Alligator drums have been found over a broad area at the Neolithic sites from modern Shandong in the east to Qinghai in the west, dating to a period of 5500–2350 BC. In literary records, drums manifested shamanistic characteristics and were often used in ritual ceremonies. Drums covered with alligator skin for ceremonial use are mentioned in the Shijing.
During the Archaic period, alligators probably lived along the east coast of China, including southern Shandong. The earliest alligator drums, comprising a wooden frame covered with alligator skin, are found in the archaeological sites at Dawenkou (4100–2600 BC), as well as several sites of Longshan (3000–2000 BC) in Shandong and Taosi (2300– 1900 BC) in southern Shanxi.