added by archaeologs [Yang-shao]. A site in Mianchi Xian, western Henan province, China, that has given its name to one of the two broad divisions of the Chinese Neolithic, also called the Painted Pottery Neolithic (the other is the Longshan or Black Pottery Neolithic). The Yangshao site itself is an unimportant representative of a late phase. More notable is Banpo in Shaanxi, where radiocarbon dates spanning the 5th millennium bc have been obtained for a village displaying the characteristic Yangshao economy based on millet cultivation and domesticated dog and pig. Radiocarbon dates from recently excavated sites in Hebei, Henan and Shaanxi suggest that elements of this economy may reach back to the 6th or 7th millennium bc (see Banpo). Yangshao villages have houses with sunken floors or, later, wattle-and-daub houses at surface level. The most typical pottery shapes are bowls, urns and amphorae; tripod vessels are rare and hollow-legged tripods (xian, li, and gui) unknown. The finest pots carry painted designs while unpainted pots are often cord-marked. The Yangshao cultures fall into two main regional subgroups. A western branch centred on the Tao River valley in Gansu includes Majiayao, Banshan and Machang; these are distinguished on the basis of their painted pottery, though continuing discoveries of ‘intermediate’ types have tended to blur the distinctions. Nearer to central North China is the eastern branch, which is centred in the Wei, Jing and Yellow River valleys and includes Banpo and Miao-digou. The earliest radiocarbon dates come from the eastern branch, and stratigraphy at sites in Gansu suggests that the Gansu Yang-shao is a westward extension from the older eastern branch (see Majiayao). Beginning in the late 4th millennium bc the Yangshao cultures were transformed by influences moving westward from the east coast (see Longshan, sense 3). Chief among their successors were Hougang II in Henan, Kexingzhuang II in Shaanxi, and Quia in Gansu. These cultures were all closely related and all were products of cultural mixing. The characteristic Yangshao painted pottery was virtually extinguished, leaving only a few remote and impoverished survivals (see Quia).
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983