Zhangjiajie (simplified Chinese: 张家界; traditional Chinese: 張家界; pinyin: Zhāngjiājiè; Tujia: Zanxjiaxgaif /tsán tɕá kǎi/), is a prefecture-level city in the northwestern part of Hunan Province, China. It comprises the district of Yongding, Wulingyuan and counties of Cili and Sangzhi. It contains the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
The city itself was previously named Dayong (大庸) and has a recorded history dating back to 221 BC. People lived here along both banks of the Lishui River (the mother river in Zhangjiajie), now within the boundaries of Zhangjiajie City, very early during the Stone Age. Human settlement in this region dates back 100,000 years, rivaling famous sites such as Xi'an, Beijing and others. In 1986, the Academy of Chinese Social Science discovered Stone Age relics in Cili County, unearthing 108 articles of stoneware; mostly tapered-form, hacked-tamped and plate-shaped works. Shortly thereafter, in 1988, the Archaeological Institute of the Hunan Province found other relics in Sangzhi County, including three pieces of stoneware that were estimated to have been fashioned over around the same time period.
Ten thousand years ago, those who lived within the boundaries of what is now Zhangjiajie City employed fire to bake pottery. Archaeologists have found more than 20 relics of this kind in the Cili County. While in Sangzhi County, a black clay pot adorned with a unique design was unearthed dating back ten thousand years. During that period, this pottery-firing technique was the most advanced in China. These technological advancements in the fashioning of stone tools and pottery would seem to indicate a highly developed culture in this region. However, the society which developed only endured briefly before waning and being superseded by other regional powers. This seems understandable in view of Zhangjiajie's remote geographical position, its undeveloped land and river transportation and its mountainous terrain making cultivation difficult. For these reasons, Zhangjiajie has been labeled "the Land of the Savage Southern Minority" since the earliest recorded history. Additional name descriptors have been the "Wuling Rude People" and "Tujia Rude People", indicative of discriminatory views held against the regional culture.