Sanmenxia is a prefecture-level city that sits along the middle reaches of the Yellow River, which connects China's central plain with the Northwest, an area that is bestowed with scenic landscapes. Thanks to its unique location, Sanmenxia has absorbed various cultures and at the same time has given birth to its own distinct local civilization, known as Xiaohan culture. It is also represented by Yangshao culture, Yellow Emperor Tripod Casting culture, Guo culture, Laozi culture, Bodhidharma culture, Pillar culture, Kom Tong culture and Xiaohan War culture.
Yangshao culture, the origin of Chinese civilization, is the first named archaeological discovery excavated in China. Yangshao culture was discovered by Swedish geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson in 1921. It was named after its excavation location, Yangshao village, Mianchi county, Sanmenxia city.
Yangshao culture was spread along the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River with a history of 5,000 to 7,000 years. It was characterized by ceramics decorated with colored drawing. The discovery of Yangshao culture put an end to the saying that Chinese culture originated from the west. In addition, it began the history of Chinese field archaeology.
Yellow Emperor culture
The Yellow Emperor Tripod Casting culture site is located in Yangping town in the city of Lingbao. A total of 50 cultural sites during the early Yangshao era were distributed there around a radius of 300 square kilometers. It covers area of 4.36 square kilometers. A large number of historic collections have been discovered in Yangping by archaeologists.
The Records of the Grand Historian, History of the Han Dynasty, A mirror for the wise ruler recorded that the Yellow Emperor once cast a tripod here with the wishes to go to heaven. Research of the Yellow Emperor Tripod Casting cultural site plays a vital role in exploring the origins of Chinese civilization. The site was listed in the fifth batch of national key cultural relic protection units in 2001 and was one of the 'National Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries' in 2006.
Guo was one of the key vassal states of the early Western Zhou Dynasty (c. 11th century–771 BC). It has had a major impact on Chinese culture and history. In the 1950s, a cemetery from the State of Guo was discovered in Shangcunling near Sanmenxia and the Yellow River Reservoir. It contained more than 250 tombs of the nobility -- including two monarchs, one first lady and two princes.
The discoveries of Guo Cemetery in Sanmenxia and the site of Shangyang city made the list of the 100 Chinese Major Archaeological Discoveries in the 20th Century.
A series of significant cultures including the Chariots and Horses culture, Jade culture and Iron culture were established during the Guo State’s history, which lasted for over 400 years.
An iron sword with a jade handle and bronze heart unearthed in Gao Cemetery demonstrates a 200-year-old form of iron smelting in China. It was nicknamed “the first sword of China.”
Laozi was a philosopher in ancient China who was born in Ku county of the State of Chu. Laozi was an older contemporary of Confucius and worked as an archivist in the Imperial Library of the Zhou Dynasty court. He wrote one of the most famous literary works of Chinese philosophy, the Tao Te Ching.
The text is fundamental to both philosophical and religious Taoism and coveres various fields including philosophy, economy, military and art. Its influence has also spread widely outside East Asia. It is amongst the most translated works in world literature.
There are over 2,000 foreign and Chinese works based on the Tao Te Ching, the so-called “crystallization of oriental wisdom,” to date. It is the most translated and influential work in the West other than the Bible.
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 6th century AD. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an to China and is regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. Kongxiang Si was Bodhidharma's burial temple. Bodhidharma is revered as the father of Ch'an and Zen Buddhism. Most people involved in Ch'an, Zen or Buddhism know that the word Ch'an is a rendition of the Pali word Jhana,
Kom Tong culture
Kom Tong is well known as a symbol of Duke Zhao. Duke Zhao was an important member of the Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-771 BC). He was the son to King Wen of Zhou and the brother to King Wu. He played a major role in consolidating the kingdom established by his father and brother and was renowned in Chinese history for acting as a capable and loyal regent for King Cheng and King Kang. He is a famous philosopher, politician, and founder of the civil servant concept. His civil servant concept has had significant and profound influences on Confucianism.
Xiao Han War culture
The unique position of Sanmenxia -- with the Yellow River to the north; Xiao Mountain to the south; Mian Eritrea, the Hanggu Pass and the Tong Pass to the east -- makes it a haven of splendid war culture. There are war relics retained in Sanmenxia in places such as the Chu pits, Hangu Pass, Kaifangkou and Fangbodui.
Two-hundred meters downstream from Sanmenxia Dam, a megalith towers in the raging tide of the Yellow River. It is still standing magnificently after thousands of years and is considered a symbol of China’s indomitable spirit.