In 2016, archaeological excavation of the northeast terrace at Liangjiatai, Xinzhai archaeological site, Xinmi city, Henan province was carried out by a team that was formed by the Institute of Archaeology CASS and the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. The main discoveries are the Wangwan III cultural remains, Xinzhai cultural remains, Erlitou cultural remains, and historical period cultural remains.
The Remains of Xinzhai Culture
There are mainly 17 house foundations, more than 30 tombs, more than 500 ash pits, 4 sacrificial pits, and 1 pottery kiln found at the site.
The house F17 has a relatively hard surface. 5 double-ring postholes were uncovered with some common Xinzhai culture artifacts such as vessel lids and angular-shouldered pots.
The tombs usually measured 1.5-2 meters long, 0.4-0.5 meters wide and 0.3-0.5 meters deep. Neither coffins nor funeral objects were found. The tomb size only can fit the body itself. There are three types of tombs including rectangular earthen shaft tomb, urn burial, and ash pit burial. However, in tomb M28, the tomb owner’s body was bent and folded. The head is located in the south part and faced towards the east with two hands placed in front of the forehead and two legs were twisted. One coffin was found coated with cinnabar. Also, cinnabar coatings are found on the bones. Therefore, it is suggested that the tomb owner was suffered from an unnatural death.
The ash pits found are mainly rounded bag shaped, rectangle, and square.
A complete pig skeleton with a length of 1.4 meters and a height of 1.2 meters was uncovered from the sacrificial pit H341. Its head is westward and faced towards the north, while the body towards the north. Both the front and back legs were tied; therefore it probably was buried alive during the sacrifice. The other two sacrificial pits found are H390 and H466.
The main artifacts found are potteries, bone tools, stone tools, jade wares, and bronze wares. A group of delicate artifacts was uncovered. One of them is a color-painted clay bird with a remnant length of 16cm and a height of 7cm. Other artifacts including stemmed cup Dou, earthen bowl Bo, bowls, urns, pots with angular shoulder, vessel lids, as well as stone sickles, knives, chisels, adzes, axes, and oracle bones were uncovered. Most bone needles found were with the eyelet 0.3-0.8cm long. On the other hand, the oracle bones of horse scapula, scepter of deer antlers, pierced human bones, stone spears, stone penis painted with cinnabar, bronze chisels, and bronze knives were also recovered.
Remains dated to phase I of Erlitou Culture
7 house foundations, more than 50 ash pits, and more than 10 tombs were uncovered.
3 double-ringed postholes were found in the house F1 and 4 double-ringed postholes were in the house F16. The largest external diameter of these postholes is 0.4 meters, and some common Erlitou culture artifacts such as pots with decorated border were uncovered.
Neither coffins nor funeral objects were found. The tomb size only can fit the body itself. The tombs found are rectangular earthen shaft pit tombs.
On the other hand, 4 tombs belong to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty and 2 tombs belong to the Song and Ming dynasties were also uncovered.
The high terrace area is the center of Xinzhai archaeological site. The discoveries such as square storage pits, clay birds, and bronze wares also indicate its importance. The double-ringed postholes found in the house remains from Xinzhai period to Erlitou period suggest the connection between the houses and the overall arrangement before construction. It not only provides new materials to the study of the layout of the Xinzhai site, but also to the understanding of the early Xia culture. (Translator: Li Xuelei)