The city of Xi'an, close to China's geographical center, has become a point of tourist interest because, among other reasons, as the site of the capital of eleven major and minor dynasties dating back to the preimperial period, it has remained prominent longer than any other political center in Chinese history, even though the old cities have been lost to internal rebellions and foreign invasions. Today only their ruins testify to Xi'an's former greatness.
Several other types of historical site are located to the east of the present city. Less than five miles away is Banpo Village, the largest Neolithic ("New Stone Age") site ever discovered in China and 6,000 years old. A special museum is on the spot. There, the foundations of forty-six houses and the accompanying burial sites suggested that the inhabitants, flourishing about 4000 B.C., lived a communal life in a matriarchal order. They left potteries with decorative motifs, often in geometrical patterns, sometimes with a fish design. The smaller figures on them are perhaps numerals, or in some way identifiable with special groups of owners. The Banpo people were farmers; but they supplemented their agriculture with fishing and hunting, as their tools and storages indicate.
No more than twenty miles to the northeast is Huaqing Hot Spring, where in the eighth century A.D. (compared with the Stone Age a rather