Since August 2016, archaeological excavation of a series of pre-Qin period sites scattered along Chengdu-Kunming Railway have been carried out successively by Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and etc., including sites such as An’ningchang, Yangerpo, Xinzhuang, Gaoyankan and so on. More than 500 features were cleared, ranging from housing remains, ash pits, kiln remains and tombs. More than 3000 pieces or sets of pottery artifacts, stone artifacts and metal artifacts were unearthed. Very important materials were obtained from the excavation.
Remains in area I at Daniba site
105 pre-Qin period housing remains found in the excavation can mainly divide into three categories: buildings with foundation trench, stilt style architecture and semi-subterranean dwellings.
Buildings with foundation trench usually have single or double rooms. There were obvious post holes being distributed regularly in the trench, which indicates it used to be wooden framework and mud walls.
According to neatly arranged post holes, stilt house found from Yang’erpo site were rectangular in plane, while those from Xinzhuang in circular or oval plane were quite different.
Manzigou cemetery at Yang'erpo site
More than half of housing remains were semi-subterranean dwellings, which were widely distributed in several sites. The planes were square with rounded corners or rectangular. Part of them had post holes residue. There were fire-using remains found in the middle of the buildings. No doorways were found in most of them. However, there were obvious earthen steps or flat stones inside buildings, which could be used as steps. Artifacts uncovered from semi-subterranean housing remains include discoid choppers, scrapers, semi-lunar pierced stone knives, jars with two handles and a slightly flared opening, cylindrical jars and so on.
Plenty of remains from pre-Qin period were uncovered
Cemetery of Xinzhuang site was closely next to northern part of residential area. 158 earthen shaft pit tombs with a rectangular plane, 3 stone-structured tombs and 20 urn burials were discovered. Most of earthen shaft pit tombs were south-north arranged. The majority of them had straight walls and flat bottoms. Only a few of them had coffin remain trace. Human skeletons were of relatively poor state, only some teeth were found in a few tombs. Heads of the deceased were heading north or west. The postures of deceased were unclear. Many tombs unearthed different numbers of funeral gifts ranging from 1 to 40 pieces. Burial goods concluded potteries, copper, stone, jade artifacts and so on. Among them, potteries had pots, pots with a spout, jars, jars with a spout, jars with double handles, zun-vessels, dou- serving vessels with a high stand and a round base, gui-vessels with a round base, cups with a round base, spindle whorls and so on. Copper artifacts included swords, ge-daggers, bracelets, copper blisters and etc. Stone artifacts had bar-shaped pebbles, arrowheads, needles, axes, adzes, chisels and so on. And for jade ones, there were jue-slit rings, beads and so on. Urn burials discovered from Xinzhuang site were circular or oval in plane. There were mainly two different ways placing funeral furniture: ones having a jar with a flat base and a slightly flared opening settled vertically; the others having two jars with nipple nail patterns placed opening to opening horizontally.
Burial goods Pot-hu with spout
A relatively large cemetery found in Yang’erpo site. 131 earthen shaft pit tombs were cleared. 96 rectangular tombs with an earthen shaft pit were discovered in Section A of the cemetery, most of which were arranged in east-west oriented. The tombs all had straight walls, flat bottoms. Only a few of them had a head niche. Most of the tombs had burial gifts in vary amount from 1 to 10. Funeral goods contain pottery, golden artifacts, silver artifacts, copper artifacts, iron artifacts, copper and iron alloyed artifacts, stone artifacts and so on. Among them, potteries had jars with two handles, jars with a handle and spindle whorls and so on. Golden artifacts had bead ornaments. Silver artifacts had tubular ornaments. Copper artifacts had sword scabbard heads, arrowheads, bracelets, buckles and so on. Iron artifacts had swords, spears, axes, paring knives, spades, bracelets, belt hooks, buckles, bits and etc. Copper-iron alloyed artifacts contain only swords. Stone artifacts ranged from bar-shaped pebbles, arrowheads, turquoise beads and so on. 35 earthen shaft pit tombs were discovered in Section B, all east-west arranged. There were rectangular tombs and tombs with a plane of Chinese character “甲” shape. 22 rectangular tombs were found, all in small scale. Relatively few burial gifts were uncovered from them, which were all potteries and mainly less than 5 pieces. Shapes of potteries have pots with a spout, cups with a round foot, cups with a high stem, cups with straight walls and cups with a handle, gui-vessels and so on. Copper artifacts ranged from willow-leaf shaped short swords, triangular ge-daggers, paring knives, bracelets, beads and etc. Stone artifacts had whetstones, pierced stone tools and so on.
This is the first time large-scale semi-subterranean housing remains and stilt style architecture remains uncovered in west and south of Sichuan Province. It sheds light on exploring structures and functions of ancient buildings and climatic environment at that time and so on. There are independent functional sections like residential areas and cemetery in both Xinzhuang and Yang’erpo sites, which give new materials for researches on settlement patterns in pre-Qin period in west and south of Sichuan Province.
The combination of funeral objects at Caozitian cemetery in Yang'erpo site
Besides, this is also the first discovery of archaeological remains characterized by jars with double handles as burial gifts in An’ning River Area. These neatly arranged tombs and burial gifts with clear assemblage provide materials for re-evaluating the distribution of archaeological cultures within this area and exploring origins of elements from local archaeological cultures during pre-Qin period. Besides, more vivid materials are supplied to discussing exchange, merging, immigration and formation of ethnic groups in pre-Qin period. Last but not the least, more archaeological evidences have been provided for researches on Silk Road in South China. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)