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10 January 2004
House decoration lime used by prehistoric Chinese people

White lime used by prehistoric humans 5,000 years ago to bedeck their houses and their handprints on thewalls were discovered in the Yuchi Temple prehistoric site in east China's Anhui province. Located in Mengcheng county, Yuchi Temple site belongs to the later period of the Dawenkou Culture (approximately 5000 BCE - 2600 BCE), a late Neolithic culture.
     The white lime was spotted among the relics of red-earth houses."As no white lime was found on the wall, we can tell that the lime had been decorated on the ceiling," said a local archaeologist. Handprints of prehistoric humans were also available on part ofthe wall of a southeast-northwestern row of houses, only part of which were excavated and the number of the houses remain unknown."Those marks were left when the prehistoric people plastered mud on the wall," noted the archaeologist. Also a few utensils used to store food grains were unearthed at this site.
     "This is the thirteenth excavation of the prehistoric site. Our aim is to make clear the architectural layout of the whole site," said Wang Jihuai, a research fellow with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. According to Wang, the six discoveries include the excavation of house relics of the Longshan Culture (nearly 500 years after the Dawenkou Culture), a group of seven-legged fretwork vessels, well-preserved houses from the Dawenkou period, adult tombs with several funeral objects, relics of the composition of several large-mouth jars, and houses with inner rooms.
     "From the great quantity of drinking vessels unearthed at YuchiTemple, we draw the conclusion that in South China nearly 5,000 years ago, wine culture was already very popular," said Wang. At that time the site already had an embryonic form of a city and the handicraft industry had separated from agriculture.

Sources: China Daily, China View, Xinhua (7 January 2004)

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