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Ancient Earth

Yellow River

Cradle of Civilization in China

Civilization may have sprung forth in the East nearly 1,500 years after those in Mesopotamia and in Egypt and nearly 1,000 years after that in the Indus Valley, but the East Asians were fruitful not only in numbers, but in works—printing, gunpowder, silk and more.

Evidence of Neolithic man in China places Homo sapiens there between 12,000 and 10,000 BC. Signs of agriculture show up as early as 7000 BC giving rise to the Jiahu culture. By the late Neolithic, the Yellow River (Huang He) region became a major population center where we find evidence of villages. Pictographs in the form of 3,172 cliff carvings, found at Damaidi in Ningxia, have been dated to 6000–5000 BC.

The Yangshao culture of the upper Yellow River basin existed from about 5000 to 3000 BC. Agricultural activities included millet, some wheat and rice, plus chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, cattle and dogs. Around 3000 BC, in the same region, this culture was replaced by the Longshan.

The Longshan culture lasted about a thousand years and included much more refined pottery which included the use of pottery wheels. The first full-blown cities sprang up during this period with earthen walls and moats for protection. Evidence of the Longshan stretches from the previous Yangshao domain to the coast.

The first dynasty was that of the Xia (c. 2100 – c. 1600 BC), though there is some controversy surrounding its actual existence. Most of the evidence seems to come from later records which mention of its existence.

The Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC) also existed in the Yellow River basin. Its capital moved a total of six times during its history. The final move, in 1350 BC, was to a city called Yin. From here, the Shang Dynasty enjoyed its golden age. The so-called "Yin Dynasty" refers to the Shang's golden age. Numerous Shang Dynasty records were found at Anyang.

But there seems to be evidence of other cultures concurrent with the Shang. For instance, there seems to have been a technologically advanced society at Sanxingdui which was culturally quite different than anything at Anyang.

The Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC) sprang up west of the Shang, but soon took over when it defeated Shang forces at the Battle of Muye (1046 BC).

Notable Chinese Inventions

  • Wooden coffin c. 5000 BC
  • Cast iron c. 450 BC
  • Use of Chromium <= 210 BC
  • Printing c. 200 BC
  • First paper artifacts c. 150 BC
  • Compass c. 100 AD
  • First mention of a mixture like gunpowder c. 808 AD
  • Movable type c. 1000 AD

2012: Year of the Water Dragon

Dragons have been a part of myth for thousands of years and in many cultures, from Mesoamerica to Europe and from Egypt to China. One key difference between European dragons and those in China is that European dragons were considered evil, while Chinese dragons were considered to bring powerful luck. The English word, "dragon," comes from the Greek, "drakon," meaning "snake."

The earliest evidence of dragons in Chinese culture comes from Henan and the Yangshao culture—a statue dated to the fifth millennium BC (5000–4001 BC).

Besides bringing luck, Chinese dragons were said to control rain and, as such, could fly. But their ability to fly was not the result of any physical attribute like wings. Interestingly, this is similar in some respects to the Greek myths of dragons. The myth of Cadmus and the founding of Thebes mentions nothing about that dragon flapping wings or even having them, but when the battle ended with the mysterious soldiers who suddenly had appeared out of nowhere, the dragon was seen silently to float into the sky and drift away.

Could all dragons have been artificial? Could they have been aircraft that used some other force for lift—say anti-gravity or "warp" drive?

Possible Connection to Atlantis

Civilization started in six locations around the globe (Peru, Mesoamerica, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus Valley and Yellow River). Dragons were parts of the myths in at least four of those locations. Could civilization have been stimulated by a people who had just lost their own? Pre-existing knowledge of a technology is a powerful force for the re-establishment of that technology. And the art of civilization could arguably be called a "technology."

Atlantis was said to have been swallowed by the sea about 9600 BC. If they had such a technology, it would seem likely that they would have taken it with them to wherever they migrated. It also seems likely that they would have influenced the existing, local cultures with their civilizing ideas—burial, agriculture, pottery and similar foundational functions.

Perhaps the difference in Western and Eastern dragons can be explained by the personalities of the Atlantean descendants who piloted those snake-shaped aircraft. Right after the demise of Atlantis and likely for hundreds or even thousands of years, the children of Atlantis might likely have felt entitled to the spoils of the land. Later, when they migrated across Eurasia and into China, the grandchildren of Atlantis might have mellowed out, realizing that they are part of a larger whole. Perhaps they learned to give rather than merely to take.


  • 9600 BC—Atlantis sinks, according to Plato's "Timaeus" and "Critias"
  • 9500 BC—Ruins at Göbekli Tepe, Turkey
  • 9000 BC—Proto-Egyptian agriculture
  • 7500 BC—Earliest Çatal Höyük, Turkey
  • 7000 BC—Proto-Chinese agriculture
  • 4500 BC—Earliest Chinese dragon statue
  • 3100 BC—First Egyptian Dynasty & First Sumerian Writing
  • 2500 BC—Mature Indus Valley civilization
  • 1500 BC—Earliest Chinese writing

Somewhere in the midst of these dates, the stories of Chinese dragons were born. The earliest statue of a dragon in China dates to the fifth millennium BC. Could Atlantean dragon airship have migrated to China before this time, say 5000 BC? If dragons were greedy and destructive in Europe right after the demise of Atlantis, circa 9600 BC, then they would have had 4,600 years to cross all of Eurasia. That's plenty of time to mellow out.

More on the Atlantis Story

For more information on this intriguing subject, see Mission: Atlantis.


A d v e r t i s e m e n t s

The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)
by Mark Edward Lewis

The Qin and Han Dynasties constitute the "classical period" of China. From the development of a common script to the propagation of Confucian ideals, this was China coming of age.

The Ancient Chinese
by Virginia Schomp

For ages 10 and up (Grades 5 and up). Chinese society during the Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties. Learn about first emperor and the discovery of his tomb.

Ancient China
by Arthur Cottrell

Ages 8 and up (Grades 3 and up). DK Eyewitness Books presents stunning recreations of life in imperial China. See ancient bronze work, antique acupuncture needles and the first emperor's terra-cotta army.

Dragonology: 2012 Wall Calendar
by LLC Andrews McMeel Publishing

Based on the incredible Dragonology series of books. Each month highlights a different dragon. In this year of the dragon, a timely keepsake.

Llewellyn's 2012 Dragon Calendar
by Llewellyn + Anne Stokes

These fearsome beasts burst into life through the vivid artwork of Anne Stokes. In this year of the dragon, a timely keepsake.

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