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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 09:40, July 05, 2004
Riddle of Liangzhu Culture expected to be solved
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A time span of 3,000 years, the relics of Liangzhu Culture and Maqiao Culture buried in the soil, a great many well-preserved ancient utensils and skeletons of the ancients.

On the morning of June 28, as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of China in 2004, the excavation of Qianjin Tadi Site became an important item on the agenda of the 28th World Heritage Conference. Reporters went to the live telecasting spot, and witnessed the whole course and recorded this historic moment.

Reporter witnessed tombs of civilians of 3,000 years ago discovered
Qianjin Tadi Site is located somewhere three kilometers southeast of Qianjin Town, Huzhou. When the townsfolk heard that the excavation of this site would be live telecasted by CCTV, and that the site was one of the important items on the agenda of the 28th World Heritage Conference, they hurried to Tadi Site very early. In order to prevent traffic accidents from happening, the traffic police set up blocks three kilometers beyond, and entrance to the site was forbidden to vehicles without fixed duties. So the reporter had to hurry to the excavation spot on foot. Tadi Site was tightly packed with villagers and townspeople.

--Ten-odd excavated square pits were on display at the spot

On display within the cordon were a dozen or so initially excavated square pits. The reporter saw that there was a distinct vestige of stairs, orderly-arranged earthen holes, well-preserved skeletons and some cultural relics such as pots and pans. Simultaneously when dozens of workers were digging the site, experts used bamboo slips and brushes to do further excavations of the cultural relics that emerged from under the ground.

Photo:A well preserved male skeleton
A well preserved male skeleton
--A well preserved male skeleton

An ancient's skeleton initially showing its shape became the focus of excavation by archaeologists. According to the experts, this skeleton already has a history of several thousand years, but its teeth and skeleton were very well preserved. After preliminary identification by the experts, it proved to be a male skeleton, and judged from the funeral objects, it was an ordinary person.

"It is really a wonder that the skeleton is so well preserved under such an environment wherein the air humidity and soil acidity in Zhejiang is relatively high." Rui Guoyao, chief responsible person of the excavation work, said. It is reported that when this skeleton was completely dug out, it would be sent to a cultural relics research institute for further chronology, and would ultimately be entirely moved into a museum

--Current discoveries are mainly tombs of the populace

According to archaeologists, Tadi Site should be composed of a relatively large residential area, a tomb area and other parts. Among the currently discovered cultural relics, there were mainly civilian tombs, and the funeral objects were mainly articles for daily use, along with a large number of potteries of poor workmanship, and a few jade articles. At present, the archaeological excavation has entered the second stage.

--Two major cultural relics buried here

Photo:Cultural relices found at the excavation site
Cultural relices found at the excavation site
With regard to the currently unearthed cultural relics, research fellow Rui Guoyao, leader of the provincial and municipal joint archaeological team, said during an interview that there were relatively intact potteries, stone axe and stone adze that belonged to the later period of Liangzhu Culture; among the potteries, there were black-pottery double-mouth kettle, basin, wine vessel, bean, jar and sand-mixed red-pottery cooking vessel; in the Maqiao Culture accumulation, there were residential relics such as ashcan, ditch, and over 20 potteries were unearthed such as stamped pottery jar, kettle with a hoop handle, primitive porcelain bowl, cup, handle-less cup, spinning wheel and net pendent. Many relics excavated here had already appeared in the period of Da Wenkou Culture. Based on this, they inferred: during that period, cultural exchange activities had already been frequent.

Villager recall that land leveling reveals the relic site
Tadi Site originally belonged to a village named Qianjin. Before this site was discovered, it had been a plot of villagers' farmland.

Villager Lao Yao's home was only 10 steps away from the site. Speaking about the whole process of the discovery of this site, Lao Yao was very excited: "We planted many kinds of crops here in the past, and as time went by, there emerged many mounds on the surface of the land. To make things convenient for cultivation, we demanded to have the land leveled. Early this year, the town authorities sent here several bulldozers. They dug up the mounds, but they also dug out some hard objects such as large quantities of pottery fragments, and stones with decorative patterns. We did not care much about them at that time, but put them aside. In February this year, experts came and said after observation that it might be the ruins of an ancient village buried here for thousands of years! And it was only at that moment that we came to realize that what we had dug out was the country's cultural relics, treasure!"

A great number of cultural relics like exposed utensil fragments, pottery chips and ashcan have aroused the attention of local cultural relics protection departments. On Feb. 9, the Huzhou Municipal Cultural Relics Protection Department dispatched a 6-member archaeological team, and chose two 5m x 10m probes, carrying out rescue trial excavation on the site, and conducting point-selecting exploration on the whole Tadi Site. On Apr. 9, a 5000-sq-m large-scale rescue archaeological excavation was formally launched. This was reportedly the largest of its kind ever conducted in Huzhou since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

Expert shocked to learn that riddle of Liangzhu Culture was expected to be answered
The discovery of Tadi Site shocked the archaeologists, so what is its cultural value? Experts' answer to this question is: Qianjin Tadi Site will become the key to solving the riddle of Liangzhu Culture, making the people of thousands of years later gain new knowledge about that phase of culture.

Experts say that Qianjin Tadi Site dates back to Majiabang Culture 6,500 years ago and the accumulation of Stamped Pottery Culture of the later period of Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC-256 BC), and Six Dynasties of Han, the time span is about 3,000 years. The most typical three periods of Taihu Lake Valley prehistoric culture--Majiabang Culture, Songze Culture and Liangzhu Culture, can all find vestiges here, the culture accumulation is also very abundant, and the scope is large as well. However, the follow-up of Liangzhu Culture that has not yet found out an answer in Taihu Lake Valley--Maqiao Culture's living environment, way of production, social structure, etc., a series of which represent the mystery of Bronze Civilization in the south of the Yangtze River. This mystery is also hopeful of being investigated thoroughly in Tadi Site. "It is only the beginning now, and I believe that there will be more valuable cultural relics unearthed as the excavation goes on. And the mystery of Liangzhu Civilization will also be gradually unveiled, and the civilization thousands of years ago will be reproduced." Rui Guoyao remarked.

Excavation slated to be finished by the end of this year
Some 5,000 square meters are planned to be excavated at Tadi ruins, and now 1,300 square meters have been dug, 25 tombs have been removed, and excavation in key areas is estimated to end in August. By the end of this year, the entire excavation will be completed. Bao Xianlun, head of Provincial Bureau of Cultural Relics, said when interviewed by the media that they are confident of wholly digging out Qianjin Tadi Site!

It is reported that the Huzhou Municipal Government has allocated 2.63 million yuan as a special fund for the excavation of Tadi Site. Ding Wenben, deputy mayor of Huzhou, says that this site, after being exploited, will be a scenic spot for visitors.

By People's Daily Online

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