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HomeNewsNew discoveries
Significant Achievements from the Excavations of Liangzhu walled site and Exploration ouside the site
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2017-03-28
The Liangzhu walled site is located at the Pingyao Town, Yuhang District, Hangzhou City in Zhejiang Provence. Since 2009, several archaeological explorations have been conducted and covered an area of 16 square kilometers. So far the walled enclosure layout and the water system distribution have been clear thanks to the excavations. Another exploration and survey covering the whole basin (C-shaped) of this region will be carried out in the near future.


House foundation F2 on the big Mojiaoshan 

Preliminary recognition of the Mojiaoshan palatial complex

The Mojiaoshan palatial area is located in the centre of the walled site, composed of the Gushangding platform, as well as three palatial foundations of the Big Mojiaoshan, the Small Mojiaoshan and Wuguishan on the top of the platform. The remnant of the Gushangding platform is about 630 meters long from the west to the east, 450 meters wide from the north to the south, and about 9 meters high.

From 2011 to 2016, multiple surveys were conducted there including surface surveys, trench and square excavations. Thanks to these surveys and excavations, the layout and the spatial relationships between these palaces and house foundations on the platform have been sorted out. In addition, a general idea about the construction processing along with the technologies employed has been achieved.


House foundation F17 on the Small Mojiaoshan 

The Big Mojiaoshan foundation is located northeast to the Gushangding platform. It is the largest palace foundation on the Gushangding platform, surrounded by a circle of 4-15 meters wide and 0.6-1.5 meters deep ditch. The ditch was abandoned in the late phases of the Liangzhu culture, whereafter was converted into stone walls to reinforce the defense. Very likely the Big Mojiaoshan palace ranked the highest level in the city. Upon the Big Mojiaoshan, there were 7 house foundations discovered distributed in two rows aligned in the north-south direction. Each of them was approximately 300 to 900 square meters sized.


Jade cong and jade Bi found in the tomb M1

The Small Mojiaoshan is located in the northwest of the Gushangding platform, which is the smallest scaled palace among the Mojiaoshan palatial area. The foundation was 90 meters long from the east to the west, 40 meters wide from the north to the south, covering a size of approximately 3500 square meters. The excavation result shows that there were 4 Liangzhu cultural house foundations in total on the top of the small Mojiaoshan hill which belonged to two different periods. Among them, one house foundation, dating back to the early phase, was 25.5 meters long from the east to the west and 15.5 meters wide from the north to the south, covering an area of 380 square meters. Three house foundations of the late phase were aligned in the east-west direction, the sizes of which were relatively small. The discovery of these remnants demonstrates the settlement layout and the house type within the palatial area.

The Wuguishan foundation is located in the southwest of the Gushangding platform. It is unfortunately severely destroyed and consequently only its general outline can be recognized. The bottom foundation was 130 meters long from the east to the west, 67 m wide from the north to the south, covering an area of 8500 square meters. None Liangzhu cultural remnants were found on the top of it due to the poor preservation.

There was a large-scale sandy soil square located in the centre of the Gushangding platform, which covered almost 70,000 square meters. The sandy soil square was constructed with alternating layers of sand and mud. The construction was hard which implies that it very likely served an important ritual venue. 9 house foundations were found located in the south and east parts of the square, the sizes of which ranged from 200 to 500 square meters with well arrangement.

Noble cemetery at Jiangjiashan and the city layout

The Jiangjiashan cemetery is located in the west part of the Mojiaoshan and south part of the Fanshan sites. It is roughly rectangular shaped, with length of 270 meters from the east to the west, width of 220 meters from the south to the north. Its size is approximately 50,000 square meters. A noble cemetery was recovered on the west hill of the Jiangjiashan platform. The excavation of the cemetery covered an area of roughly 900 square meters. Totally 14 tombs have been discovered, from which there yielded 425 pieces of grave goods including jade wares, stone artifacts , potteries, bone tools and so forth. The jade style is similar to that recovered at the tomb M23 at the Fanshan site. The date of the cemetery thus seemed to resemble that of the Fanshan cemetery.


Tomb M1 in jiangjiashan 

Both elites’ tombs such as tomb M1, M6, M2 containing male skeletons and M8 and M4 containing females, and commoners’ tombs such as M5 and M11 buried with children were recovered in the cemetery. Most likely the cemetery belonged to a clan family.

The gender of the tomb can be distinguished from the grave goods, as well as the heading of the skeletons. All males were buried with their heads directing to the south while among females, skeletons were buried heading to the north (M7 is the exception). These discoveries provide valuable information about the noble cemetery layout and the kinship during the Liangzhu period. Jade Huang pendant, pottery Zeng vessel, pottery basin, pottery filters, and spindle whorl were all found at female tombs. These types of tools might have closely been associated with females.

Water course: the excavation of the Zhongjiagang river course

Within the Liangzhu walled enclosure, there seemed a complicated water system. The Zhongjiagang river course, situated east to the palatial area, is the major river going through the city. The river course is 1000 meters long in total, 18-80 meters wide and 3 meters deep, according to the archaeological survey. The river course is composed of three sections.


Jade raw material and drilled core found in Zhongjiagang river course

The south and north sections were adjacent to the platforms. As a result, a great deal of potteries, stone tools and wooden artefacts were deposited in the river. The excavation at the south section demonstrates that lacquer wood and jade ware workshops might have been located on the Lijiashan and Zhongjiacun platforms. This is the first discovery of the Liangzhu workshop so far, which suggests that the platforms within the city were used not only for palaces and cemeteries, but also for workshops.

The middle section was close to the Mojiaoshan palace. This section was deliberately filled with grass-mud mixed wrap at the bottom and alternating layers of sand and loess at the top during the late Liangzhu period. As rarely were there discoveries of daily products in the river deposits, the palatial area was unlikely dwelled for daily life.

The north section of the Zhongjiagang is next to the platform. The excavation of the west bank of the river displays multiple episodes of expansions so that the river gradually became narrower. It was entirely filled in the late Liangzhu period.

New acknowledge of the suburban settlements

In the years of 2015 and 2016, the archaeological survey has completed examining an area over 1,750,000 square meters to the east of Liangzhu ancient city. Within the area, there were in total 104 remains including 45 platforms, 9 river courses, 4 accumulations of grass-mud mixed warp, 36 cultural layers, 5 water ranges, 4 patches of marsh and 1 pit. It seems that there are much more cultural remains distributed at Liangzhu platforms east to the city than conventionally anticipated. To sum up, there are over 230 cultural remains of the Liangzhu period that have been detected within the 100 square kilometers sized city complex, among which approximately 150 suburban settlements were probably in intimate associations with the Liangzhu ancient city.   (Translator: Dong Ningning)
 

 
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