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China was one of the first countries to see the emergence of agriculture.Finds at the ruins of the Hemudu Culture in Yuyao and the site of the matriarchal society at Banpo Village near Xi'an, which all date back 6,000 to 7,000 years, include rice, millet and spade-like farm tools made of stone or bone.Yingdu, capital of the State of Chu, was no less bustling.Someone described the city by saying that the streets were so crowded with people that brand-new clothes put on in the morning got terribly worn by the evening.Iron plows pulled by cattle could plow larger areas of farmland within a shorter period of time, in addition to being able to plow deeper.This enabled the opening up of the desolate Loess Plateau.Ruins of the New Stone Age can be found throughout China's north and south.
Jade effigies of silkworms as well as silk fabrics pasted on the surface of bronzes which have been unearthed at Dasikong Village, Anyang, Henan Province, prove that during the Shang Dynasty (16-11 centuries BC) sericulture and silk making had already reached maturity.Archaeological studies have proved that the area of Hemudu at the time was covered under large tracts of marshland, providing suitable conditions for cultivating rice and developing farming.At the sites, indications of rice cultivation are in great abundance, as piles of rice grains, husks, stalks and leaves have been found there. Examinations reveal that the rice grown at Hemudu was long-grained non-glutinous rice, and is the earliest example of artificially-cultivated rice that has been found in China to date.Human labor had to be employed to pull primitive plows.
Farming areas were strictly limited by the natural environment.After the First Emperor of Qin (259-210 BC) unified China, he had the Ling Canal dug, which linked the two large river systems in south China: those of the Yangtze and Pearl rivers.