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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter gives a brief sketch of the evolutionary background of the diverse peoples and languages of China. It discusses the physical setting of East Asia, which took shape some 50 million years ago as a result of a tectonic collision. Fossils of Homo erectus, such as the Peking Man, date back some 600,000 years, and those of Homo sapiens, such as those recently discovered in Guangxi, date back well over 100,000 years. Many neolithic settlements have been excavated, some dating back to 10,000 years, distributed all over the territory that has become China. The sustained interaction among settlers from some 6,000 years ago resulted in a cultural sphere (Initial China). Although the Central Plains are best known because of written texts, which date back in a continuous lineage over 3,000 years, and its sustained political dominance, China continues to be to this day a mosaic of diverse peoples and languages.

Keywords: Central Plains, evolutionary background, Homo sapiens, Initial China, Peking Man

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