Today’s Deng Xiaoping 邓小平‘s birthday (22 Aug 1904). To commemorate this great person, I have compiled a 4-parts series of Shenzhen Museum posts about the past and present day Shenzhen, one of his greatest achievements.
Shenzhen sprung up like mushrooms after the summer rain, because of liberal economic policies which resulted in the Shenzhen Miracle. Shenzhen is not an ancient city like Nanjing or Beijing or Xian, where they have been past capitals of China. However many graves were turned inside out because of the development and many of these relics are now housed in Shenzhen Museum of History and Folk Culture.
Part One: The Predecessor’s Footmark (~5,000-221 BC) 先民足迹
This region is referred to historically as South of Wuling Ridges 五嶺-嶺南. It has a very long history of human existence since the discovery of the Maba Man 马坝人 that lived in the caves around 10,000 years ago. Around 7,000 years, they came down to coasts of Dapeng Bay 大鹏湾, Shenzhen and went from foraging and gathering to fishing and hunting and farming. These were the pioneers of Shenzhen.
I was surprised by the number of excavated tomb sites that dated to pre-Qin Dynasty period (221-206 BC) in Shenzhen. They were mostly not intentional excavations for archaeological studies. Most were dug out because of the rapid development of the area.
Neolithic Period 新石器时代
The Neolithic period, which began in China around 10,000 B.C. and concluded with the introduction of metallurgy about 8,000 years later (2,000 BC), was characterized by the development of settled communities that relied primarily on farming and domesticated animals rather than hunting and gathering.
Most of these Neolithic relics are fragments of pottery pots and utensils that have been reconstructed to represent their original functions. I would not been able to identify any of them even if I dig some out of the grave.
And you can see the development of the pottery skills, decorations and glaze as the period developed. Toward the late period, there’s even oven grates that were unearthed from these excavation sites, which consisted mainly of graves.
Spring & Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and the Warring States Period (476-221 BC) 春秋战国
The Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Period were important for the development of the ancient Yue 越 culture in Lingnan 岭南. Historically, this region was referred to as Nanyue 南越 and was assimilated in to the Qin State together with Sichuan (which was known then as Bashu 巴蜀）.
The people of Yue were using stepped stone adze, double-shouldered stone axes during the Neolithic Age.
In newer burial sites near Dameisha 大梅沙, bronze wares were mainly weapons indicating that the society were mainly warriors. Pottery unearthed also exhibited impressive geometric designs.
302 tombs from pre-Qin period were excavated in 2000 around Hengling Mountain. Unearthed articles included hard potteries with impressed designs decorated with trellis and koi-dragon patterns, primitive porcelain wares, bronze ware and jade articles.
The Neolithic site of Xiantouling 咸头岭 and Shang Dynasty tombs in Wubeiling 屋背岭 located in Dapeng and Nanshan Districts pushed back the history of Shenzhen by at least 7,000 years.