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Archaeological findings provide key proof of Chinese civilization origin

(Xinhua)    08:30, May 08, 2020

-- Chinese archaeologists announced significant achievements at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province, providing key proof of the origin of the over 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization.

-- With an area of 1.17 million square meters, the Shuanghuaishu site, dating back to around 5,300 years, is located on the south bank of the Yellow River in the township of Heluo, Gongyi City, and was proposed to be named "Heluo kingdom."

-- A large number of relics of the Yangshao Culture dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years have been discovered at the site.

ZHENGZHOU, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists announced Thursday significant achievements at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province, providing key proof of the origin of the over 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization.

With an area of 1.17 million square meters, the Shuanghuaishu site is located on the south bank of the Yellow River in the township of Heluo, Gongyi City.

The ancient city relic dating back to around 5,300 years ago was proposed by Chinese archaeologists to be named "Heluo kingdom" after its location in the center of the Heluo area, where the Yellow River (known as He in ancient China) and the Luohe River meet.

"The Shuanghuaishu site is the highest-standard cluster with the nature of a capital city discovered so far in the Yellow River basin in the middle and late stage of Yangshao Culture, the early stage of the formation of Chinese civilization," said Li Boqian, a professor at Peking University, at a press conference on major archaeological discoveries at Shuanghuaishu site held Thursday in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital.

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 27, 2019 shows the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Li An)

A large number of relics of the Yangshao Culture dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years have been discovered at the site, said Gu Wanfa, director of the Zhengzhou Municipal Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, at the press conference.

"The important archaeological findings provide key proof of the origin of Chinese civilization, and also prove the representativeness and influence of the Heluo area in the golden stage of the origin of Chinese civilization around 5,300 years ago," said Wang Wei, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Since 2013, the Zhengzhou Municipal Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have conducted continuous archaeological excavations on the site.

According to archaeologists, the Shuanghuaishu site was about 1,500 meters long from east to west and 780 meters wide from north to south. It was surrounded by three ring trenches with each found to have external access, forming a strict defense system.

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 27, 2019 shows the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Li An)

The central residential area with four rows of houses was found in the northern part of the inner ring moat. Meanwhile, three public cemeteries with more than 1,700 tombs, three sacrificial remains, an astronomical relic, a pottery workshop area, a water storage area, a road system, and other facilities were also discovered at the city ruins.

"The Shuanghuaishu site was a well-selected and scientifically planned settlement site," said Wang.

"Based on the geographical location and scale, it's also the only large-scale city settlement discovered so far in the Yellow River basin from the middle and late stage of Yangshao Culture," Wang added.

Archaeologists believe that the Heluo kingdom was the source of many typical characteristics of Chinese civilization.

Silk originated in China and later became one of the country's major trade items. "The mulberry-growing and silkworm-raising culture was an important component of Chinese civilization," said Li.

Among the unearthed relics at Shuanghuaishu, a boar tusk carving of a silkworm, 6.4 cm long, nearly 1 cm wide and 0.1 cm thick, was believed to be China's earliest carving depicting silkworms.

Undated photo shows a boar tusk carving of a silkworm unearthed at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua)

Experts say that the carving depicts a spinning silkworm which is quite similar to modern silkworms in appearance. "The spinning shape of the carving suggests that ancient Chinese people were familiar with the habits of silkworms," said Gu.

Along with silk fabrics unearthed at the surrounding Wanggou site and Qingtai site, archaeologists said they are solid evidence to prove that the ancient Chinese in the Yellow River basin began raising silkworms and silk production around 5,300 years ago.

"Except Shuanghuaishu and its surrounding settlement sites, there were no definite discoveries from around 5,300 years ago related to the silk textile industry in other parts of the country," said Li. "In that sense, they are the earliest representatives in the development history of Chinese mulberry cultivation and silkworm-rearing culture."

Meanwhile, at the astronomical relic at Shuanghuaishu, nine pottery pots were arranged in the pattern of the nine stars of the Big Dipper, which shows that the ancestors of Heluo had relatively mature astronomical knowledge.

Photo taken on April 28, 2020 shows one of nine pottery pots arranged in the pattern of the nine stars of the Big Dipper, at an astronomical relic at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China's Henan Province. (Xinhua/Li An)

"The relic also indicates the worship of the celestial body may have formed a grand sacrificial ceremony for observing the solar terms and praying for a good harvest," said Gu.

Experts also believe the astronomical relic and the surrounding sacrificial remains constitute a whole, which is consistent with the records of winter solstice sacrifices in ancient Chinese documents. "It is of great significance to the study of early Chinese astronomy and the origin of Chinese civilization," added Gu.

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(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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