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I wish to thank the UCLA Institute of Archaeology for supporting with an Ahmanson Field Research Grant the trip which made this research possible, and the Rhode Island School of Design for a faculty development grant which allowed further research on this topic. This research would not have been possible without the help of many Chinese colleagues: Prof. Gai Shanlin of the Inner Mongolian Institute of Archaeology, Mr Wang Derong of the Ningxia Cultural Relics Bureau. The petroglyph drawings are by Gisel Floretz.
1. The cart (pulled by cattle and with solid wheels) appeared around 3000-3500 bc throughout the Near East, while the horse-drawn chariot appeareds in the eastern steppes by 2000-1500 bc (by 1300 bc the chariot was in Shang China); Di Cosmo (1999, 903); Torday (1997, 10-11). The camel is taken to be evidence of a drying trend in the climate which started probably around 1000 bc.
2. Mounted archery is said to have appeared before 700 BC, even though the stirrups were not used in Mongolia until the fourth century AD; cf. Torday (1997, 11).
3. Such small ceramic pagodas (3-5 cm) have been excavated at the sites of 108 Ta, Baisikou Shuangta, Baisikou Fangta (Li Xiangshi & Zhu Cunshi 1993, 13).
4. The Great Wall is not a single and continuos structure, but a time-layered conglomeration of walls not necessarily linked together. According to historical lore, the Great Walls was first conceived as a continuos defensive line by the First Emperor of Qin in the third century bc by linking the pre-existing state walls of the Late Zhou powers. Later Great Walls, however, did not follow the same line and extended or retreated according to the control on the territory each dynasty was able to afford. Waldron (1990, 1-51).
5. While generally pastoralists, the nomads did engage in limited agriculture, Di Cosmo (1994).
6. In current rock art terminology, engraved signs are called petroglyphs while painted ones are inappropriately termed pictographs. The term pictograph indicates a type of writing and it is used in this article with that meaning.
7. A few signs could be later doodles. Mr Wei Zhong asked some shepherds who sometimes carve images on rocks about the meaning of these signs. The shepherds said there was no meaning, they drew because they were sitting there looking at the pre-existing images and were bored (Wei Zhong pers. comm. 2000).
8. A piece of writing, no matter how primitive, arranges its signs following a sequential logic which may or may not be linguistic; differently, pictorial representation places its signs in accordance to a spatial logic, and hierarchies between signs are established by both their size and position.