The selection of "Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries in 2008", sponsored by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and co-organized by Chinese Society of Archaeology, has been launched days earlier. The Neolithic Age Site found in Qingshan Island of Xiangyin County by Hunan Provincial Institute of Archaeology has been added among the initial review list of the archaeological discoveries in 2008. There are altogether 61 discoveries selected for the initial review this time.
From October to December in 2008, Hunan Provincial Institute of Archaeology made great efforts on the excavation of the Qingshan Site, Xiangyin County, Dongting Lake District. Several sites of the Neolithic Age were discovered on the Qingshan Island which covers an area of less than 5 square kilometers.
Surrounded by Heye Lake, Meizi Lake and Hengling Lake from north to south and facing the Qu Yuan Farm on the other side of the Xiangjiang River in the east, the Qingshan Site takes on an irregular semicircle and covers an area of about 30,000 square meters with an altitude of 25m. It is the lowest sites of the Neolithic Age excavated in Hunan Province.
Built on a large scale against possible flood
Surrounded by water in all directions, flood had always been the biggest problem for mankind in that period of time. From the excavation, we can see that people at that time had ever carried out construction on a large scale in order to elevate their residence above possible water levels. The site was built in rows on the man-made loess platform. One of the rooms in the site was exposed completely but severely damaged with broken foundation trenches and a few column holes, red scorched earth and vessels for daily use left on the ground. The actual area of the loess platform bearing the site buildings is still unclear. However the hoarding surrounding the platform with a length of about 13m found in the north is supposed to be the auxiliary establishment of the buildings on the platform.
Archaeologists also found a mass of ash pits in the site, which demonstrate that people had ever lived there for a long time. Some of the pits were probably used for storage.
Abundant relics unearthed
The Qingshan Site has abundant relics, including a mass of pottery, stone wares and a number of jade articles. Most of the potteries are red brown potteries, and then grey pottery and black pottery with a small proportion of white pottery, white-coated pottery, orange yellow pottery and red-coated pottery. Various shapes of tripod feet, white pottery, white-coated pottery as well as elaborated portrayal and seals are the most shining and brilliant parts of the site.
Compared with the elaborated pottery and its exquisite making techniques, the stone wares in the site were a little bit crudely-made. Most of them are narrow and thick stone axes or wide but thin stone adze. There is also a small number of punching stone shovels, stone chisels, stone cakes and grindstones, as well as three jade articles as ornamentation. According to the analysis of the pottery properties, the site is initially identified to be built in the mid and late Daxi Culture period about 5500 years ago.
Qingshan Site influenced by different cultures
The cultural connotation of the site is with two distinctive features. One is its novel and distinct cultural profile which demonstrates that the Dongting Lake district is an independent cultural area for archaeology. The Qingshan cultural relics are typical of the archaeological culture in the district. The other one is its complexity in culture elements, including those abundant elements of local culture and influence of the cultures in northwest China as well as the cultural elements from the northeast of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and East China.
The coexistence of different cultural elements actually reflects the interdependence and blending of the pre-history culture in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The culture in the northeast China turns out to be the last winner. The rebuilding and unification of the aboriginal culture around Dongting Lake district have been completed and its influence has been spread into the Liyang Plain and even the areas around the Pearl River Delta in Lingnan.