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Ancient Feminism

Discovering the Banpo History Museum

June 16, 2018

6000 years ago, there were matriarchal villages spread around ancient China. They consisted of only women and children...

The Banpo village shown below is the only one excavated in Xi'an, and the most well-preserved. It was discovered by accident in the 1950's when a company wanted to build a factory there. The Chinese government decided to preserve the site and create a museum to preserve the history. The inside of the museum reveals the original grounds of the matriarchal village:

Our tour guide explained to us that men would come from outside the village would come stay for a night and then leave.

Mothers and babies stayed in a main hut in the center while the single women stayed in their own huts surrounding the site. The entire village could only be accessed via a land bridge because the village was surrounded by a dry moat that the women dug with their bare hands!

The dry moat surrounding the Banpo village, dug by hand!

One of the women's houses, burial jar in the back.

Unfortunately, it was extremely rare for babies to make it to becoming a toddler. When babies passed away, the mothers would put them in burial pottery jars and keep them inside their huts so their souls would not be lonely. Nearly 85 burial jars were found just in this one village.

The most eery part of the museum is the room full of skeletons...Pottery was extremely valuable to the Banpo women, so whenever someone died, they also buried their pottery with them.

The four female skeletons shown here were buried together because the women all died around the same time. The Banpo were buried with pottery because they believed their souls would need the pottery to prepare food and eat in the afterlife.

We asked our tour guide why the village was all women. "They realized they could do everything without the men living there: build, raise children, hunt, cook, and defend themselves together," our tour guide responded.

All the women in our tour group smirked. That's the coolest part about the history of this village, the matriarchal way they lived. However, it was later discovered that men were physically stronger and a village could last longer if both sexes worked together in harmony as families.

The Banpo village is quite a sight to see if you're interested in the prehistoric era, but make sure you have an English tour guide to get the most out of it!



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