The Dawenkou culture (Chinese: 大汶口文化; pinyin: Dàwènkǒu wénhuà) is a name given by archaeologists to a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in Shandong, but also appeared in Anhui, Henan and Jiangsu, China. The culture existed from 4100 to 2600 BC, co-existing with the Yangshao culture. Turquoise, jade and ivory artefacts are commonly found at Dawenkou sites. The earliest examples of alligator drums appear at Dawenkou sites.
Archaeologists commonly divide the culture into three phases: the early phase (4100-3500 BC), the middle phase (3500-3000 BC) and the late phase (3000-2600 BC). Based on the evidence from grave goods, the early phase was highly egalitarian. The phase is typified by the presence of individually designed, long-stemmed cups (gu). Graves built with earthen ledges became increasingly common during the latter parts of the early phase. During the middle phase, grave goods began to emphasize quantity over diversity. During the late phase, wooden coffins began to appear in Dawenkou burials. The culture became increasingly stratified, as some graves contained no grave goods while others contained a large quantity of grave goods.
The type site at Dawenkou, located in Tai'an, Shandong, was excavated in 1959, 1974 and 1978. Only the middle layer at Dawenkou is associated with the Dawenkou culture, as the earliest layer corresponds to the Beixin culture and the latest layer corresponds to the early Shandong variant of the Longshan culture. The physical similarity of the Jiahu people to the later Dawenkou (2600 BC±4300 BC) indicates that the Dawenkou might have descended from the Jiahu, following a slow migration along the middle and lower reaches of the Huai river and the Hanshui valley. According to some scholars, the Dawenkou culture may have a link with a pre-Austronesian language.
Some scholars have asserted that the racial type of the Dawenkou bore resemblance to the Polynesian cranium type, differing from the contemporary Yangshao, which resembled Southern Chinese, Indonesians, and some Indo-Chinese. Others suggested they were more similar to Southern Chinese and Southern Mongoloids. According to a 1989 study, which included samples from Dawenkou, during the neolithic some Australoid like-traits were present in populations of both northern and southern China.
- List of Neolithic cultures of China
- Yangshao culture
- Longshan culture
- Richard J. Pearson - this Canadian archaeologist has published extensively on Dawenkou burials and social status (see Selected Bibliography of Pearson).
- "Oldest playable musical instruments found at Jiahu early Neolithic site in China" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-19.
- Quests of the Dragon and Bird Clan By Paul Kekai Manansala.
- Sagart, Laurent. "The expansion of Setaria farmers in East Asia". academia.edu. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- Keightley, David (Jan 1, 1983). The Origins of Chinese Civilization. University of California Press. p. 125.
- Zhang, Zenbiao. "Physical patterns of neolithic skulls in China in view of cluster analysis". www.cnki.com. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Chen, Dezhen. "The taxonomy of neolithic man and its phylogenetic relationship to later paleolithic man and modern man in China". www.cnki.com. Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Academia Sinica. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
- Allan, Sarah (ed), The Formation of Chinese Civilization: An Archaeological Perspective, ISBN 0-300-09382-9
- Liu, Li. The Chinese Neolithic: Trajectories to Early States, ISBN 0-521-81184-8
- Underhill, Anne P. Craft Production and Social Change in Northern China, ISBN 0-306-46771-2