By lv peng(PH.D) Supervisor:Yuan jing
This thesis focuses on the shell midden sites along the Yong River in Guangxi Province, which date from 10000 BP to 6000 BP. The author extends this kind of zooarchaeological research from the shell midden sites in Guangxi to sites across China in the hope of discovering some significant patterns and trends.
This thesis can be divided into four sections:
The first is about how shell midden sites are defined and the history of research on shell midden sites worldwide and in China. A shell midden site is a cultural deposition composed mainly of shells. The author gives the standards to identify shell midden sites and to distinguish types of shell midden sites. The worldwide history of research on shell midden sites can be divided to two phases with the transition occuring during the 1960’s. The author discusses the character of each phase and gives a brief introduction to the research on shell midden sites in Japan. In terms of the discovery and research on shell midden sites in China, the author divides research into four phases and discusses the nature, main findings, and main conclusions of previous researchers. The author then introduces the main findings and research on shell midden sites in Guangxi.
The second section summarizes the research methods used to study shell midden sites, especially those specific to zooarchaeology, and presents the methods used in this thesis. The author describes the sampling methods and the methods used to sort and analyze the faunal remains (such as how to determine seasonal practices for gathering shells, how to reconstruct the ancient environment, how to determine the meat value of the faunal remains, how to identify gathering and hunting pressures, and how to distinguish between domesticated and wild animals). The author focuses on the identification of fish and the determination of year of death for the mammals. It is the author’s hope that the methods used in this thesis can be a guide to future research on shell midden sites. The author also summarizes the specific mathods used in this thesis, from sampling to identification, in order to situate his conclusions.
The third section presents the results of the research on the shell midden sites along the Yong River. The sites analyzed include the Dingsishan Site, Baozitou Site, Lingwu Site, Huiyaotian Site, Niulanshi Site and Luosishan Site. An additional four sites (Longjing Site, Tangdichong Site, Nabeizui Site and Nanshepo Site) only had animal remains collected through survey sampling. The results include species identification, quantitative statistics (NISP, MNI and Weight), and bone measurements.. The author discusses the following questions: How were animals used and exploited as a resource? Were domesticated animals present in this region? Which strategies were used to acquire animal resources? Did hunting and gathering practices cause resource depletion? This is the first such zooarchaeological study for the Yong River valley and for most of the archaeological sites discussed.
The fourth section synthesizes the data collected from the shell midden sites along the Yong River and across China. Shell midden sites along the Yong River share some common features, including the use of hunting, gathering and fishing to acquire animals, the use of animals for food and as a raw material, and the existence of a fairly constant and unchanging natural environment. Each site was unique in terms of the types of species present and the mthods used to acquire animals. The special character of each site may be due to micro environmental differences and cultural differences. Next, integrative research on the shell midden sites in Guangxi is discussed. Shell midden sites in Guangxi can be divided into four categories: shell midden sites in caves, shell midden site on cliffs, shell midden sites along rivers, and shell midden sites on the seaside. Based on the analysis of animal remains, the author compares the different types of shell midden sites in Guangxi. Finally, the author extends the research to all of China. Through the analysis of sites in different time periods and different regions, the author makes conclusions about the human-environment relationship at shell midden sites.
Key words: shell midden site Yong River zooarchaeology