Collection Description

Tradition Name

Middle-Upper Yellow River Middle Neolithic

Tradition Description

The Middle-Upper Yellow River Middle Neolithic Tradition occurred from 7000-5000 BP. Initially centered on the Loess Plateau, it expanded throughout the middle Yellow River Basin and into the adjacent North China Plain. The people were egalitarian agriculturalists raising millet, pigs, and some chickens; a diet supplemented by hunting, fishing, and some gathering. A two- to three-tiered settlement hierarchy developed in some areas during the middle to late tradition, with increased signs of conflict. Cemeteries show evidence of community-based ancestor cults, and specialists in divination or shamanic rituals.


Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --East Asia



OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF Archaeology and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.

Overviews of the Yellow River Early Neolithic Tradition can be found in: Barton’s (2009) doctoral dissertation that analyzes diet at the site of Dadiwan; Peterson and Shelach (2010) for the early part of the tradition; and Zhang (2005) for all of eastern China. Overviews of some subtraditions can be found in Li (2013) for Miaodigou, and Liu and Chen (2012) for a number of subtraditions throughout eastern China and Taiwan.

Site reports, and accounts of other fieldwork, are found in Lee’s (1993) doctoral dissertation analyzing the museum collection for the Jiangzhai site, and in Ma (2005) which covers a regional survey near Lingbao, Henan, as well as excavations and faunal analysis at the site of Xipo.

Results of analyses of human remains can be found in: Gao and Lee (1993), who examine crania from the cemetery at Shijia for possible family relationships; and Pechenkina et al. (2002), examining human remains for clues to diet and health.

Several authors address sociopolitical organization, religion, and expressive culture. Lee (2007) explores evidence for segmentary social organization at the Banpo subtradition site of Jiangzhai. Liu (2000) examines mortuary rituals in a number of cemeteries. Zhang (1985) analyzes the Yuanjunmiao cemetery for evidence of social structure and status.

For further information on individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Sarah Berry

Bo – bowl or cup – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Ding – tripod cooking pot – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Dou – pedestal, pedestal vessel – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Guan – cylindrical jar – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Gui – hollow-legged pitcher – use "UTENSILS (415)" Doc 12: “gui ring foot bowl”

Hu – vase – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Mobang – hand-held grinding stone (used with a mopan) – use "FOOD PREPARATION (252)" with "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"; for grinding stones in general, use "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"

Mopan – stone slab for grinding food (used with a mobang) – use "FOOD PREPARATION (252)" with "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"

Pen – basin – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Yue – jade axe – use "ORNAMENT (301)"; also use "LITHIC INDUSTRIES (324)" and/or "GENERAL TOOLS (412)"

Zun – large-mouth urn – use "UTENSILS (415)"

Indexing Notes by

Sarah Berry

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