The longevity of Chinese civilization is generally conceded to be a unique phenomenon in world history; as such it has evoked explanations ranging from the plausible to the esoteric. A search for the roots of its longevity is now feasible, thanks to the massive archaeological and scientific data pouring out of China since 1949. A preliminary integration of such multifarious new data with rich archaic Chinese literary records has enabled me to reach the conclusion that the trait-complex of each of the major Chinese cultural elements—field agriculture, animal husbandry, pottery, metallurgy, script, language, religion including the system of divination, social and political thought—is marked at once by a regionally distinctive Sinitic character and by a pattern of centrifugal geographic spread from the southeastern portion of the loess highlands of North China. The detailed evidence and argument that the Chinese civilization, in spite of its later coalescence and articulation, was just as pristine as the Mesopotamian, have been presented in my recent book, The Cradle of the East: An Inquiry into the Indigenous Origins of Techniques and Ideas of Neolithic and Early Historic China, 5000–1000 B.C. In the course of my research I have uncovered three basic factors that may provide a fresh interpretation as to why the Chinese civilization is the only major civilization of ancient origin that is still distinctive and vital today.

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