Yes, China Does Have 5,000 Years of History, 15-Year Study Confirms



Chinese archaeologists verified the long-held claim that the Middle Kingdom is 5,000 years old.

Time and again, Chinese officials and state media have asserted that the country holds 5,000 years of history, but such claim has since been disputed for the lack of hard evidence.

An ancient painting of siblings Nüwa (left) and Fuxi (right) unearthed in Xinjiang. They are two of the Three Sovereigns.

China reportedly traces this figure to the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, a group of mythological rulers now considered to be cultural heroes. They cover at least 2,000 years of legends.

A 1503 painting of Shennong, one of the Three Sovereigns, tasting herbs to discover their qualities.

The Three Sovereigns, also called the Three August Ones, were god-kings — demigods or god emperors — who helped improve people’s lives and handed them down essential knowledge. On the other hand, the Five Emperors were notable sages with great moral character who lived long and ruled in peace.

Last year, President Donald Trump even credited China with 8,000 years of history in an interview with The Economist.

Jade bi from the Liangzhu culture (3400–2250 BC). Image via Wikimedia Commons / (CC BY-SA 2.5)

But this week, researchers who investigated the origin and early development of Chinese civilization revealed that signs of a complex society emerged some 5,800 years ago in areas of the Yellow River, the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and the West Liao River in northeastern China, Xinhua reported.

For one, they discovered an inner city covering three million square meters in the ruins of Liangzhu, the last Neolithic jade culture in the Yangtze River Delta, dating back to 5,000 years.

“These societies were most likely to have had the form of a state. So we believe that the region where these states were located had entered the phase of primary civilization,” researcher Wang Wei said.

Butterfly-shaped ivory vessel with the pattern of two birds facing the sun, Hemudu culture (5500-3300 BC). Image via Wikimedia Commons / LukeLOU (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The study, which began in 2001 and ended in 2016, consisted of multidisciplinary studies on 90 years of archaeological evidence.

Researchers looked into the social division of labor, class differentiation, central cities, and compulsory power to highlight characteristics that define a civilization.

They found that various regions embraced civilization around 5,300 years ago, while a more matured civilization developed in the Central Plain area some 3,800 years back.

Interestingly, that matured society influenced surrounding areas and became the leader of China’s process of civilization.

The Loess Plateau, also called the Huangtu Plateau, is a 640,000-sq km (250,000 sq mi) area located around the Wei River valley and the southern half of the Ordos Loop of the Yellow River in central China. It is known to have formed one of the early cradle of the country’s civilization. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Till Niermann (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Researcher Zhao Hui believes that their work filled a gap in history.

“The origin and early development of the Chinese civilization were not directly recorded in written form. Thankfully we can now describe this period of the history.

“As the origin and early development of the Chinese civilization is an indispensable part of the origin and early development of human civilization in the world, it is safe to say that our work also filled a blank in world history.”

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