Located at the eastern outskirts of Xian city, the Banpo Museum is the first on-site prehistoric museum in China. Banpo site is a typical Neolithic Matriarchal community of the Yangshao culture ( 5000-3000 BC) around 6000 years ago. About 400 sites of this type have been discovered around the Yellow River Basin and the Banpo site is the largest one.
The site was discovered in 1953 when constructing a power factory and the excavation work last four years from 1953 to 1957. The Banpo site was first opened to the public in 1958 and since then, two million people have visited it.
The Banpo site, occupying an area of approximate 50,000 square kilometer, was divided into three parts, residential area, pottery-making area and cemetery area. Among the ruins are 46 dwellings, 2 domestic animal pens and over 200 storage pits, 174 adult tombs, 73 burial jars for kids, 6 pottery-making kilns and many production and domestic tools. The site delivers visitors a vivid picture of the lifestyle of the primitive Banpo people a very long time ago.
The Banpo Museum consists of two Exhibition Hall and a site Hall. The First Exhibition Hall mainly displays the production tools used by the Banpo people, including stone knives, sickle, fishhook, specula and so on. These exhibits present visitors a general image of Banpo people's activities. Showpieces on the Second Exhibition Hall are major inventions and art items which reflects the fork culture, social life of that time. Masterpieces on this hall are Fish and Human Face Design Pottery Basin, Pointed Bottom Bottle, Pottery Streamer and Children's Burial Jar.
Fish and Human Face Design Pottery Painted Basin
It is the masterpiece of colored pottery painting discovered at the site. The basin was gracefully decorated with a design of fish and a human face. On its head, the hairs were well-pinned into a knot. A fish was held in each corner of its mouth. The design depicts close relation between Banpo people and fish, which probably the totem of them.
The Pointed-Bottom Bottle
The Pointed-Bottom Bottle is a characteristic pottery piece excavated from the Banpo site. It is a water-drawing device, in which the gravity law skillfully applied: for buoyancy the bottle will automatically slant and then be filled as the bottle touch the water. When the bottle has been filled with water, the bottle will also automatically stand upright during the shifting of center of gravity. The device enjoys two great advantages: 1, it can be portable and easily carried on the back. 2. its small mouth protects water from spilling out.
The Banpo people learned stream could used in cooking so they made the Pottery streamers to prepare food.
Children's Burial Jar
When a child was died, he was placed into a big pottery jar, which would then be covered by an earthen bowl or pottery basin. A hole was chiseled in the earthen bowl or pottery basin for religious reason. The pottery jar with the dead would then be buried in a pit, dug before just right besides the dwelling.