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Is Chinese civilisation really 5,000 years old?


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Poll: Chinese history: 5,000 years? (107 member(s) have cast votes)

Chinese history: 5,000 years?

  1. Yes (counting from Huang Di) (53 votes [49.53%])

    Percentage of vote: 49.53%

  2. No - more like 4,075 (from Xia) (18 votes [16.82%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.82%

  3. No - more like 3,605 (from Shang) (14 votes [13.08%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.08%

  4. No - more like 3,305 (from Pan Geng of the Shang) (5 votes [4.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.67%

  5. No - more like 2,026 (from the Qin unification) (3 votes [2.80%])

    Percentage of vote: 2.80%

  6. Depends how you define 'Chinese', 'history' and 'civilisation' (please elaborate) (14 votes [13.08%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.08%

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#76 whipsandchains

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 11:31 AM

Could they make a connection between these ancient pictogramms and modern Chinese characters? Do you have some examples? :)

Yes, and also check ISBN 0-201-57009-2
China: Empire of Living Symbols by Cecilia Lindqvist.
This provides a very nice introduction into the topic and has lots of pictures *yay*
I highly recommend this book if you're interested.
Here, I've provided some samples:

Posted Image
This one obviously is sun and moon

Posted Image
To divine, foretell

Posted Image
From top to bottom:
follow
to turn, change
to compare, measure yourself against
behind, at the back, north

Posted Image
Turtle

Edited by whipsandchains, 18 May 2007 - 11:33 AM.


#77 fcharton

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:09 PM

But that's Jiaguwen, ie Shang, and probably relatively late-Shang script. That these are connected to modern characters makes no doubt, as the examples you posted show. What Tibet Libre asked about was the 4000 year ago (ie Xia or supposedly so) carvings found on potteries.

Francois

#78 whipsandchains

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 12:29 PM

But that's Jiaguwen, ie Shang, and probably relatively late-Shang script. That these are connected to modern characters makes no doubt, as the examples you posted show. What Tibet Libre asked about was the 4000 year ago (ie Xia or supposedly so) carvings found on potteries.

Francois

oh, he meant the Xia/Erlitou. My mistake, can't really help there. But still, Lindqvist's book is still a good book IMO if anyone is interested.

Edited by whipsandchains, 18 May 2007 - 12:30 PM.


#79 Richard Lim

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 02:22 PM

Anyone has more details on the topic treated in this news article claiming Chinese characters go back 8000 years give or take?

http://news.bbc.co.u...fic/6669569.stm
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#80 fcharton

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Posted 18 May 2007 - 04:42 PM

I think there was a discussion on a similar subject last year... Same kind of story, characters carved on cliffs in the northwest, claimed to be a proof that chinese characters existed N thousand years ago (insert N, needs to be > 4...), and no later follow up. The last comment about characters being discovered in Henan which are 4500 years ago (ie Erlitou or before) sounds a bit like the story discussed above.

In my opinion, the main problem with all these assessments is that, as chinese script is partially pictographic (characters are drawings of the things they represent), it is very difficult to decide whether a drawn shape on an old artefact, or a drawing in a cave is just a drawing or a pictogram (ie writing).

For instance, the old character for the sun is a circle, and the moon is a crescent. Now, most people (including 3 years old kids) who draw a sun and a moon, will draw a circle and a crescent. So, if you see a crescent shaped carving on a cliff in Europe, you'd go: "oh! a drawing of the moon", whereas if you see it in China, you'd go "oh, an archaic version of the character 月, which pushes back the origin of chinese language (and civilisation, and ...) by X 000 years" (X > 1)... And as there are many such simple shapes in ancient characters, the temptation to see chinese writing in any set of drawn shapes found in China does exist. But, so long these inscriptions cannot be deciphered, claiming them as a language, and claiming the similitudes in shape as a proof, seems a little rash.

So, maybe it is better to wait for some assessment of this piece of news, if it is such an important discovery, we'll soon hear a lot about it... Else, well, it just will be yet another big claim which fails to materialise.

Francois

#81 nicholas

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 05:30 AM

so...it is 5000 yrs old adding the legend of San Huang Wu di inside?

#82 kaiselin

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Posted 18 November 2007 - 01:13 PM

It is my opinion that myth has to count. We have just not found the evidence yet of these ancient civilizations.

I also am not sure I totally agree with the definition of what civilization consists of. [ but that is only my humble opinion.]

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#83 Chu-Yiu

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 09:05 AM

Do you know anything about the meaning of Yao's name 垚 (the more ancient written form of this character, without bottom strokes)? Does "Three Earth" have any historical meaning?
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#84 Guest_Liu Bang_*

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 09:17 AM

Dear all,

In my opinion, I think probably in CHF we should standardize the time when History started from (anything, from San Huang Wu Di, Xia.....depends on you guys) so there wouldn't be too much debate or conflicts. And it would be easier for everyone.

Liu Bang

#85 Craig

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 02:57 PM

Dear all,

In my opinion, I think probably in CHF we should standardize the time when History started from (anything, from San Huang Wu Di, Xia.....depends on you guys) so there wouldn't be too much debate or conflicts. And it would be easier for everyone.

Liu Bang


It would be easier, but wouldn't reflect the changing situation. Discoveries of ancient polities are being made all of the time, so the question is still open to debate, I think.
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#86 shunyadragon

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 09:51 PM

the Erlitou site which some attribute to the Xia dynasty dates to around 2000-2100 B.C is definitely the beginning of Chinese civilization. 4000 years is my vote

saying Chinese civilization is only 3000 years is not giving your ancestors any credit for the sake of "objectivity"

even if Erlitou is not Xia, its still 4000 years old and clearly Chinese.


I consider the Erlitou and the Xia as one culture based on more recent lireature, and I will cite it if there is interest. I have reasons for stretching for ~5000 years, based on the evidence for the Hemudo and Majiban Cultures of the Lower Yangtze River Basin, especially around Lake Tai. There is reasonable continuum to the Lianzhu from here, and then Dawenkou, and to the Erlitou/Xia civilization.
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#87 mohistManiac

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 10:19 PM

I consider the Erlitou and the Xia as one culture based on more recent lireature, and I will cite it if there is interest. I have reasons for stretching for ~5000 years, based on the evidence for the Hemudo and Majiban Cultures of the Lower Yangtze River Basin, especially around Lake Tai. There is reasonable continuum to the Lianzhu from here, and then Dawenkou, and to the Erlitou/Xia civilization.


Can you cite it? I am always interested. I figured as much of what you've said but I don't know details about how they actually connect Xia and Erlitou except that it was earlier than Shang and the places are supposed to be where the recorded locations of the ancient Xia capital is. But Xia is not 5000 years ago and was adjusted to about 4000 years ago based on the findings. So 5000 years continuum would have to reach into the neolithic such as Liangzhu where Chinese civilization ought to have arisen with the creation/worship of totems fashioned into jade or other hard materials.
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#88 Gan

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 11:06 PM

Lately, I've been reading and hearing from others that China is 7,000 years old.

#89 SNK_1408

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:39 AM

From historical point of view, these ancient civilizations were paleolithic and neolithic civilizations, they're being far being called Chinese civilizations. So does Incas civilization was Ecuadorian, Peruvian, Argentinian, Bolivian civilizations?

As far as I can see, Chinese civilization can be trace back to Huandi and Hua tribes as origin of early Chinese civilization, and this was how ancient Chinese viewed it as well according to written records.
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#90 mohistManiac

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 02:03 AM

Lately, I've been reading and hearing from others that China is 7,000 years old.


The concreteness for that I think stems from agricultural sedentarization. Populations develop enough in numbers and expansion to be able to promote a secondary labor force large enough to engage in nonagricultural productions like building city walls. However, very labor intensive populations weren't institutionalized until later in China. Not only applicable to China but to all areas of agricultural importance like the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. This is why it isn't very good to go beyond the date of 6500 years ago at the most. Grains, grasses and molds have been in the making and spread throughout the earth at a time predating the emergence of hominid species so to say that food brought people together may not be substantial enough. However food domestication does provide the energy required for the rise of civilization which used human and animal forms of labor. Without food to eat there would be no people to organize. What lends more organization to people would have to be something along the lines of using legitimatized leaders to command a perpetually growing labor force for constant cultural productions in workshops or for monumental construction projects etc essentially transforming the civilization to become labor intensive for further purposes of politicization/taxation/hierarchical stratification. Erlitou would be a good bet at 4000 years due to its bronze productions but I think if the ritual vessels were plenty and of high quality nature then pushing Chinese civilization to 5000 years to the time of Liangzhu due to its consistently recognizable totems on jade ritual vessels is likewise a good bet. Maybe the human figure depicted on the Liangzhu Yue4 was the legendary Huang2 Di4 or someone similar in character.
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