[Ma-chia-yao]. Type site of the Majiayao culture, in Lintao Xian in the Tao River valley of Gansu, China. Majiayao remains are found as far west as Wuwei in Gansu and eastern Qinghai. On the evidence of a few radiocarbon dates, mostly in the latter part of the 4th millennium bc, Majiayao is regarded as the earliest stage of the western or Gansu branch of the Yangshao Neolithic. A few primitive metal implements from Majiayao sites offer the earliest hints of a Chalcolithic technology in China. Majiayao pottery designs, perhaps the finest known from the Chinese Neolithic, are painted in black only; most derive from running spiral patterns, though in some of the more attenuated and asymmetrical designs the spirals are well concealed (see Banshan). The Gansu Yangshao apparently resulted from a westward expansion of the older eastern branch of the Yangshao, but its exact history remains unclear. Some archaeologists believe Majiayao to be an offshoot of Miaodi-GOU, and a phase regarded as transitional between the two, named after the Gansu site of Shilingxia, has yielded a radiocarbon date (c3800 bc) in the same range as one obtained for Miaodigou. However, Miaodigou painted pottery designs include sophisticated running spiral patterns whose simpler forms are unknown in the eastern branch of the Yangshao but are staples of the Majiayao repertory in Gansu. It is therefore conceivable that Majiayao arose from some eastern Yangshao phase earlier than Miaodigou (e.g. Banpo) and then in return contributed to the formation of Miaodigou.