Guojiaya cemetery along with a large-scale settlement of Qin and Han Dynasties found in Shaanxi Province
A rescue excavation has been made to the north region of Guojiaya Site by a cooperated team from the Archaeological Research Institute of Shaanxi Province and Archaeological Research Center of Baoji City from November 2017 to March 2018. The site is located to the south of Gaoxin Avenue in Weibin District, Baoji City. Altogether 41 tombs were excavated, among which 37 belonged to Qin State of the Warring States period and 4 belonged to the Han Dynasty and afterwards. It was also confirmed that the outer area to be excavated was a large-scale settlement. It is rare to find tombs of Qin State accompanied by settlement. This “settlement pattern” cemetery bears great significance in the exploring history of Qing cemeteries in Baoji.
earthen shaft pit tomb M26
All the 37 Qin State tombs followed flexed burial style, with one extending south to north and the rest east to west; the types were earthen shaft pit tomb, side cave-tomb and straight cave-tomb; the burial furniture consisted of wooden inner coffins and outer coffins, chambers built by loess platform and shed tomb as well as urn burials. Altogether 117 objects were unearthed, including pottery, ironware, bronze ware, silver ware, jade ware, turquoise, and glassware. Most of the burial objects were daily necessities like pottery ding tripod, caldron, pot, li tripod, kettle, zeng steamer, bronze buckle, bronze mirror, a small amount of ritual appliance like jade ware, weapons like bronze arrow heads and instruments like iron shovels.
side cave-tomb M24
Apart from its large scale, Guojiaya Cemetery was also accompanied with settlements, most of which were of the Warring States. They supplemented the data of East Zhou Dynasty cemetery sequence in Baoji region, offering crucial materials to the study of Qin settlement and social conditions in Qian-wei area (reach of Qian River and Wei River) in Baoji. The dating of Guojiaya cemetery was concentrated on the Warring States period. There was no overlapping relationship among the tombs, showing that it was a well-planned cemetery for a clan as well as that the civilian settlements in this area stayed here and extended despite the relocation of the capital city from Ancient Chencang city (Baoji) to Pingyang and to Yongcheng.
a novel money tree from brick chamber tomb M15 of East Han dynasty
The tomb structure of Guojiaya Cemetery fully displayed the change of tomb structure from earthen shaft pit tomb to side cave-tomb and then straight cave-tomb under the same cultural background. Generally, the earthen shaft pit tomb was thought to be inherited from Zhou Dynasty, commonly seen in the Spring and Autumn Period; while side and straight cave-tombs were main characters of Qin cemetery, which served as major reference for the study of evolution of tomb structure in Qin Dynasty.
Four to six pillars were found in the four corners of the outer-coffin chamber as well as the middle part to support the coffin lid. It was rare in the former excavation of Qin State in Spring and Autumn Period as well as the Warring States period, representing unique burial feature of Qin people in this area.
unearthed pottery of the Warring State Period
An urn burial is noteworthy. Though the shape of the urn displayed the cultural character of Qin State, the shovel-shaped bag-legged li tripods reflected Rong cultural style. Rong culture appeared in the middle and later Spring and Autumn Period and lasted till the middle and later Warring States Period, co-existing with Qin culture. They were separated in the burial objects, yet the combination of urn and li tripod in Tomb 36 in Guojiaya cemetery across two cultures showed that Qin and Rong culture kept a closer relationship in Baoji area during the middle and later Warring State period. The appearance of Rong-style li tripod aroused the question whether the cemetery belonged to kinship or geographical group? In respect to this question, physical anthropologists from Shaanxi Archaeological Research Institute and Northwestern University are carrying out technical analysis to offer scientific evidence to decide whether it is a family burial ground or a geographical public cemetery.
shovel-shaped bag-legged li tripod
Among the several excavated brick chamber tombs of East Han dynasty, one was preserved in good structure. The unearthed pottery accorded with that of central Shaanxi plain in the same period. But a novel money tree among the burial objects reflected burial custom of Sichuan Province. This find offered evidence to the understanding of the significance of Baoji region in the cultural communication between southwest and northwest and provided major substantial material for the study of cultural exchange between Ba-shu (Ba and Shu cultures) Region and the central China after ancient Shu Route through Qingling Range was open. (Translator: Yuan Yuan)