Archaeologists report discoveries, clues about ancient China

BEIJING, Jan. 9 Kyodo

Chinese archaeologists said Friday they made important discoveries in north-central provinces last year that show prehistoric people’s land use creativity, architectural professionalism and respect for family unity after death.

Archaeologists presented their findings from dig sites in northern China to academics, historians and journalists at the third annual China Archaeology New Discovery Forum at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Forum sponsors billed the discoveries as the most significant archaeological findings of 2003 in a country where graves, pottery and other relics constantly turn up under farms or construction sites.

The discoveries presented at the daylong forum include a 4,100-year-old walled city containing a labyrinth of tombs and altars in Xiangfen city of southern Shanxi Province.

The 1,400 square meters of architecture have held up well enough that the academy team could tell from a year of excavation how the early Chinese civilization built the city, said excavation team leader He Nu.

Further study will also show how people in southern Shanxi Province, seen as a birthplace of Chinese civilization, designed buildings, planted fields and developed a political system, said Wang Wei, vice director of the academy’s Archaeology Institute.

”Through two years of work, this is a big achievement,” Wang told the forum, which attracted about 300 people. ”It’s got a lot of significance.”

Excavation in 2002 and 2003 in the Inner Mongolian grasslands along the Mangniu River revealed 145 rooms full of pottery and graves from the Xinglonghua Culture and Red Mountain Culture eras 3,500 to 8,000 years ago.

Husbands and wives were buried together and parents were buried with their children in double-chamber tombs. People also buried pig bones in the shape of dragons.

”To understand people’s household psychology, here is new evidence,” said Liu Guoxiang, also an excavation team leader from the academy. ”This is a contribution to China’s origins.”

In the second half of last year, Henan Province archaeologists found two Chinese Han Dynasty courtyards totaling 1,400 sq. meters in Neihuan County.

The pottery, metal tools and arrangement of walls and gates offer insight into the dynasty 2,200 years ago, including its use of the Yellow River, said Liu Haiwang, a director with the Henan Province Archaeological Relics Research Institute.

Archaeologists also found Shang Dynasty funeral relics from Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province and tombs from the Northern Zhou Dynasty in Shaanxi Province.

Another burial site in Inner Mongolia will help archaeologists understand burial lifestyle, clothing and art from the Liao Dynasty.

DNA tests on animal bones from north-central China — the seventh finding of 2003 — show differences in the role of pigs, cattle and sheep in farming as far as 9,000 years ago.

The tests also show similarities between dogs from this era and modern-day Japanese dogs, according to a forum report.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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