From June to December, 2016, 37 features were found during excavation of Lajia Site in Minhe County, Qinghai Province, including 4 house foundations, 24 ash pits, 6 ash ditches, 1 moat, 1 tomb and 1 posthole circle, with an excavation area of 600 square meters. More than 100 pieces of specimen were unearthed, ranging from potteries, stone, jade, bone artifacts and so on. Cultural Remains of Majiayao Culture, Qijia Culture and Xindian Culture were discovered. Among them, Qijia Cultural remains were the richest. This season’s excavation was conducted jointly by Qinghai Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, School of Archaeology Sichuan University, Chengdu Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Museum of Minhe County.
The F63 upper house remain
The F63 lower house remain
Majiayao Cultural Remains
Majiayao cultural remains mainly contained 2 ash pits, both of which had relatively regular plane and a round or roughly round opening. They all had small opening and big bottom. Their sections were bag-shape with a flat bottom. Unearthed artifacts including potteries, stone, bone artifacts and so on. Recognizable potteries included painted pottery pots, basins, bowls with a small opening, jars, wide flared mouth jars with two handles and etc.
The fire place of F63 lower house remain
Qijia Cultural Remains
There were plenty of Qijia Cultural remains, including 4 house foundations, 22 ash pits and 1 ash ditch. Besides, several cracks and funnel-shaped sand-blast remains left by ancient earthquakes were found. 4 house foundations of Qijia Culture were of various shapes, representing unique characteristics of Lajia Site from all aspects.
F63 was the most special one with secondary use. It could divide into upper and lower layers. The upper remain was built on part of south wall of the lower layer. And then west and north walls were constructed as extension part. Finally, F63 became a subterranean building with 9 postholes. It was then destroyed by ancient earthquakes. Various kinds of artifacts were uncovered. Potteries have jars with high necks and two handles, wide flared mouth jars, amphorae, jars with three handles, ZUN vessels with handles, HE vessels for holding wine or water, granary models and so on. Jade and stone artifacts contain jade rings BI, axes YUE, knives and etc. Bone artifacts range from awls, hairpins and arrowheads and so on. Besides, there were many augury bones. Especially, there was one with obvious burn marks. What’s more, elegantly-made granary models with unique shapes were the first discoveries of Qijia culture.
Granary models(left) Vessel with two handles ZUN(middle) vessels HE(right)
House foundation at lower layer was probably cave building. The complete structure of the house’s lower part was well-preserved. There was a complete fireplace in northeast corner with clear structures of a furnace, plate grooves, a chimney and so on. Three other fireplaces were found in the rest three corners, all in different sizes. These structural details uncovered during the excavation provide important evidences for research on architectures of Lajia Site.
Wall painting on the south wall of F62(left) Tomb M44(right)
F62 was affected by earthquakes. Thus, its west wall was collapsed inward, living floor was uneven and gateway passage became steep. There were cracks in northwest corner and bottom of west wall. Besides, there were fireplaces, ovens, partitions and cinnabaris and so on. What’s more, there were pottery, stone artifacts, augury bones, deer antlers, jade raw materials and so on. And there was a suspected wall painting on south wall, which was painted by red, black and white colors. However, it was so poor-preserved that no specific pattern could be figured out.
Jade Rings(left) Jade Axe YUE(right)
F64 was completely destroyed by natural disaster. There was a complete skeleton being found in its east part. The distorted skeleton suggested an unusual death.
Ash pits have different shapes. Many artifacts were uncovered, including hundreds of specimen ranging from potteries, stone, jade, bronze, bone, horn, tooth artifacts. Potteries have jars with high necks and two handles, vessels HE for holding wine or water, vessels DOU with a high stand, container lids, spindle whorls, round clay pies and so on. Stone artifacts take the largest percentages and chipped stone tools were obviously more than polished stone tools. Stone artifacts conclude knives, axes, adzes, chisels, discoid ware, choppers, scrapers, hammers, burrs, spindle whorls, balls and so on.
From the excavation, new discoveries of catastrophic remains of Qijia Culture were found, which is the first time of Lajia site as well as that of the whole nation. It provides vital important new clues for research on abandonment of Qijia Cultural settlements in Lajia site (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)