The most important Neolithic culture of China, distributed along the middle course of the Yellow River in north-central China and dated to c 5000-2700 BC. Large open settlements of circular or rectangular houses slightly sunk into the ground cluster along the loess river terraces. It is distinguished by millet agriculture, coarse and painted pottery, sedentary villages, and clans. Some marks on the pottery are thought to be the beginnings of writing; pottery was handmade, painted in black and red on a yellowish slip. At first, the designs were zoomorphic, then later became abstract, geometric, or curvilinear. Coarser red and grey wares were also common.