Zhangjiajie used to be named Dayong, and has a recorded history dating back to 221 BC. Human beings lived here along both banks of the Lishui River (the mother river in zhangjiajie), now within the boundaries of Zhanagjiajie City, very early during the Stone Age. The history of civilization in this region dates back to 100,000 years ago, rivaling such famous sites as Xi’an, Beijing and others. In 1986, the Academy of Chinese Social Science discovered relics of the Old Stone Age in Cili County, unearthing 108 articles of stoneware; these mainly included: tapered-form, hacked-tamped and plate-shaped wares.
According to the archaeological experts’ textual research, all of these wares were produced about 100,000 years ago. What’s more, shortly thereafter, in 1988, the Archaeological Institute of Hunan Province found another relic of the Old Stone Age in Sangzhi County; they turned up 3 pieces of stoneware, which they estimated, were also fashioned over 100,000 years ago.
Ten thousand years ago, those who lived within the boundaries of what is now Zhangjiajie City, employed fire to bake pottery. Archaeologists have found more than 20 relics of this kind in Cili County, while in Sangzhi County, a black clay pot adorned with a unique design and dating back to ten thousand years ago was unearthed. In that period of history, such a pottery-firing technique was the most advanced in China. These sparks of culture in the fashioning of stone tools and pottery truly cast its wonderful light on the civilization of this region; however, it endured but a short while and then passed off the scene into the endless stream of history.
This seems understandable in view of Zhangjiajie’s remote geographical position, its undeveloped land and river transportation, its mountainous terrain making cultivation difficult, and its overall backwardness. For these reasons, Zhangjiajie has been labeled “the Land of the Savage Southern Minority” since the dawn of recorded history. Also, the people here have borne the names of “Wuling Rude People” and “Tujia Rude People” for generations.