From July to September, 2016, the first archaeological excavation of Quanshuigou and Dumudu’ebudege sites were conducted by staffs and students from Department of Archaeology and Museology, School of History of Renmin University. Besides, archaeological survey of copper mine and other sites around the region were carried out, too.
The aerial photo of Quanshuigou cemetery
The tomb M2 of Quanshuigou site
Quanshuigou site is situated in the alluvial plain of southern foothills of Alatao Mount, Tianshan Ranges. Platform of terrace where the site is located is a 5-8 meter-thick lacustrine deposits. The site covers more than one million square meters and 500 square meters of the site were excavated this year .There was a 10x10m2 earthen and stone tomb enclosure with foundation groove being found in the eastern excavation area. There were two earthen shaft tombs in the center. One of them still had traces of wooden coffin. The tomb owner laid on one side with flexed limbs, having a sand-tempered gray clay jar with flat base and a bronze buckle as burial gifts. The other tomb was robbed, burned animal bones were discovered under the human bones, so that cremation ritual was predicted to be carried out. In the western area, there was only an ash pit. All kinds of relics were discovered from the cultural layers and pits, including sand-tempered gray-brown pottery shards and gray pottery shards, stone querns and pottery crucible with residual copper, broken copper wares and iron objects, copper slags, copper ores as well as bones and teeth of sheep, horses and cows and etc. Based on preliminary judgment, the tombs are more or less contemporary to the settlement, which belonged to Andronovo Culture. However, most of the pottery vessels have characteristics that are different from typical Andronovo Culture, such as mainstreams of reddish-brown pottery, common additional heap pattern, tubulose spout, round base and so on. Similar remains can be found in the eastern part of Kazakhstan, dating back to 1500-1000 BC.
The excavation of Dumudu’ebudege site tomb M4
Dumudu’ebudege site is situated in Bole City, Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture of Bortala, Xinjiang Province. There are remains including about ten stone mound tombs. This season’s excavation uncovered 1000 square meters, dividing into two sections, the south and the north. 4 tombs and a settlement with a triangular stone enclosure were uncovered in the south section. A square yard was uncovered in the north area.
The aerial photo of the settlement with a triangular stone enclosure
4 tombs in the south section of Dumudu’ebudege site all have earth and stone mounds. The largest one is 17 meters in diameter with a wooden shelter beneath it. The tomb chambers are either earthen shaft pits or stone-built ones, mostly east-west orientation and heading to the east. Tombs owners either lay on one side with flexed limbs or in extended supine position. Some of them are buried with bone whistles, rotten iron artifacts and so on. The estimate date is about the middle of 1000 BC, belonging to so-called Scythian Culture Period. The settlement with a triangular stone enclosure (stone city) covers about 75,000 square meters. There is a doorway in the southern part. The west wall is overlapped by 3 excavated small scale tombs. Therefore, the date of west wall is probably not later than the tombs. According to the dissection, the lower part of the stone enclosed wall is built with soil-stone mixture. The upper part is constructed by stone blocks，about 1~2 meters wide, slightly higher than the ground. There is a red clay floor within the enclosure, 0.3 meters below the ground, which might be the activity floor at that time.
The square yard of Dumudu’ebudege site
The square yard in the north section of Dumudu’ebudege site covers about 40x40m and is about 1~2 meters above the surrounding. There is a gateway in the southside. According to dissections, the walls were built in earth layer by layer and stones were piling up inside to protect it. 20-30 regularly round pits with a 2-3 meters diameter were found within the yard and some house remains (partial) with a round hearth on the ground. The unearthed pottery shards are mainly sand-tempered reddish brown urn-shards with contracted mouth. In addition, there are green-glazed pottery ears, bone hairpins, a red brick with stripmarks and bones of sheep, horses and cows and so on. This square yard is probably related to storage. The artifacts unearthed from the site bear similarities to those from Dalete Ancient City, which is more than 60 kilometers southeast to the site. Therefore, it might belong to Meng-yuan period.
During the excavation, three periods of cultural remains are discovered, namely the remains from the late period of Bronze Age in the later part of 2000 BC, early period remains of Iron Age in the middle of 1000 BC and Meng-yuan period remains, which have vital significance of research on Eurasian steppe area dating back to 3500 BP in terms of cultural chronology, settlement pattern, burial ad ritual custom, economic system, technological industry, social conditions as well as man-land relationships. The copper-iron composite products found in the late period of Bronze Age is coeval with the artificial iron artifacts in Mogou site, Gansu Province, which provides new materials for research on the spread of early iron-making technique. Besides, the earth-stone tomb enclosure with foundation grooves and crucible for smelting copper artifacts are rare, too.The date of the settlement with a triangular stone enclosure (stone city) is more or less the same to Scythian Culture period which has developed nomadic elements. While at that time, tombs rather than building remains were common in the area along the Great Wall to the Northern Steppe in the north of Tianshan Range, thus, this discovery is noteworthy. There are several square yards in Meng-yuan period found in the hilly grassland nearby Dumudu’ebudege site. Further excavations and surveys will be conducted to answer questions in terms of nature, function of the square yards and their relationships with large cities in the lowland of valleys. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)