Archaeologists have identified the remains of the largest Stone Age building ever found in China -- thought to be a prehistoric "town hall" -- in the northwestern Shaanxi Province.
The remains of the pentagon-shaped structure, discovered at the Xiahe Site in Baishui County, date back to the Yangshao culture era of 5,000 to 3,000 BC in the New Stone Age.
Covering 364 square meters, the building had a capacity to hold hundreds of people and might once have been used as a meeting hall, said Zhang Pengcheng, a researcher with the Shaanxi Archaeological Research Institute.
"The ancients erected four large wooden pillars and columns along the walls, making the structure of this size possible," said Zhang.
Zhang said the multiple-layer walls, the calcite-plastered floor and a 1.8-meter-wide fireplace in the center made the building "quite special."
Traces at the site suggested the above-ground structure was later carefully removed, rather than abandoned, said Zhang.
Researchers are still considering its exact purpose.
The Yangshao culture was a Neolithic culture existing along the Yellow River. Relics discovered from the time include colorful painted pottery. The most recent finds included the ruins of a building devastated by an early earthquake.