Also this year I bring you a summary of the mayor archeological discoveries in China made in 2008 as published by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Cultural Relics Press (www.Wenwu.com).
In 2008 the discoveries of archeological jades where minor and overshadowed by exceptional tombs and bronze finds of the Western Zhou, Han and Warring State periods.
Nevertheless I have picked out the jades shown in the publication and the associated text describing the site for your enjoyment.
The Xiaozhushan and Wujiacun sites are situated at Wujiacun Village in the middle of Guanglu Island within Changhai County, Dalian City, Liaoning Province.
They are 300-400m apart from each other as the crow flies, and between them a stream runs northwards to the Yellow Sea. To research into the chronological and pedigree sequences of the prehistoric archaeological cultures in the Liaodong Peninsula region and the diffusion of ancient rice farming in East Asia, the Institute of Archaeology, CASS jointly with the Liaoning Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Dalian Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology carried out excavation on the two sites in May—August 2006 and April—July 2008 respectively. The Xiaozhushan site is a typical shell-mound site, consisting of several cultural layers largely formed of large quantities of shells. The Wujiacun site is the same in nature. In date its main remains correspond to those of the mid phase of the former site, but they lasted down to the Liao-and-Jin period. The findings include Neolithic vestiges and pottery, stone and bone objects, as well as house-foundations of the Liao-and-Jin period.
The Halahaigou cemetery lies on a hill in the northwest of the territory of Halahaigou community of Sihe Village in Yuanbaoshan Town, Chifeng City of Inner Mongolia.
In May —August 2007, the Inner Mongolian Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Chifeng Municipal Museum and the Chifeng Municipal Office for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments carried out there a salvaging excavation. They revealed 51 tombs and a sacrificial pit of the Xiaoheyuan Culture period. The cemetery is much similar to other burial grounds of the Xiaoheyuan culture, with the tombs arranged roughly in rows, the pottery belonging mainly to sandy clay ware, the dou stemmed vessel and cylindrical jar as the chief types, various incised patterns as the prevalent decorations, and the painted designs falling into the prior- and post-firing-made variants. The funeral objects include tools of production and ornaments. This is another important discovery following the Danangou cemetery in Ongniud Banner of Inner Mongolia and the Jiangjialiang site in Yangyuan of Hebei. It provided important material data for the study of the Xiaoheyuan culture.
The South Baoligaotu site and tombs are situated about 40 km southeast of Lubei Town in Jarud Banner, Inner Mongolia.
In 2006 — 2008, the Inner Mongolian Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Horqin Museum and the Jarud Banner Office for the Preservation of Ancient Monuments jointly carried out there three seasons of excavation. The vestiges fall into four areas, i.e. Areas A, B, C and D, with a distance of 300 to 800 m between each other. The former three are cemeteries, while the latter one, a dwelling site. The excavation of 2008 covered the southeastern corner of Area A, Area C and Area D, and revealed in a total area of 4,300 sq m 50 tombs, 35 ash-pits, 9 house-foundations and over 400 pottery, jade and other precious stone, bone and shell objects, providing abundant material for understanding the cultural aspect and nature of the cemeteries and dwelling site. Located at a distinctive place, the South Baoligaotu complex held the key position for the amalgamation of many late Neolithic archaeological cultures in Northeast China. Its discovery and excavation has important value to further researching into prehistoric archaeological cultures and their types in Northeast China.
The Sunjiacheng Site is located in the territory of the Suncheng and Feiwu communities of Ligang Village in Mamiao Town, Huaining County, Anhui Province.
It measures about 250,000 sq m in remaining area and has surrounding city-walls in the periphery. To investigate further the source and where-about of 6c Xuejiagang culture and the date of the city-walls, archaeologists carried out two seasons of excavation in October 2007 to January 2008 and in October to November 2008, and revealed an area of about 600 sq m in total. The results include, firstly, the confirmation of the local Zhangsidun type period of the Longshan -age as the date of the main city-walls; and, secondly, the establishment of the rather complete chronological sequence in southwestern Anhui from about 6,000 to 4,000 BP that evolved from a newly recognized culture through the Xuejiagang culture to the Zhangsidun type. The discovery of the Longshan Age city-site constitutes a breakthrough in the prehistoric archaeology of the lower Yangtze River valley. The above-described evolutionary line covers on the whole all periods of the Neolithic Age in southwestern Anhui, provides valuable data for inquiring into the change of the Neolithic culture in this region and furnishes new valuable clues to seeking for the source and where-about of the Xuejiagang culture.
The Dahekou cemetery is situated to the north of Dahekou Village of Longhua Town in Yicheng County, Shanxi Province, on a terrace of the northern bank of the Huihe River.
At this site more than 400 tombs were discovered through drilling. Since September 2007, six of them have been excavated. The most important is Tomb MI. It is an earthen pit with a chamber and a coffin, which contains the remains of a male. Sloping holes were discovered at the four comers of the pit opening, and lacquered wooden tomb-figurines were found on the eastern second-tier platform. This is the first time archaeology has revealed this type of funeral object among the so far recorded Western Zhou tombs across the Central Plains. The grave goods from M I include large quantities of bronzes, proto-porcelain and pottery, with the former one coming first in number and falling into ritual vessels, musical instruments, weapons and horse-and-chariot trappings. The tomb-owner is an earl-ranking nobleman of the earlier mid Western Zhou. The burial ground is a newly discovered graveyard of a Western Zhou fief-state, which, as known from the bronze inscriptions, was in contact with the Yan and Rui states. Culturally the Dahekou cemetery is much similar to the Hengshui cemetery in Jiangxian County, Shanxi.
Tomb Shuangdun-1 of the Spring-and-Autumn period lies at Shuangdun Village of Xiaobengbu Town in Huaishang District, Bengbu City, Anhui Province,
It was explored through a salvaging excavation in December 2006 to August 2008. It is a large-sized earthen pit with a nine-meter high mound, beneath which is a 30 cm thick pavement of white earth. The pit measures 20.2 m in diameter for the opening and 7.5 m in depth. Two meters below the opening is a circular second-tier platform 1.9 m in width, and on the eastern side, a 14-step tomb‑passage 6.3 m in length and 3.2 m in width. The grave goods include large quantities of bronzes, post-firing-painted pottery vessels and lacquered wooden articles, and a small number of stone implements, jades, pottery vessels with stamped geometric patterns, cowries and gold-foiled ornaments. Unique in structure and complex in furniture, the tomb represents a newly discovered type of burial in pre-Qin times and provides new data for researching into the form, structure and burial institution of tombs in ancient China.
The Anshan site is located at Kengbian Village of Shenhu Town in Jinjiang City, Fujian Province.
In May to August 2008, the Fujian Museum and other institutions explored it through a salvaging excavation that covered an area of 775 sq m. The revealed vestiges include the remains of three floors and four ash-pits with large quantities of shells. The site goes back to the Bronze Age and contains two phases of cultural elements. Among the unearthed objects are substantial pottery, stone, jade, bone and bronze artifacts. This is the first time archaeology has discovered a dune-type site of the Bronze Age in Fujian. Its building-foundations and cultural relics show unique regional features. Remains of the same cultural type are extensively distributed in the coastal area and islands of the southern Fujian region.
In November 2008, in coordination with capital construction in Cuizhuyuan Sub-district of Qujiang, Van City, the Xi'an Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics Preservation and Archaeology excavated four tombs of the Western Han period.
Tombs M I and M2 are similar in form, either consisting of a sloping passage, a brick chamber, a western side-room and an eastern one, either of the two latter having a small niche. Tombs M3 and M4 are also similar, either furnished with a brick chamber with a shaft passage and a side room. On the chamber walls of Ml, murals were found to depict doorkeepers, life scenes, celestial phenomena, etc., constituting a batch of important cultural relics. Judged by the tomb form and unearthed objects, the tomb can be preliminarily dated to the late Western Han period. The dress and stature of the human figures in the wall paintings reflect then people's difference in social status. These murals show the high artistic achievements of the Chang'an Capital Region in the Western Han period.