Civilization first emerged in Ningxia in more than 30,000 years ago, long before any dynasty rules the region. Being a military base along the Great Wall during Ming Dynasty, Shuidonggou Site is also the earliest excavated Paleolithic site in China, earning it the name “Cradle of Prehistoric Archaeology in the East”. Until 2014, the site was excavated six times and have numerous stoneware and fossils dug out. You can learn more about the prehistoric history of the region in Shuidonggou Museum. Apart from the prehistoric archaeological significance, Shuidonggou Site has a number of well-preserved military constructions of the Ming Dynasty, including a stretch of the Ming Great Wall, the Beacon Tower, the “Troops Cave” and the Hungshan Fort.
Another prehistoric site in Ningxia is at the famous Helan Mountain. Over 6,000 pieces of cliff paintings were documented at Helankou, the gorge cut through the mountain in a north-west direction. These cliff paintings were mainly images of human figures, animals and symbols, depicting scenes of prehistoric livelihood such as hunting, herding, battles, festive dance and sacrificing, etc. On the other hand, the symbolic images usually consist of face like masks, which is widely believed to be the god of sun. Helan Cliff Paintings were created 3,000 to 10,000 years ago. Researchers believe they were craved by nomadic tribes who inhabit the area during that period of time.