In a study just published in the journal Antiquity, researcher Li Jaang of Zhengzhou University and colleagues from the Shaanxi Province Institute of Archaeology and the University of California Los Angeles argue that the newly uncovered Shimao site reveals clear, early evidence of a highly elaborate civilization in an area of China long assumed to have merely a peripheral habitation area.

When peripheries were centres: a preliminary study of the Shimao-centred polity in the loess highland, China

Li Jaang, Zhouyong Sun, Jing Shao and Min Li, Published online: 22 August 2018

Chinese civilisation has long been assumed to have developed in the Central Plains in the mid to late second millennium BC. Recent archaeological discoveries at the Bronze Age site of Shimao, however, fundamentally challenge traditional understanding of ‘peripheries’ and ‘centres’, and the emergence of Chinese civilisation. This research reveals that by 2000 BC, the loess highland was home to a complex society representing the political and economic heartland of China. Significantly, it was found that Later Bronze Age core symbols associated with Central Plains civilisations were, in fact, created much earlier at Shimao. This study provides important new perspectives on narratives of state formation and the emergence of civilisation worldwide.