unearthing [Unearthing History]

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 散文精选 点击:

  HISTORICAL RELIC: An archaeologist displays pottery excavated in Weining, Guizhou Province
  The top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2005 were unveiled in Beijing, with more than half of them coming from outside the Yellow River Valley, considered the cradle of Chinese civilization.
  The top spots were selected from about 100 archaeological discoveries last year. “This selection is based on their historical, scientific and aesthetic values and their significance in the development of archeology,” said Xu Pingfang, president of the Chinese Society of Archaeology.
  Xiaohuangshan Relics
  The Xiaohuangshan relics in Zhejiang Province, which date back 8,000-10,000 years, could rewrite the country’s archaeological history, because they are much older than the Hemudu site in the province, which was previously believed to have nurtured the earliest Neolithic culture in south China, about 7,000 years ago.
  The site was discovered in 1984. It has two settlements dating from the same era, which is very rare among the Neolithic sites that have been discovered so far. At the same time, the Xiaohuangshan relics, which are located in a river valley area, are supportive of the theory that human civilization developed from mountainous areas toward the plains and coastal islands.
  At the site, researchers found several deep ditches that they believed to be storerooms and some signs of cooking with fire. “We found that around the site there’s a man-made ditch, about 12-14 meters wide. It was used to protect against animals. Such a man-made ditch is of great antiquity in China,” said Wang Haiming, head of the archaeological team in Zhejiang.
  LOOK INTO THE PAST: The highest-profile tomb complex from the Western Zhou Dynasty discovered so far was found in Qishan County, Shaanxi Province
  The team also found a carved stone head that is estimated to be 9,000 years old. The stone head is made of basalt and is about half the size of a man’s palm. “This is the earliest stone head sculpture that has been discovered from the Neolithic era in China,” noted Wang.
  Few sculptures from the Neolithic era have been excavated, and such carved stone heads are particularly rare. Experts believe that primitive man seldom made objects beyond the basic necessities, so this 9,000-year-old stone head poses a riddle to the archeologists(9¥Œ): is it a totem, or a sign of some tribe, or just a decoration? Who owned this stone head? How did it come into being?
  The other two Neolithic sites in Zhejiang, the 10,000-year-old Shangshan site in Pujiang County and 7,000-year-old Kuahuqiao site, bear witness to the complexity of the Neolithic culture in Zhejiang. The origin of the Kuahuqiao relics remained a mystery for a long time among archeologists(9¥Œ). The excavation of the Xiaohuangshan site, however, reveals some connections with the Shangshan site and Kuahuqiao site, whose origins are about 2,000 years apart.
  The pottery discovered at the Xiaohuangshan site resembles that of the Hemudu site in the province. Therefore, archeologists(9¥Œ) conjecture that the Xiaohuangshan site might be one of the origins of the Hemudu culture.
  Gaomiao Relics
  Located in Hongjiang City, Hunan Province, the Gaomiao worship site is one of the well-preserved sites of the Neolithic age. It vividly reflects how the residents at that time conducted their religious activities, and it is very important to the origin and development of China’s religious worship.
  The site was excavated three times, in 1991, 2004 and 2005, by a team of local archeologists(9¥Œ), with an excavation area of 1,700 square meters.
  The major excavation work for 2005 was to uncover a big altar of about 1,000 square meters, but some 7,800-year-old pottery has also been discovered. On the pottery are delicate patterns of birds, wild animals and stars.
  Some experts hold that the Chinese people’s worship of the phoenix stemmed from the Gaomiao culture. According to He Gang, the leading researcher of the Gaomiao relics, the combined pattern of animals, the sun and the sacred bird represented the phoenix in primitive people’s eyes. It represented the people’s worship of the sun, rain and harvests.
  Before the discovery of the Gaomiao culture, an ivory carving with two birds on it which was found among the Hemudu relics was believed to be the earliest phoenix totem in China. The phoenix found in Gaomiao is 400 years older than that of the Hemudu, and it is of great value in researching the history of religion and art in China.
  In April 2005, some small colored jars with the image of the sun on them were unearthed among the Gaomiao relics and they are believed to be China’s earliest pottery handicraft articles. They also reflect the ancestors’ worship of the sun. The pottery found in Gaomiao showed that for the first time primitive men began to represent the spiritual world on such wares, said He.
  Remnants of more than 20 houses and 30 tombs were also unearthed during the excavation. One of the most important tombs is a joint grave for a couple, because a stack of valuable jade was found in their tomb. “It’s the first time in Hunan that we have found advanced jade articles with such craftsmanship,” noted He.
  Animal remains were also discovered at the Gaomiao site, such as deer, bear, pig and elephant, as well as shells. Other findings included stone implements, indicating that at that time the major methods for humans to obtain food were fishing, hunting and gathering. Some of the pig teeth were identified as coming from domesticated animals, which means that animal husbandry existed at that time. These animal remains are sources for the study of the food structure, livestock raising and ecology at that time.
  Hengshui Relics
  The Hengshui tomb site is in Hengshui Town in Shanxi Province. Archeologists deduced the tombs are from a small state of the ancient Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-771 B.C.). The owners of the tombs were the ruler of the state, Pengbo (meaning Count of Peng State), and his wife.
  Li Boqian, director of the archaeological research center of Peking University, said the discovery of the Western Zhou graves in Hengshui is the most important archaeological discovery since the excavation of the graves of the Marquis of Jin, another state of the Western Zhou Dynasty, in Quwo County of Shanxi Province.
  The tombs will help archeologists(9¥Œ) and historians better understand the history of the Western Zhou Dynasty and its jurisdiction, Li said.
  More than 80 tombs have been excavated at the site in Hengshui, with the tombs of Pengbo and his wife the largest ones. The couple was buried side by side with many funerary objects such as bronze ware, carriages and jade, said Song Jianzhong, deputy director of the Institute of Archaeology of Shanxi Province.
  One of the most important findings in the graves is the remains of a pall covering the coffins. The remains of the pall, even after thousands of years, are still a vivid red color. Phoenix patterns can be seen on the pall, said Song.
  “This is the oldest, best preserved and largest tomb decoration so far discovered in China,” said Song.
  A total of 16 pieces of bronze were unearthed from the two tombs. The inscriptions on the bronze show that one of the tombs belonged to Pengbo and the other to his wife. “Ding” bronzeware was a symbol of power and status in the Western Zhou Dynasty. Archeologists(9¥Œ) noted that five pieces of Ding ware were found in Pengbo’s wife’s tomb, and only three in Pengbo’s tomb.
  “It’s quite rare in ancient China, since males enjoyed higher status than females,” said Li, adding that it is probably because Pengbo’s wife’s parents were of high status. Five serial bells, of great value to the study of China’s musical history, were also found in the graves.

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