall. Due to the women being buried with more artifacts, some archaeologists suggest that the society might have been matriarchal.
The Banpo Village museum opens daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the winter months and until 6 p.m. from March to the end of November. You can get there by taking the bus numbers 115, 241, 406 and 913 to the Banpo Bowuguan stop.