Distributed in the border areas between Lingyuan County and Jianping County of Liaoning Province, Niuheliang Site contains more than ten sites and covers an area of over 50 square kilometers in total. These ancient ruins were discovered in the year of 1981 during the national survey of cultural relics. As Niumang River flows across this piece of land, hence the name. The Temple of Goddess and stone tombs were found during the excavation work. With a long history of 5,000 years, Niuheliang Site belongs to Hongshan (shan means mountain) Culture of Neolithic Period. This area has been listed to be under the state-level protection. In the meanwhile, the discovery of Niuheliang Site has been considered to be one of the '100 great archeological wonders' in China at the 20th century.
The big worshipping altar, the Temple of Goddess and the stone tombs discovered here all share some similarities in layout and design with the Temple of Heaven, the Imperial Ancestral Temple and the Ming Tombs in the Beijing city. 5,000 years ago, there was a primitive civilization here with an embryonic form of nation. Thanks to this great discovery, the scale of research objects of ancient Chinese history was enlarged, expanding from the original Yellow River drainage area in the central part of China to the west Liao River area on the north of Yanshan Mountain in the northeastern part of China. What's more, the history of ancient Chinese civilization was brought forward one thousand years earlier. Also this new archeological result has great influenced the research of the history of social development, philosophy, religion, architecture, and art in ancient Chinese society in the primitive period.
The most precious treasure of the historical relics already excavated here is a colorfully painted goddess head which has almost the same size with the head of a real person. According to experts, this statue of head belongs to the Mongolian human species, and looks quite similar with the face shape of today's Chinese people living in north China. The eyeballs have been made from round jade balls, and the head is 22.5 centimeters in length and 16.5 in width. She has long and round ears, and a low bridge of nose. The cheekbone is high and prominent, while the mouth is very big. With red paintings on the face, the statue looked quite bright in color at the moment of being excavated out from the ground. Some pottery utensils used in ancient worshipping activities have been found in the Goddess Temple, as a result, experts believe that in ancient times this temple was often used to hold big worshipping ceremonies. Other excavations such as jade pigs, jade dragons and jade owls all have very vivid, simple and unsophisticated designs, and visitors are always amazed by these precious treasures.
The stone tombs here have been constructed with big pieces of slabs, which are usually 40 centimeters in length, 30 centimeters in thickness and 20 centimeters in width. There are two kinds of tombs: one is square and the other round. Each type of them covers a large area, ranging from 300 square meters to 1,000 square meters. The stone columns used to support the tomb roofs have an average height of one meter. There are usually dozens of coffins buried in each tomb. However, because of their different social statuses, different people in ancient times were buried in different stone coffins of different sizes. The biggest stone coffin excavated is 3.5 meters both in length and width, buried in the central part of the whole tomb. Others are normally 1.5 meters in length and 0.5 meters in width.
In the big stone tombs, a large number of jade wares are excavated. They have various designs and beautiful shapes. In ancient China, jade articles were often used to bury with the deceased. Usually they were put under the head, on the chest, and at some other parts of the dead body. There were many kinds of jade wares, such as jade pigs and jade dragons, which were actually used symbolizing certain kinds of ancient religions. There were also jade accessories, such as jewelries, necklaces, and bracelets. Other artistic jade articles already discovered include jade birds, jade pigeons, jade turtles, jade fish, jade beasts and so on. They have all been exquisitely made with unique styles, and the jade dragons have been considered to be the most representative excavation of the whole Hongshan Culture.