Rice is one of humankind’s most important food crops. Over 10,000 years ago when people in West Asia were domesticating barley and wheat, the early Chinese people began to collect and plant wild rice seeds, marking Chinese civilization's first step out of the caves and into the wilderness. Ever since, having traveled a great journey stretching more than 10,000 years, small rice seeds have been spread to all corners of the world with the footsteps of humankind. Today, over 125 million hectares of rice blankets the earth, occupying 9% of the global farming area and feeding more than half of the world’s population. The development of rice farming has fundamentally changed the way humans produce and live.
The earliest rice culture sites in the world are concentrated in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. Beginning in November 2000, archaeologists excavated the world’s earliest known remains related to rice cultivation, settlements and a large number of painted pottery remains in Pujiang County, Zhejiang Province. The remarkable archaeological discoveries at the Shangshan Site provide exceptional proof that the site was the birthplace of global rice farming, as well as an important starting point in the formation of Chinese civilization, one based on rice farming in the south and millet farming in the north. The Shangshan Culture that stemmed from the Shangshan Site in Pujiang has been known to archaeological circles ever since.
“Rice, Origin, Enlightenment: Special Exhibition of Shangshan Culture Archaeological Discoveries in Zhejiang” is jointly hosted by the National Museum of China (NMC), the Society for Chinese Archaeology, the Publicity Department of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the CPC and the Zhejiang Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism, with support from relevant institutions and authorities. Through nearly 200 artifacts from the early, middle and late Shangshan Culture, and supplemented by background information, reconstructions and multimedia, the exhibition aims to comprehensively reveal the production and life of East Asian rice culture represented by Shangshan Culture, which features the earliest carbonized rice, painted pottery in various forms, settlements, surrounding moats and other symbolic remains. It also vividly illustrates the great contributions made by the Chinese nation to rice farming.
The about 10,000-year-old evidence of the origin and development of rice in Shangshan Culture is not only an important advancement in the understanding of the global origin of agriculture, but also the first gift bestowed upon Chinese civilization by Zhejiang, a land full of creative vitality. The NMC is an important palace of history and art that collects, researches, displays and interprets physical evidence representative of China’s outstanding traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture. It has long been devoted to researching and interpreting archaeological objects and sites through archaeological excavations, exhibitions and so on to more clearly and thoroughly present the origin and development of Chinese civilization and its significant contributions to humanity. We sincerely hope that through this exhibition, visitors will develop a deeper understanding of the achievements and appeal of archaeology with Chinese characteristics, and strengthen their cultural confidence while making greater contributions to realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.