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Focus on China Volume 58 Number 1, January/February 2005

In the past decade, China's archaeologists have been digging ahead of countless infrastructure projects and working with foreign colleagues in parts of the country that were once off-limits. This ongoing work guarantees a stream of interesting discoveries.


*The largest Chu period (790-223 B.C.) burial site ever discovered was recently unearthed in Hubei Province. Nine tombs oriented north-south yielded a total of more than 500 artifacts, with one tomb alone containing 33 chariots and 72 horses. [image]




(ImagineChina) Click images for larger versions.
*A large walled settlement from the Longshan, or Late Neolithic period (3000-1700 B.C.), has been unearthed at the Puchengdian Ruins in Henan Province. Among the remains, archaeologists discovered a 5,000-year-old pottery kiln and workshop, the best preserved of its kind in the country. The Puchengdian Ruins, which range from the Neolithic to the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279), were declared Henan's first officially protected cultural heritage site in 1963.
*The presence of stone tools in northern China only 100,000 years after they first appear in western Asia suggests Homo erectus spread rapidly across the continent after leaving Africa, say researchers. The 1.66-million-year-old tools found at the Nihewan Basin west of Beijing are similar to those found with 1.75-million-year-old H. erectus remains on the eastern Black Sea coast.
*The Xiaohe tombs, a burial center of a little-understood Caucasoid community in northwestern Xinjiang's Lop Nur desert, are being excavated again. The site, which features wooden-stake-topped dunes and mummified remains and may contain up to 1,000 tombs, was discovered by Swedish archaeologist Folke Bergman in 1934. It was forgotten until his book on the site was translated into Chinese in the late 1990s. Initial work at the tombs in 2003 was curtailed after a severe storm.
*A severe drought in eastern Fujian Province has yielded an unexpected benefit for the area's archaeologists, who are busy excavating 31 prehistoric tombs once hidden beneath the now-shrinking Dongzhang Reservoir in Fuqing. The ceramic vessels, stone tools and jewelry, and fine jade objects found in the tombs--some the first of their kind found in the province--date from the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age (2000-1500 B.C.). A quick excavation conducted before the reservoir was filled in 1957 revealed only the foundation of a Bronze Age house.

© 2005 by the Archaeological Institute of America